Loneliness is something most people try to avoid. But being alone is an inevitable part of life. It happens to everyone at some time or another. It is important to be able to separate solitude from loneliness and to understand what is behind your feelings so you can embrace being alone.
1. Work Out the Root Cause of Your Fear of Loneliness
Some scientists believe loneliness is a basic emotion on a par with fear and anger. For millions of years, survival relied on being part of a group; being alone was risky. But now, a fear of loneliness can keep us in toxic relationships, unfulfilling jobs, and bad marriages. Identify what’s behind your fear of loneliness, and you can start to work on it.
2. Learn to Understand your Loneliness
Loneliness comes in many different guises. It can be temporary situational loneliness where you find yourself without company or help. Or you can be going through a life crisis that results in more extended social isolation. A relationship breakdown, losing your job, or being seriously ill can all make you feel completely cut off from love and support.
3. Appreciate Solitude
Solitude is quite a different state from loneliness. Artists, philosophers, and writers over the centuries have sought out solitude to think deeply and widely and to create their best work. Solitude can be a comfort in an overcrowded life. When you are by yourself, you can expand into being your true self.
4. Confront your Deepest Fears
Loneliness can be a product of the fundamental fear of separation that goes back to infancy. Separation means being vulnerable, having no one to rely on except yourself. This is the loneliness that realizes that in the end, there is nothing between you and the stars, no one to rescue you. That sort of existential fear can be scary. What are your deepest fears about being lonely? Identify them, acknowledge them, and take away some of their power over you.
5. Use Self-Actualizing Practices to Overcome Loneliness
Techniques like yoga, tai chi, and meditation can help you reconnect with your deepest self. Sitting alone in meditation separates you from the negative thought spirals and feelings that can make you feel so miserable.
A loving-kindness meditation practice can help you replace feelings of separation with feelings of love and connection. Give it a try:
- Sit quietly and focus on your breath.
- Breathe in, think ‘May I be happy.’
- Breathe out, think ‘May I be loved.’
- Breathe in, think ‘May all my suffering be healed.’
- Breathe out, think ‘May I be at peace.’
Eventually, repeat the mantra, thinking of people who may be lonely at this time, replacing ‘I’ with ‘you.’
Finish by sending positive thoughts to all beings and repeating ‘May all beings be happy. May all beings be loved. May the suffering of all beings be healed. May all beings be at peace.’
This simple practice helps you feel connected to all of life whenever you do it.