- We all spend time alone and are given the same choice: to enjoy our solitude or to loathe this time to ourselves.
- In choosing the former route, bask in your favorite qualities and enjoy beloved activities—be kind to yourself.
- If you struggle to enjoy your solitude, you should first recognize that loneliness is a normal human emotion; then, sit with those feelings instead of chasing them away.
- You may then reframe the harmful feelings: know that these feelings are signaling something deeper, and go on a mission to discover that deeper something.
- Finally, brainstorm some remedies that will help you to feel less lonely, and also open up about your feelings to your loved ones or to your journal.
Have you ever struggled with painful feelings of loneliness? After moving to a new town or transferring schools; after splitting from your significant other or getting into a fight with your best friend; or maybe for some unknown reason you just can’t put your finger on. In any case, feeling lonely isn’t fun. It’s actually really tough and can lead you down a dark path. Unless you decide you want to enjoy your solitude and take the necessary steps to appreciate your time alone.
In Good Company
Arlene B. Englander, licensed clinical social worker, explains that everyone spends time alone—married and single people alike—but you can either enjoy or despise that time to yourself. She then delves into a solution for appreciating your solitude:
- “All of us are alone sometimes, whatever our situation. Many married people have spouses who travel for work, or work long hours, and many singles may have periods between relationships when they take part in many activities alone. The difference between being alone and enjoying our solitude, as opposed to feeling lonely has to do with our ability to savor the moment, enjoying ourselves and our experience, versus feeling we ‘should’ be with someone else or that we’re somehow a lesser person—a ‘loser’ or the like—for being on our own. When we succumb to the shoulds or label ourselves negatively, the pain we cause makes it impossible to enjoy the time on our own, engage in pleasurable activities, and self-defeatingly, have more opportunity to make more friends.
Ask yourself what qualities you like about yourself. Treasure those. Allow yourself to enjoy activities that may be pleasurable. Don’t judge yourself for being on your own. The kinder you are to yourself the better company you’ll be, making it easier to find a partner, or savor your solitude if you so choose.”
Back to the Basics
Pinpointing effective techniques for relieving lonely feelings relies heavily on what those feelings stem from. However, you can’t always dig up those roots. So, if you’re feeling lonely and you aren’t sure why, or you’re just looking for some basic tips, take a page from Lauryn Huang’s book. Huang, CEO of Grouvly, wants you to first master the following:
- Know that loneliness is a normal human emotion.
- Learn to sit with the discomfort of loneliness.
- Acknowledge that sometimes our needs will not be met.
Once you’ve taken the above into consideration, continue on your way to truly enjoying your time alone instead of dreading it. Implement Huang’s three strategies:
1) Reframe the feeling of loneliness. “Instead of thinking that loneliness is a negative emotion, reframe loneliness as a signal emotion,” Huang recommends. “It is signaling that you’re not getting your social/emotional needs met and that you need to change your behavior to get connected again.
2) Brainstorm some ways that could help and test them out. “Talking to a counselor helps, joining a regular activity group, reconnecting with your old friends, participating in an online forum, volunteering…” Which one resonates with you? Pick an activity that’s personal and helpful to your particular feelings.
3) Talk about them or write about them. Lastly, open up about how you feel; don’t keep those feelings inside. “Reaching out to people and telling them about your struggles would start to show you that you’re not alone in feeling these feelings of loneliness,” Huang explains. “If you’re not comfortable talking with people, even writing anonymously helps too.”