Loneliness explained – in plain English.
Loneliness is complex and can be hard to shift. We feel it, but often find it hard to describe. It can leave us feeling depressed, anxious and hopeless. I have felt lonely at different points in my life and for different reasons. And I have learnt something.
Loneliness explained – What is it all about?
You may know what it is like, dreading weekends, especially Sundays, and Bank Holidays, when there are feelings we cannot escape from with week day routines, places to go, things to do. Often it is down to feeling lonely. And it can be hard to shift.
Loneliness often comes with other emotions…
… like grief, sadness, self-loathing, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, anger and more. Often it is a combination of 2 or more, with one feeling fuelling the other.
Loneliness explained – It can happen at different times in our lives.
We may be
- grieving and going through loss and bereavement: We are missing the other, everything is a reminder, and nothing the same. Grieving: What to expect. What to do. Read More
- single or single again, after a relationship has ended. It’s not always easy to do things on our own.
- ill, disabled, old, dying. These can be separate times in our lives. We can go through one without the other. But they all have in common a sense of loss. Too unwell, too old to do what we used to do, or to do what we would have liked to have done.
- in a relationship or home that is full of conflict and without love. Feeling alone, especially when we live with others, can hurt – a lot. When we have to slam on the brakes and rescue our self worth Read More
But if you think about it, what is really deep down at the root of loneliness, is the difficulty of being alone with ourself.
Why? Because we may feel hopeless, without an answer.
Loneliness explained: What do we often do when we feel lonely? We avoid it.
It is not uncommon that we do what we can, to avoid the painful feeling of loneliness. How? We may …
- isolate ourselves;
- avoid people and going out;
- numb the feeling through eating, drinking, smoking etc, stuffing it down, deep down;
- stay in bed;
- not look after ourselves;
- occupy our minds in a way that avoids the painful reality of our lives;
- or we get all noisy and over-do things: a desperate act in a desperate effort to avoid the pain.
Sadly, the avoidance strategy has a limited shelf life and can make things a whole lot worse.
Avoidance can lead to a vicious circle, which is that much harder to escape from.
Instead of avoiding the feeling of loneliness and unhappiness, our behaviour is compounding it and making it worse.
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Over time, we need more and more time to recover from what we do to ourselves. Mondays, Tuesday etc are affected by the weekend pain. On Thursdays and Fridays fear of the terror of it all starts setting in again. And on it goes.
What a life … !
Loneliness explained: There are only 2 ways we can play this:
Face loneliness and do something about it or let loneliness destroy you.
And I don’t mean to flippant. Because destroying us, any sense of hope, self confidence and self belief, it will – slowly or quickly.
I have struggled with loneliness a lot, at different stages of my life, often for different reasons: teenage angst, when relationships end, friends die, moving home, moving jobs, mid life crisis, illness, facing my mortality.
My father struggled with it in retirement. My mother struggles with it since my father’s death.
Loneliness is human and does not always have to be a big or long-term problem.
Addressing our loneliness is part of our personal development and growth. This might not always be what we want to hear, when we are in it, but it is the only way to go.
Befriending yourself, as far fetched as it may sound, is the first and main task.
How? Find out more below.
Looking back at times in my life when I suffered with loneliness, I noticed a few things about it, which I would like to share with you.
Do you struggle with self love? Watch my motivational talk on YouTube.
Join my online talk “End of year reflections and new beginnings”. Info and booking here.
Karin Sieger is a UK-based psychotherapist and writer. All rights reserved © Copyright Karin Sieger. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Article do not substitute medical advice.