Have you ever been surrounded by people, but felt lonely? I was talking with a woman that shared how when she was grieving the loss of her husband of 50+ years, she went through a period of extreme loneliness. She explained that even though she was surrounded and supported by many people in her life, she still felt lonely.

Can you relate? Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you had people around you, but still felt lonely? I know I have.

It made me think about the many reasons that people may experience loneliness, grief being only one of them. For instance:
  • Being guarded with your feelings and emotions, which can cause you to have a difficult time being vulnerable and trusting others. Therefore, making it difficult to connect and form healthy relationships.
  • You are an introvert and think you “should” be more social. If you are forcing yourself to socialize, network, or entertain, when in reality you crave more alone time – it can become exhausting -especially for introverts. Spending time around groups of people and keeping things on a surface level doesn’t necessarily make you feel closer to people. 
  • You have a high quantity of friends that you spend time with, however, the quality of the friendships is not high. This can cause you to feel disconnected, not seen, not heard, and lonely in your relationships. 
  • Spending too much time on social media. It can give you a sense that you are hanging out with others because you get a glimpse into their lives. Although, since it is a virtual group, without face-to-face interaction, it can give you that sense of feeling isolated even when you are in a big group. 

Many times when we are feeling lonely, it is because we are feeling disconnected from ourselves – which is a sign that we are not taking care of ourselves – we are not loving ourselves. When we are not loving ourselves, it is difficult for others to love us – which makes it difficult for us to connect with others. If this goes on for long periods, loneliness can settle in.

If you find yourself feeling lonely, but not necessarily alone, take a moment to check in, be curious and ask yourself the following questions: 
1) How am I treating myself?
2) Am I taking care of myself? 
3) Am I loving myself? 

If your answers show you that you have not been loving yourself AND realize that you have been feeling lonely – you can shift it. Being aware is the first step to shifting and healing the loneliness.

Because self-love can mean something different to each person, you’ll want to start with figuring out what self-love means to you. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
  • Be curious and observe your inner voice. How have you been talking to yourself? If you find it has been more negative, can you begin to shift it to a more positive one? Try replacing your inner critic with a mantra, such as I love myself, I am at peace, I trust. 
  • Make a list of all the things you love about yourself. If this feels difficult, you can start by writing down the people, places, or things that you love to get you in a loving frame of mind. 
  • Spend less time on social media and instead spend 1:1 time with someone. Choose someone in your life that you trust and connect with. 
  • Repeat the loving-kindness meditation. It’s meant to generate feelings of love and kindness both for others and yourself. Repeat the following phrases out loud or in silence, – “May I be peaceful,” “May I be happy,” “May I be safe.” Set a timer for up to 2 minutes. Pause and gauge how they make you feel. After you finish repeating the words, end your practice by saying – ‘May I and everyone else be peaceful,’ ‘May I and everyone else be happy,’ ‘May I and everyone else be safe.
Self-love can also mean setting healthy boundaries, forgiving yourself, trusting yourself and letting go of unrealistic expectations of yourself and others.

As humans, we want to love and be loved. We want to be seen and heard. Things are going to happen, there are going to be times when it will take time to shift out of the loneliness and that is okay. For instance, when grieving a loss, it takes time to adjust to the loss.

No matter the reason behind a period of loneliness, remember to be gentle with yourself, give yourself time and remember to take care of yourself and love yourself through the process. 

If you make friends with yourself, you will never be alone.” Maxwell Maltz