Blog – how to cope with loneliness

How to cope with loneliness


If love is universal, no one can be left out.

Deepak Chopra

Feeling lonely can be incredibly difficult. Working out how to cope with loneliness even harder.

You may struggle so much in your heart and mind that you simply cannot put yourself out there to find and build the connections you long for. 

You may feel you don’t have anyone you can truly be yourself with or talk to – that you don’t have any truly meaningful relationships in your life.

You may be surrounded by people you love and who love you, but you still hold a deep sense of loneliness. You may struggle to let people in, struggle to feel safe so you can be vulnerable, and have difficulty breaking down the walls you’ve put up to protect yourself.

You may feel lonely in your internal struggles – like you’re the only one going through what you are, the only one feeling what you feel.

You may feel different to everyone around you, like you don’t fit in, like you’re an outsider.

However you might be experiencing loneliness right now, and whatever it means for you, I’m sending you love.

I truly hope you find some comfort from the words that follow, and maybe even a little inspiration to take a step forward – some ideas for how to cope with loneliness.

If loneliness isn’t something affecting you right now, I hope this blog inspires you to reach out to a friend or loved one who you know is struggling in some way, or even if they’re not.

Let someone know that you love them, that you’re thinking of them, and that you’re here for them. You never know how much they may need to hear it.

With love,
Katie

person sitting on the rock near the lake

Our universal connection to love is the bond that unites us all.

Harold W. Becker

Ideas and words of comfort to help you cope with loneliness

  • Loneliness is a universal experience, it is part of being human.
    You are sharing the experience of loneliness, however it looks for you, with people all over the world. And I don’t say this to diminish your experience. I say it so you feel less alone in your loneliness, and so you go easy on yourself for experiencing something so many others are. So that you send yourself, and your fellow beings, love and compassion. You are only human after all, and the human experience can be difficult and deeply painful. We are united by the full spectrum of the human experience and all of the emotions that go with it. You are not alone.
  • Know that you are a walking, talking miracle worthy of the connections you crave.
    You, like every other life form, have been brought into existence on a giant, spinning rock we call home, floating in an eternity we can barely grasp the magnitude or magnificence of. You are a miracle – beautiful and unique with endless potential. Even if you don’t see it yet, or believe it, I know it to be true. Allow yourself to be in awe of you, to be in awe of the human experience you are going through and all that goes with it – the good, the bad and the ugly. If you’ve made mistakes, they don’t need to define you. As a being on this planet, you deserve the connections you crave.
  • Vulnerability is beautiful, maybe it is time to take a leap and reach out.
    The world we live in, with its fast-paced, go go go lifestyle, technology pushing us further away from truly connecting with one another (if we allow it to be so), social media creating the illusion that everyone else seems fine and doesn’t have any problems… all this can push us deeper into ourselves and further away from the potential for meaningful connections. What’s more, we may have experienced trauma, such as bullying or abuse, which makes it difficult to open up and be vulnerable with others. It may feel safer to stay closed up and private, to numb or repress our pain. We may fear we’ll be judged or rejected otherwise, or that we’ll stumble over the words and make a fool of ourself.

    If we feel uncomfortable opening up, it’s likely because we feel uncomfortable as/in ourselves. We feel shame, guilt, and resentment because we’re struggling. We deny and avoid our feelings to try and feel “normal” or better so that we can get by, or so that we’re liked. But remember, loneliness is one of an array of human emotions – and you too are only human. So many people are fighting a battle that we know nothing about, even if it doesn’t seem so.

    The world needs openness and vulnerability more than ever if we are to deepen our connections to others, to break down walls and barriers society creates, and heal on a collective level.

    Being vulnerable is therefore beautiful. Allowing yourself to open up to someone is a courageous and beautiful thing to do.

    The wonderful Dr. Brené  Brown sums up vulnerability pretty perfectly in her book, “The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage“:

    “In our culture, we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.”

