10 Ways to Heal Loneliness Now

Are you lonely? If you are, you’re a part of a growing percentage of Americans according to a recent Pfizer Journal study. The fact that Zoloft®, one of the most prescribed antidepressants is manufactured by Pfizer, and Pfizer just settled a $2.3 billion case with with the Department of Justice does make one wonder about the creditability of this study. Drug company ethics aside, no matter how many others are lonely – it sucks when you are.

Loneliness
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The distinction between being alone and loneliness

You can’t begin to heal the second until you allow the first. For years, I denied my loneliness. It was only after I settled into being alone, that I then was able to feel my loneliness and could then allow the despair of loneliness to lift.

When we run hide from an emotion, the emotion doesn’t go away, it just hibernates waiting to awaken hungry. Using your survival skills you developed as a child, you learn to do work around painful emotions. As a kid, you had few options to assert your feelings or needs. You learned to do what was needed to survive and be loved. Putting up with being lonely was one of them.

One of the more common compensations for being lonely is to be busy. You may have learned to always be doing something or to always be with others. Solitude is not an escape from the stress of life as much as opportunity for the loneliness to wake up. When you are doing things, hanging with others or you are being entertained – you are may be temporally escaping loneliness.

When was the last time you spent several days by yourself doing nothing? When I asked that, what did you feel? What images flashed by? Did it feel like an invitation to be tortured?

What causes your loneliness?

Loss is a huge set-up for loneliness. Losing a partner through the changes of life, divorce or death can put many into the depression of loneliness. It might be you moving out of your home and your community. Remember what it felt like when you moved away from home.

Whatever the cause, loneliness will affect you physically. Research continues to show that it impairs your cognition and motivation while affecting your immune system, blood pressure and DNA.

The art of being alone

How much do you enjoy being alone? Can you just hang with just yourself, or do you need to be with someone or doing something?

Solitude is a lost art in these days of 24/7 media, Internet and whatever else we want. Even if you aren’t looking for a distraction, it is there seeking your attention. The email or tweet that needs a reply or the clothes that need washing often comes before your need for undisrupted time and space.

Creating space for your own quite time takes a commitment. Years ago when we had a company that taught Mindfulness Stress Reduction, we would require the super type-A students to do 45 minutes of mindfulness homework per day. Everyone would say, they “didn’t have time for it.” We would then tell them they couldn’t do the course – they then created the time. The interesting thing was that four weeks into the eight-week course you couldn’t take the practice away from most of them.

We cannot only learn to be alone; we can learn to enjoy its benefits.

Transform loneliness by being alone

Here are some simple suggestions, starting with the don’ts: 

  • Don’t
    • Resort to drugs, they only repress the affect; they have never addressed the cause of loneliness. As an emergency intervention, yes – as a healing regime, no.
    • Deal with your need for time alone by:
      • Justifying how you always need to be with someone or doing something
      • Rationalizing that invalidates your feelings and needs
      • Suppressing your expression of your feelings
      • Shaming yourself into doing it the “right way” which is not right for you
  • Watch your behaviors
    • You project on to others what you are not owning or experiencing
      • We often see in others what we don’t want to see in ourselves
    • Here are some common escapes to suppress and distract
      • Media
      • Friends, family and pets
      • Work
      • Addictions
  • Practice mindfulness, the art of
    • Acceptance
    • Allowing what wasn’t okay to be experienced
    • Feeling ­– just feel physically and emotionally what is happening as it happens
    • Using your mind to witness, not judge what is occurring
  • Express
    • Your feelings and wants
    • Withholds of your feelings and wants
  • If you can’t get there ­– use others to help stir up feelings
    • media
      • country music – it is great for bringing up the victim in you
      • sad, angry, frightening or happy movies
      • books
    • Change groups from support groups, which are based on supporting a problem and move on to a group that is oriented towards supporting change and success
  • Risk
    • Meet others
    • Take the long view
      • Use experiences of being alone to activate loneliness so you may release it
    • Stay in the moment and your body as you experience being alone or loneliness
    • Prime the pump
      • Volunteer
      • Find a passion and share it
  • Take care of your body
    • Get the rest and nutrition you need
  • Receive
    • Bodywork
    • The joy that comes from truly being with others as you are fully present
    • Support – let others support you
    • Community
      • Join
      • Create  one if you can’t find what you want
      • Start with an on-line community
  • Breathe
    • This is the simplest, yet most powerful way to heal loneliness
  • Be alone
    • Surrender to the state of being alone
  • Just do it

Being alone will be your vehicle to move you out of loneliness. The seduction of life today will want to pull you into not being alone. Use the above tools to get the most out of shifting loneliness into the pleasures of solitude.

The ultimate test, which is asking yourself if you’re getting less or more energy at the end of the day from your behaviors, will determine if your investment was worth the effort. Share any ways you transform your loneliness.

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10 Ways to Heal Loneliness Now

4 Responses

  1. I would start with breathing, allowing my breath to be more relaxed and catching when I am not breathing. Then begin to allow my emotions to release through me, which starts with accepting them.

    I know it can be overwhelming. It is less important where you start than just starting. Start with what is the easiest.

    Good luck.

    Owen Marcus November 25, 2009 at 3:54 pm #
  2. So…..where do you start?

    woodshirewitch November 25, 2009 at 2:28 pm #
  3. Definitely loved your article! I’m doing some research on antidepressants and I really don’t like what I find. People need more articles like this one, to show them there are other ways of dealing with loneliness and depression than resorting to drugs.

    antidepressant birth defects snri January 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm #
  4. This was a really great article. I find that sometimes even the treatments of your own lonliness (medication etc…) does nothing but confuse the people around around you.

    Say I had some happy medication, the people around me would act confused or like i’m a fake, because they’re used to me being alone, and see it unusual that i would all of a sudden have the confidence to be different. This is the REAL hell. Depression doesn’t just make you feel bad, it ruins any trust,respect, and most virtues of your life.

    I’m 25 years old, and feel like there is no reason at all to reach 26

    Daniel Kirk December 12, 2012 at 9:29 am #

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