Monthly Archives: December 2015

Loneliness (Part 3)

For the last two weeks, I’ve been going over the topic of loneliness. In part 1, I talked about what loneliness is. In part 2, I went over some of our common unhealthy ways of dealing with loneliness. And finally, in part 3, I’ll be talking about how to deal with loneliness in a healthier way.

In this life, you will see that others have more of something than you do. It’s unavoidable. Get used to it. Just as there will always be someone who appears to have more money than you, there will always be someone who appears to have more people around them than you do. You might be scrolling down your social media feed and it seems like everyone else is in relationships, everyone else is having a good time with so many friends. Focusing on what you don’t have is not the way to go. That will only make you more upset and lonely. Instead, push yourself to be grateful with what you do have, even if you don’t have a single person in your life, and think positively that you will get the social connectedness you long for.

“But Dan, everyone is getting taken left and right. There’s less and less left for me.” Do not conform to this mindset of scarcity because it will only fill you up with more anxiety and loneliness. Instead, adopt a mindset of abundance. You’ve heard the term “plenty of fish in the sea,” right? That’s the way you have to look at it, for both friends and romantic partners.

Of course just thinking positively won’t get you a friend or a romantic partner. Just like making money, you still need to put yourself out there, take risks, and work on it. But it’s about thinking positively along the way.

Now let’s say you’ve built up an “empire” of social connectedness. Then, all of a sudden, you lose it all at once. This could be like you once had so many good friends in one city and then your family gets relocated to another city and you have to start back at zero. Or it could be like you once had the relationship of your dreams and then you guys break up. This could make you feel pretty darn lonely. Whether it has to do with money or social connections, it’s devastating to go from having everything to having nothing. But you have to move on and build it up again. Stop wasting time thinking about the good old days and what you had before. That’s a huge distraction. Instead, believe that you will build an even greater “empire.” And no matter how many times that “empire” may come crashing down, keep your head up and keep on building.

Getting excluded, misunderstood, and treated differently can also cause loneliness. Instead of jumping from community to community or person to person until you finally feel like you fit in and belong, deal with your inner acceptance issues first. Accept yourself and believe your differences make you beautiful.

Something doesn’t always have to happen in order for you to feel lonely. Sometimes you can just randomly feel lonely. And that’s ok. But remember, don’t look for a quick-fix solutions externally. Let yourself temporarily feel the difficult emotion and think positively all the way through.

The best cure for loneliness, though, is intimacy. It won’t matter how many people you have in your life if you have this kind of oneness with somebody or a higher being. When there’s intimacy, the other person really knows you, you don’t have to pretend to be someone else. Intimacy is a huge topic and I have way too much to say on it. So, in a separate series, I’ll cover the topic of intimacy.

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Loneliness (Part 2)

One of the most common traps many of us get into is looking for external solutions to fix our internal problems. So what’s the most common external solution people use to remove their inner loneliness? PEOPLE. People use people all the time to control their loneliness.

But like so many other external solutions, the fix is only temporary. Loneliness will come back. And if all you know is to latch onto people to take away your difficult feelings, that can turn into dependence on people. And you just cannot have healthy synergic social connections when your relationships are all based on dependence.

Some people choose to depend on a community of people. Dependence on this option could look like someone who just can’t stand being by himself and he just has to be out with friends all the time. Some people choose to depend on a romantic partner. Dependence on this option could look like someone who jumps from one relationship to another with hardly any break in between.

If you are desperate for people to be in your life in order to cover up your loneliness, that can cause even more problems. Here are some of the common problems that arise from desperation in this area. Just to get people, you are more likely to:

  • Overprioritize approval from others that you
  • Lie, make up stories, and pretend to be someone you are not, overexaggerate your successes
  • You are more likely to be perfectionistic about how pleasant you are around others
  • You are more likely to get very disappointed at others for their failure to readily be there for you
  • You are more likely to take advantage of very giving and caring people by unloading your sob stories with absolutely no intention to move forward from them
  • You are more likely to lack healthy boundaries with people and, because of that
  • You are more likely to overextend yourself for others while neglecting your own needs
  • You are more likely to look for community in all the wrong places
  • And hold onto unhealthy relationships

One of my favourite movies that depicts a lot of these problems with loneliness is “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”

But not everyone uses people to remove their loneliness. Some people use substances to numb themselves, some people use work or entertainment to distract themselves, some people go to sleep and hope they wake up not feeling it anymore, and some people use unhealthy psychological strategies in their head to help them cope with their loneliness. Even though you’re not using people in these examples, I still would not recommend responding in these ways because they all have to do with running away from your difficult feelings.

If you’ve already developed a habit of running away from your loneliness, I know it’s going to be very hard to all of a sudden not do these things, but for your own mental health and emotional freedom, you have to let go of these temporary quick-fix solutions.

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