    Here are a few pointers to help you open up:

    • A first step might be sharing something that is personal to you, but doesn’t necessarily make you as vulnerable as sharing your struggles and emotional pain. Have a conversation with someone about each of your dreams, motivations, hobbies, favourite films, books, comedians, countries, cities… The things that are meaningful to you matter (they’re not “silly” or “pointless”). By sharing them you can deepen connections with others and find common ground and interests. Ask the other person questions. In general, people enjoy speaking about their experiences and interests so get curious to help build rapport. This is a gentle, safe place to start if you’re not used to talking about ourself. 

    • Think of a friend who you’re close with, maybe you’ve known one another for years and spend time together, you have a solid friendship, you trust them but you don’t necessarily have deep and meaningful conversations, especially when it comes to you. Take a step forward, reach out and ask if they would be okay for you to talk to them. Explain that there’s something you would really appreciate their listening ear on, that you’re struggling and would appreciate talking to them. Explain how you’ve been feeling. Sharing our feelings can make it easier for others to empathise with us, as we are feeling beings. Thank them for listening, remind them you are also there for them if they ever need to talk.

      Be mindful of what thoughts arise afterwards – shame, guilt, regret. You took a bold and brave step, it may feel uncomfortable but remember, this is because opening up is new to you. Give yourself the acceptance and love you deserve.

    • If loneliness is taking it’s toll and you’re worried about your mental health, consider speaking with someone via a help line (if you’re UK based, see here for a list – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/crisis-services/helplines-listening-services). This may also empower you to open up to someone closer to you. If you think you need the help of a trained mental health professional and you’re in the UK, make an appointment with your GP who can refer you for an assessment to receive free counselling or psychotherapy. The underlying reasons for your loneliness, or the impact it’s having on your life may need addressing with professional help. This is more than okay, and you are worthy of that support. 

    • Find local community, social and/or support groups to connect with like-minded souls. A few UK-based examples:
      • Mental Health Mates (https://www.mentalhealthmates.co.uk/) works on the understanding that isolation can magnitude our struggles. People from all over the UK organise “walk and talk” get togethers, to literally come together to walk and talk. Groups are also available online.
      • Meetup.com (www.meetup.com) bringing people together to do more of what they enjoy – from everything from film and books, to spirituality and mental health. There’s a group for most things, and now many are organised virtually widening the options available to you.
      • London Friends (https://londonfriend.org.uk/social-support-groups/) for LGTBQ+ social support groups.
woman holding brown paper cup
  • Shift the focus.
    If you have hobbies, interests, creative projects, look for local groups that meet up to share these same loves with others eg. book clubs, film clubs, walking clubs. Shift the focus from your pain, to what makes you feel alive, comforted and happy. Find ways to connect with others through these same things, and discover how connected with others you truly are, not only by the painful parts, but by our innate pull towards joy, fun, expression and freedom, which manifest through our creative flair, loves and hobbies.
  • Get curious about the emotions that arise when you feel lonely, which may hold you back from reaching out eg. guilt and shame.
    Remind yourself that loneliness is part of the human experience. Practice observing the feelings that come up when you’re feeling lonely. If so many of us experience loneliness and are struggling, why do we feel shame? Practice observing the feelings without judgment, even if you don’t fully understand them or why they’re there. Send them, and yourself love.
  • Equally, be aware of the thoughts going through your mind.
    Are you being hard on yourself when you’re feeling lonely, blaming yourself, hating on yourself eg. “well what do you expect, you’re x, y and z so of course no-one wants to be with you”. Sweet soul, you absolutely deserve the love and compassion you would give a friend. Please go easy on yourself. Imagine yourself sitting across a table with someone you care about, who is opening up to you about feeling lonely. Would you be hard on them, or reassure and comfort them?

    Mindfulness and meditation trains us to observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment. Through practice, we can get our power back – our thoughts and feelings no longer need to rule our life.

Trust that by devoting yourself to your healing with patience and compassion, you can open your heart to give and receive love.

Only through our connectedness to others can we really know and enhance the self. And only through working on the self can we begin to enhance our connectedness to others.

Harriet Goldhor Lerner

Want to chat? I’d love to hear from you.