How To Make Loneliness Less Uncomfortable

Loneliness is not a pleasant feeling. No matter how hard you try, you can’t completely avoid it. But there are some ways to make it less uncomfortable.

You can do this by accepting it. But how can you accept such an unpleasant feeling? Even loneliness can be good for something (still unpleasant, but good).

The benefits of loneliness are very similar to those of depression.

Many things depend on our point of view. I’ve already mentioned how can you look at the sentence “Nobody cares“. You can be sad about it because you focus on the people you’d want to care about you but they just don’t. Or being anxious, because you’re focused on what people might think of you. On the other hand, you can focus on how invisible you actually are and how free you are to do whatever you want to do.

The same goes with loneliness. It can become unbearable if you focus on the feeling of being all alone in the whole world. I know, you can feel like this even when you’re surrounded by many people or people you love the most.
On the other hand, you can acknowledge and accept your feelings without judging and just let them be. Nothing lasts forever and even this horrible loneliness will pass away eventually.

Some practical tips for coping with loneliness

  • You can reach out for more human (or other) contact.
  • You can embrace your alone time to the fullest by doing things you don’t feel like doing when other people are around.
  • Focus on others instead of yourself – being in touch with your feelings is great, but if it gets overwhelming, some short-term distractions work better.
  • Write a journal and let go of some thoughts.
  • Learn to comfort yourself, find out what you like and need.
  • Don’t wait until you get overwhelmed and make some plans about coping with loneliness in times when you feel better.
  • Talk to a therapist or join a support group (you can even do it online).

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Is there anything you like to do only when you’re alone? Do you think you can use this in the moments when you feel lonely?

Further reading:

32 thoughts on “How To Make Loneliness Less Uncomfortable”

  1. This is such a good post. I struggle with loneliness and isolation caused by my conditions and it can be overwhelming at times. Mostly I like to try and take myself out of this world and into fictional ones via books or games mostly. When I can do that and immerse myself, suddenly the isolation doesnt feel quite so lonely. I shall remember this post more often when I’m struggling.

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  2. I love alone time, reading, just chilling out. Loneliness only strikes when I’m around people & feeling left out.

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  3. Thank you for this wonderful post. Many people struggle with loneliness, and when you are lonely, it can be hard to find people who can truly empathise, because the people around you may be immersed in their busy social life and unable to understand the loneliness you are suffering. I think it is important to differentiate between being alone and loneliness. Being alone is not necessarily painful – it can be enjoyable, as some commenters point out. Loneliness is the painful feeling of not being able to connect to people to satisfy our need for feeling understood and for feeling as part of a community. You can spend lots of time with people and still feel lonely, if there is no connection.

    I have struggled with loneliness quite a lot, and sometimes it felt almost like physical pain. For me, meditation usually helps – I have the impression that I can move through the loneliness faster if I face it fully, in meditation.
    I think loneliness can be a great teacher. When we are alone, there is no way to escape our minds, we have to face ourselves. Even if it is painful, enduring loneliness can be a useful exercise. It helps to really think about what we want, and prevents us from wasting our lives in mindless activity. It is not surprising that enduring loneliness is a spiritual practice in many traditions, in Buddhism for example.

    I like how Terry Pratchett expressed the spiritual side of loneliness in one of his Discworld novels, “Small Gods”. In the book, the characters have to wander through a desert, alone, after they die. The main antagonist, a toxic narcissist, is unable to do that. He spent his whole life controlling and abusing people; without anyone to control, his coping mechanisms fail, and he has to face the terror of his mind. He spends an eternity waiting, unable to move forward, until a compassionate character comes along to walk with him.

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  4. Loneliness can indeed feel like a physical pain. It used to hit me on Sunday afternoons. I coped by sleeping away my weekends. Nowadays, even though I have my family around me, I still dread a Sunday!

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  5. Thanks for the like.
    Some thoughts let go of from an old man on practical tips, point one: reaching out doesn’t work if…
    You can’t take being rejected (let’s say 100 times) before being accepted once because 1) you don’t read others well enough to always make good choices, 2) you lie to them (consciously or not) about yourself to get them to like you—you will be found out or worn down by this.
    Or 3) you age out of it. When you are young, the sheer for-its-own-sake charm of interacting with others overcomes the rejections and deceptions. Later, at about age 30, that shiny surface has worn off and the base metal of society shows through.
    Now, others—you and me too, we are other to others—will only reach back if there is something in it for them. They will reach back for permission if we are powerful, for proximity if we are famous and for profit if we have monetizable skills or just cash to spend.
    Still later, at about age 60, when, even if you had them, you will run out of power, fame, useful skills and money. No one will return your calls. You have become a nobody twice over. First for who you are in favor of what you have, then again when you no longer have anything anyone wants.
    Some of the other points are good advice: Making art-like objects, emailing old friends (funny that friends you made when you were young are still there while the ones made later aren’t) work wonders; journaling and its sibling blogging are almost as good. Of course, there is family, they almost always will reach back.

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  6. Insightful words, I appreciate that. I often find myself irritated when around people, but craving those very same people’s company when left to wander my own thoughts by myself. I used to have a zone in which I was somewhat content in. The older I get, the less frequently I find myself in that zone. I find myself struggling to remember what content feels like lately, but I think you bring up a useful notion here: “nobody cares” can be interpreted in a much more comforting way than I have taken to heart. Thanks.

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  7. I’m literally in the process of writing a blog post on subtle signs that you might be lonely. It will be a while before I’m able to upload it – it still need a lot of work!

    Your blog post came at the perfect time 🙂 Personally, I interact with a lot of ppl online which helps with loneliness. Most of the time I’m alone – my kids keep me very busy though.

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    • I’m glad that interacting with others online helps you with loneliness. I’m looking forward to read your post too Hilary, you’ll cover what I didn’t, so it’s perfect. 🙂

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  8. My experience with loneliness over the years is mostly associated with romantic love. For years I was looking in all the wrong places for love and only feeling success or failure based on my romantic love encounters. Then I went into celibacy for a number of years and eliminated the search for romantic love. During that time my experiences with other kinds of love like fraternal love between siblings or between friends or as part of one’s faith made me feel less lonely. I think focusing on romantic love rather than other types of love could lead to loneliness. We can hardly ever measure up to our ideals when it comes to being a romantic on either side of the equation. Other types of love are more stable and more fulfilling (to me). I have been happily married for 20 years. Romantic love is a very, very small part of that relationship. Mostly it is build on friendship and partnership which are both predictable and reassuring.

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    • Thank you for sharing your experience in such details. I can relate to some parts too.

      What you did with celibacy was very brave, I admire you for that. I was alone for a while too, but it wasn’t long enough to fully heal my unhealthy patterns.
      It’s great to explore other types of love, I’m there now. I’m glad that you’ve found your formula for a happy marriage.

      Reply

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