How to Cope & Overcome Loneliness
These are the top methods of both coping with and overcoming loneliness when you’re single.
- Having the right mindset.
- The difference between coping and overcoming.
- 4 ways to cope with loneliness.
- 6 ways to overcome loneliness.
- Conclusion – It’s all a matter of balance.
Somewhere along the history of humankind, singleness has become synonymous with loneliness. Perhaps it’s prejudices and misconceptions, along with society’s immense pressure to not be single, to get married and have kids… That is the biggest and main generator of the fear of being single and lonely. Because in reality, while there is a connection, loneliness has little to do with being single. If you’re single and lonely, it means you’re not filling your life properly. Not learning how to enjoy your own company and take advantage of all the opportunities singlehood offers.
Furthermore, being in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re not lonely. More often than not, people in relationships are so much lonelier, because there’s nothing quite as lonely as being in a relationship that doesn’t fulfil you. That doesn’t give you what you need. Or with someone who doesn’t care enough. And mostly, because we usually tend to focus and give most or our attention to that one romantic relationship, thus neglecting others. Meaning, we only have one relationship we can depend on. And that’s a huge source of loneliness.
Before beginning the journey of overcoming loneliness, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
1. Allow yourself to feel lonely
Hear me out… Sometimes we just need to immerse ourselves in a certain feeling to actually overcome it. Allow ourselves to feel it, both so you can understand it better – where it’s coming from and what exactly it is you’re feeling… And so you don’t repress it and make it worse and bigger. Moreover, it can be like when you need a good cry to let it out. It releases all of the tension you feel inside, and after – when you’ve let it all go… You feel more relaxed and light.
2. Don’t try to escape it
Escaping something, whatever it is, is never healthy or the right way to cope and handle. If you don’t allow yourself to feel and understand it, you’re automatically avoiding, ignoring, denying or trying to push it away. Which means you’re escaping your problem, and that has a tendency to make it even worse. Not to mention, that anything shoved away without confronting it, tends to explode ten folds later down the line. Also, when you avoid it, it will pile up and will likely merge with other problems you may encounter or have, and worsen.
3. It’s not that bad
More often than not, fear prevents us not only from doing and trying things, but also from coping and facing our problems. We procrastinate and delay that confrontation as much as possible. However, when we take the time to cope with it as soon as possible, the problem is not only much smaller than it could be later down the line… But we also may discover that it’s not as bad as we thought it would be.
No matter your relationship status, but particularly if you’re single, these are my best methods for coping and overcoming loneliness:
Coping vs. Overcoming
Let’s begin with the distinction between coping and overcoming, because they are two separate parts of the journey.
Cambridge definition: The fact of dealing successfully with problems or difficult situations.
Coping with a problem means you’re investing your own conscious effort, to solve personal and interpersonal problems, like loneliness… So you can try to master, minimize or tolerate stress and conflict. In this case (of loneliness), you’re using the coping methods as a way of handling and managing it. To make the process of overcoming loneliness easier, better and more effective, you need to use coping methods to stick with it. I see it as a state of mind you need to adopt to get past the loneliness.
1. Be patient and kind
Understand that it’s a process that takes time, according to how bad the situation is. There are no shortcuts, magic fixes or loopholes. You just have to face it head on and understand that it won’t happen overnight. So be consistent in reminding yourself to be patient, to not give up and to keep moving forward… Even when you can’t see the end or any results or progress. Be conscious of this fact, be aware of your patience level and put in the effort to keep it balanced. And most importantly, make sure to be kind and understanding with yourself throughout the process. I’m also all for creating a nice self care routine to assist the process.
It’s important to practice self-compassion when you fail at things. Remember, everyone fails, and there is no need to be a bully to yourself, feel guilty, or put yourself down. That kind of attitude won’t help you decrease loneliness, now or in the future.– Tchiki Davis, Ph.D., Psychology
2. Matter of practice
Just like anything else in life, you need to keep doing something again and again to actually get good at it. Even if it’s not your forte, if you stick to it and keep practicing it consistently, you will get better at it. You may never master it, but it’s very rare for anyone to be able to be at 100%. And that’s okay. Work hard and put in the effort to keep showing up every day and doing what you can to make progress. The more you practice it, the easier and better you will get at it, and the less scarier it will be.
