Being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. There is a difference. While aloneness is the state of being by yourself, loneliness is a feeling — a longing for companionship—a wish not to be alone. The problem is that many consider the terms interchangeable: Being alone automatically means being lonely. This need not be so. If being alone is a fact of your life, then being lonely CAN be minimized.
First, loneliness is not new—it is an age-old condition. While it may not be possible for you to overcome loneliness altogether, lonely experiences can be managed to a point where they actually can be turned into something of value.
Second, know that loneliness is nondiscriminatory. It can attack anyone anywhere. Many married people are lonely. That is the worst kind of loneliness. Many busy, independent people have no time to be lonely, but for others who may have been separated from a partner, loneliness can be a hazard—a fearful thing with which they would rather not have to contend.
If I Close My Eyes, Will It Go Away?
Whether you should tackle loneliness by plunging into work, by getting involved in social activities, by keeping busy, or whether you should confront the nature of your loneliness directly is a critical decision that faces everyone who lives alone.
Unless you learn to deal with loneliness whenever it confronts you, it will only come back to haunt you later –and its impact may be doubled. Many people are so busy running from it, they never stop to identify what it is, exactly, or why it produces such fear.
Phase One: Letting Yourself Experience Loneliness
Learning to deal with loneliness is an art. It may be one of the biggest challenges any of us faces in life.
Face it. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge what you are feeling. The fact is that you can’t do anything to alleviate the problem until you have first recognized what it is that’s troubling you.
Accept it. Knowing that there are times and situations in everyone’s life which produce feelings of loneliness—whether others are willing to admit to this or not. A certain amount of loneliness in one’s life is to be expected. Don’t try to escape it by running away from it. Don’t wallow in panic at the feelings that it produces.
Manage it. Much of the distress and fear of loneliness will be diminished when you can identify what causes the problem and then attempt to modify the conditions that produce your lonely feelings. When you feel lonely for companionship, invite a friend to dinner. Even the suggestion of dining out will brighten your spirits immediately.
Once you identify what it is that makes you feel lonely, you are in a better position to deal with it. Take note of your loneliness when you sense it and try to discover what prompted the feeling. When you can pinpoint the cause of your loneliness, it isn’t hard to find ways to handle it. Often the simplest act can alleviate the problem.
Use it. Transform loneliness into something of value to you. Turn it to your advantage by learning to handle it on your own, thus enhancing your self-reliance—your most important asset as a person alone. Use it as an opportunity to know yourself better, to evaluate your thoughts, feelings and perceptions. Look upon lonely times as opportunities for personal growth rather than as dreadful periods to be suffered through.
Phase Two: Turning Loneliness Around
Maintain a good attitude; have positive expectations. The way you choose to look at something has a direct bearing upon how you will be affected by it.
Take an aggressive approach to your own loneliness problem. Sometimes loneliness can make you feel like you don’t want to do anything. Yet, this is the time when you should start to do something—preferably something you like.
Begin to pursue new, creative, enjoyable activities that do not require the presence of another person. A change of activity can turn your mind. Even if you have only the slightest interest in something, act on it.
Coming to Terms with Loneliness
The battle over loneliness is a battle you may not always win. You may feel crazy, desperate and afraid. However, you can learn to live with loneliness, to overcome it and survive. Be aware that the loneliness problem is really only open to a personal and private solution. There isn’t anyone who can solve it for you. Other people can help, but they can’t do the nitty-gritty work involved in breaking through the loneliness barrier. That you must do.
And remember – you are never alone – God is always with you.
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~ Isaiah 28b – 31
If you don’t have a relationship with God and Jesus, pray this prayer wholeheartedly right now:
Dear Jesus, I am a sinner and need you in my life. Please forgive me of my sins. I believe that You died on the cross and rose from the grave. Please come into my heart and life. Thank you for helping me turn from my sins and follow you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you received Jesus into your heart, welcome to the family of God! The following will help you deepen your relationship with Christ:
Pray. Just talk to God no matter where you are. He doesn’t care what the words are, just that they are sincere. Read the Bible everyday to learn about Jesus and how to live that pleases God. Start with 1 John, then the Gospel of John, the Philippians.An important part of helping your relationship with Christ grow is to tell others about Him. Demonstrate God’s love and be active in telling others about Jesus.Find a bible-based church and become active getting to know other Christians. Find one with a singles ministry or groups for people your age. Many have groups for different interests. Shop around, but commit yourself to finding one and joining a church family. (Read the Benefits of a Church Family).God Bless,
I welcome questions.
Check out my new column for singles at Phoenix Examiner.com