Have you ever been surrounded by people, yet felt like you were the only one in the room? It’s an overwhelming sensation that leaves you yearning and helpless. I’m sure that we’ve all experienced this strange phenomena at some point in our lives.
Is it just me or does this seem even more common around the holidays? Family and friends surround us at every turn, but it just seems like there’s something… missing.
This surreal emptiness is one of the deepest forms of loneliness you’ll encounter.
You feel as though you’re the only one in all of history that has sat there – all alone in a crowded room. But I’m here to assure you that most everyone has walked in your shoes. And if they haven’t, they will. Take solace in the common bond of this dreadful human experience.
It’s in that solace that you’ll learn to cope with this feeling. You’ll learn to develop a positive mindset, how to lean on the people around you, and – ultimately – how to heal.
Causes of Loneliness
In my experience, the root of this emptiness stems from a variety of circumstances. However, when distributed into different categories, it generally comes down to one of two things...
1. Life Circumstances
Life isn’t fair, and it often deals us a bad hand at the most inopportune time. Depending on the situation, we end up feeling angry, hurt and all alone in the world.
Deepening despair often leads to an unconscious desire to isolate us from the world.
(After all, it is our beloved connections to those around us that caused the loneliness in the first place. If you never knew abundant love, you would have no context for dreadful emptiness.)
Some situations that lead to this outcome include:
- Losing someone close to you
- Retiring or getting fired from a job
- Moving to a new area
- Being excluded from social activities due to lack of funds or transportation
- Experiencing discrimination
- Having been a victim of abuse or other serious trauma
If you’ve noticed, these occurrences are often far beyond our realm of control. Perhaps it’s why we can so easily spiral into maddening isolation or even depression.
2. Internal Feelings
In contrast to our external world, the internal narrative of our place in the world can lead to this emptiness of loneliness. It happens when you lack self-confidence, self-worth, or are overcome by fear (e.g. fearing that no one likes you).
When the story we tell ourselves is negative, our sense of isolation increases.
If left unchecked, these internal feelings can spiral out of control. And the same is true of our external circumstances.
It’s important to note here: If you feel yourself spiraling into an uncontrolled abyss of despair, speak to a trained mental health provider – as these can be signs of a much larger health issue. The solutions we outline below can assist in the healing process, but should be viewed as complementary treatments when dealing with diagnosed mental illness.
How to Overcome Loneliness
Whether from internal or external causes, it is possible to defeat this unrelenting loneliness. It might seem like a daunting task – and it won’t be easy – but with a bit of determination it’s possible. The key is exploring possible solutions and seeing what works for you.
Here are 3 options that I’ve found to be immensely helpful...
1. Seek out a like-minded community
Seek out communities in your area that are centered on causes that make you feel passionate. You can always find communities of like-minded people.
This could be an easy or difficult task depending on where you live. Some local areas may have groups on MeetUp.com or Facebook around your interest. Others will have flyers in the local cafe or library. Keep an eye on their event calendars, and attend events that seem intriguing.
Making new connections with people who have similar interests will help form the type of friendships that overcome loneliness.
2. Focus on giving to others
Donating your time or money to those in need can do wonders for overcoming loneliness.
Volunteering time will help you get out of your house and expose you to new experiences. You’ll meet new people and create new meaningful friendships.
Donating money can help you feel connected to others. And that can alleviate one of the core reasons why you feel lonely – disconnection.
3. Avoid relying on others for your self-worth
As children and teenagers, we’re often taught to look at our peer group for affirmation and acceptance. Unfortunately, this causes us to become reliant on the approval of others for our own self-worth.
Adults looking for the acclamation of other adults will rarely find it.
We’re all burdened with our own stress, responsibilities and concerns. For the most part, our social life has slowed down and we spend less time in friend groups that exalt our self-esteem.
And that’s why it’s important to define your worth for yourself.
If you’re looking to others for it, you’ll likely not find it. When that happens, it can lead to feeling unloved, unaccepted and unworthy. None of that is true. And once you can define and accept your value, you’ll stop disconnecting yourself from the opportunity to provide it.
Emptiness and loneliness often go hand in hand. Feeling empty usually means lacking a purpose. It’s something that most people feel at one point or another, but for some it hangs around longer than you’d like.
There’s no reason to feel numb, anxious or isolated. You don’t need to turn towards destructive habits. Shopping sprees, compulsive eating or substance abuse… they’re all temporary solutions to a much deeper issue.
It’s time to stop filling the void with more despair.
I’d love to help you on your path to becoming whole and healed. You deserve all the love and happiness in the world – both during the holidays and every day of the year.
If this article has resonated with you, please share it on social media. Let’s prove to others that they’re not alone, and that we’re all in this together.