Are You Lonely? Or Are You Growing?

Having periods of loneliness is actually very common and it could be argued, somewhat healthy! The problem arises because we believe the opposite. We tend think that to feel lonely means there is something wrong with us. There isn’t! Often, it is just a case of having thoughts and feelings that those around us don’t seem to understand.  In our earliest days of existence, we came to know ourselves through other people; so to grow up and then have feelings of such disconnectedness from others, is maybe why feeling lonely seems to really hurt us, at our core.  Obviously, this can lead to feeling even more isolated, which can spiral into a mix of other emotional problems and mental health issues.

The first step in working through loneliness is to change our perspective on it.  Stop seeing it as something to fear or avoid.  If we normalise and accept it as a part of our growth, then it becomes an experience that ultimately makes us better, more well-rounded human beings. And that’s all it is, an experience.  Albeit a complex emotional one, but an experience all the same and we all know that no experience lasts forever, we just have to be prepared to do a little more work in alleviating ourselves from its clutches.  

Once we’ve begun to shift our perspective, the second step is to accept it.  Resistance to any thing, makes the thing harder, so before you can really overcome loneliness, you just have to acknowledge how you feel. After this point, you have two options… Embrace solitude and explore your feelings at greater depth, (though this option can become problematic if continued for too long a period of time) … or, reach out.  

If you’re struggling with your mental health, being alone can be dangerous. It can be a comfort blanket, a way to hide yourself and the way you really feel from the people who love and care for you. This is the space where your mind can trick you. There is no one around to challenge yours thoughts, making them even more powerful and difficult to overcome. Your thoughts might tell you that you deserve to be alone, or that nobody has time for you. Don’t believe everything you think! If this resonates with you, reach out to somebody. There is a fine line between using your feelings of loneliness to empower your personal growth through solitude, and using it as a weapon to block out the rest of the world.

Now, I know if you’re deep in the depths of loneliness, just the thought of reaching out is impossible to conceive, but once you’ve begun to change your perception, it really does become a lot easier.  The paradox of loneliness is that so many people are!  In recent times its even been considered an epidemic, so, if that’s the case, we really shouldn’t feel so alone, with feeling so alone!  I know it’s so hard to tell those closest to us that we’re feeing lonely, especially if they’re the same people we’re feeling isolated from, but again these experiences are where we grow the most.  If reaching out though, does feel too hard, either spend more time working on embracing and accepting it or reach out through social media. The platform being a shared space can be comforting in itself and it does make it easier to directly connect with similarly minded people, just remember to be mindful.  

As cliché as it sounds you are not alone, ever, especially in loneliness so accept it and talk about it. Ask for help when you need it most. By doing that not only will you help yourself but you may also help someone else and that’s the start of the ripple effects of change. Remember that loneliness has nothing to do with how many friends you have, it’s about how you feel inside. Something is going on, on a deeper level that needs to be worked through.

“All man’s miseries, derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone”. - Blaise Pascal

If you have started to feel lonely due to being disconnected from the people around you, your friendship group, colleagues or if you feel like a stranger to your own self, it may not seem like it at the time, but this can be a very powerful experience. A strong sign of the start of huge personal growth. We won’t lie, it’s also a crazy time - overwhelming, isolating, scary. You’ll probably begin to question who you are and everything you ever thought to be true! Embrace these feelings and you will uncover so much about yourself that you will find deeper meaning in the moments of solitude, and thrive in an environment where you are able to focus on your own mind, without distractions.

Share your experiences with us in the comments below and let us know your thoughts on this! If you’ve struggled with feelings of isolation or loneliness - what are some of the things you personally find helpful?

-- Liona

Editor’s Note: This post is a personal growth piece and is not a substitute for professional help if you are struggling with your mental health. If you need support, we recommend the following organisations: