With an estimated 4.7 billion people on the planet, it’s still possible to feel alone. Sometimes this feeling is more prominent when you’re physically alone, other times when you’re in a crowd. Finding yourself to be alone can be a gradual realisation, or one that can slap you in the face one day.
For those of us with an invisible illness, feeling alone is a commonly shared thing. Perhaps it’s because friends didn’t understand why we often bailed on plans, or maybe it’s because we don’t throw ourselves in to running clubs or join the gym. Lack of energy, not feeling well, being isolated by others or self-isolating can all result in us not having people around us. But there is, I feel, a different between being alone and feeling lonely.
I’m going to put myself out there and say that you can alone without feeling lonely. You can feel lonely at times, of course, but feeling alone doesn’t signify the end of the road, nor the end of your chance at happiness. Many people with friends, family and a social life, who are clearly not ‘alone’, can still feel lonely because they may lack some deeper connection that they need to people, so even being in a social circle cannot guarantee the lack of loneliness.
It may be the case that those who enjoy their own company or are more introverted by nature find loneliness less debilitating. Or, it may be anything from difficult to soul-destroying, and if it is allowed to fester, the feeling of loneliness can be devastating. When so many of us are alone and feeling lonely, rest assured that you are not on your own with what you’re dealing with.
- Enjoy Your Own Company – If you like yourself and the things you do, alone time can be solitude to enjoy. It’s about becoming comfortable with yourself and your feelings, being able to sit with your emotions and with boredom, about having confidence in knowing you are okay and can cope, that you’re more resilient than you think. Having hobbies, interests and go-to activities can really help, as can thinking about those things you want to do, to learn, to visit. Do something nice for yourself, eat well and get enough sleep, and put yourself as a top priority.
- Acceptance – Learn to acknowledge the past, what you’ve been through and whatever emotions you feel. It’s okay to feel let down or resentful. Accept that what’s done is done, and learn to let go of the hurtful thoughts and feelings that weigh you down.
- It’s Not A Forever Deal – It’s important to note that there’s a difference between acceptance of the past and present, and a sense of giving up. A lack of friends, co-workers or social life at the moment, even if it’s been that way for years, doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. Things can and do change, new people will come in to your life. The life ahead of you does not have to remain this way; it may take time and situational changes for this to happen (ie. increased confidence, improvement to your health, better managing your condition, finding better friends or more like minded people to spend time with), but it can happen.
- Reach Out Online – If changing your situation physically is not on the cards right now, you may want to consider going electronic. The Internet gives us a chance to reach out, to connect with those who may understand our situation, and it’s a wonderful thing. Facebook pages and support forums are a great place to start.
- Find The Positives – Being alone gives you time to work on yourself, but you may need to rethink how you see this period in your life. It can be one of growth, opportunity and dependence. A time when you can strengthen your understanding of who you are without peer influence, when you can stand tall on your own without needing someone else to make you feel good about yourself, and to do the things you want to do without appeasing others. You are answerable to yourself, and you owe it to yourself to live the life you want on your own terms.