3. Don’t escape or avoid
I’ve already touched upon this a bit above, but I would like to get a bit more specific. Coping with something, means you’re facing it consciously and head on without avoiding it. That means, you’re not escaping loneliness and “coping” with it by surrounding yourself with people, or trying to constantly be distracted. That’s just unhealthy and won’t get you any result. If anything, it will probably make it worse. To be aware and conscious of it, acknowledge the problem and face it.
4. Practice self love
I’ve preached about this many times over, and I’ll preach about it again and again. One of the main causes of loneliness is due to low self esteem and worth. Even if it’s not the main source of your loneliness, when you learn how to love yourself properly, it eases the loneliness. It also makes it so much easier to cope with and overcome. When you love yourself better, you are also more likely to want to invest the time and effort to face your loneliness. And will also be better equipped to do so.
Cambridge definition: To defeat or succeed in controlling or dealing with something
To overcome a problem in your life, means you’re getting the better of it. You are surmounting the loneliness, and overcoming all of the difficulties that come along with it. It’s not only coping with it in your mind and not letting it consume you. It’s also being proactive infighting and defeating it, to eliminate it from your life. I see it as more of the actions you can take to get past the loneliness.
1. Don’t compare your journey
This one is also a matter of mindset, so while it is also a coping mechanism, it’s more of an overcoming action. Because stopping to compare yourself requires taking action and being proactive. Not only shifting your mindset. Comparison is a very slippery slope, a poison that will only make matters worse. Each human being is very different from others, even if it doesn’t seem like it on the surface. Because you never really know what goes on inside. You need to stop looking at others’ progress and successes, and measuring it against your own. You need to stop trying to match your steps with anyone that isn’t you. Keep your eyes and focus on your own path and journey. It’s a matter of having that faith, and learning how to be confident in yourself, so you don’t look at others and compare.
2. Don’t let social media consume you
In this day and age it’s near impossible to avoid social media. I’ve long since lost count of all the available platforms, which just seem to multiply by the day. Unfortunately, they’re not only filled with “influencers” promoting fake and unattainable perfection… But they also give a false illusion of actually being “social”. It may be in the name, but no real connection can rely solely on screens.
While I’m not devaluating the real friendships you can make online, it cannot come at the expense of human interactions. Sticking your face in a screen not only prevents you from meeting people, it’s also harmful to the connections we do have. Especially since we tend to spend our time with others glued to our phones. Not to mention how unhealthy it is, both physically and mentally. It can also create social anxiety.
Connect in real life. Connecting in real life may not be as easy as it once was. We often default to using our smartphones—it’s easier, and now it’s culturally accepted. But we can decrease our loneliness if we build stronger in-person connections. We do this by looking people in the eyes, listening, being mindful, and choosing not to be distracted by our phones or other technologies.– Tchiki Davis, Ph.D., Psychology Today
3. Making real connections
This goes both to the connection you have with yourself and with others. If you don’t have a real connection with yourself, and don’t enjoy your own company and presence… Nothing and no one will be able to make up for the loneliness it will cause. Learn how to prioritize yourself, and understand that it’s okay, and even required, to put yourself first. We need to work on our own self-relationship, so we can truly be happy and not feel lonely with ourselves.
Same goes with the connection we have with others. If the friendships and relationships around us are weak, if there’s nothing binding you together, then you’ll fall apart. Just because you’re surrounded with people, it does not make you any less lonely. I say again and again, it’s a matter of quality over quantity. You want good, positive and valuable people in your life – so don’t be afraid to set proper standards. At the end of the day, it’s not a numbers game. It doesn’t matter how many or how little people you have around you. What matters is how they impact your life.
Loneliness does not depend on how many friends or relationships you have. Loneliness depends entirely on the subjective quality of your relationships—on whether you feel emotionally and/or socially disconnected from those around you.– Guy Winch Ph.D., Psychology Today
4. Hobbies, hobbies and more hobbies
I cannot stress enough how important it is to fill your life with activities you love and enjoy. Don’t rely solely upon having relationships and friendships with others, because they can only fulfil you to a certain degree. Even if you are in a romantic relationship, you can’t always be with that person. There’s also no bigger turn-off, or something quite as suffocating as being with someone who depends and centers their whole world around you. It’s sure to destroy any connection.
Not to mention, hobbies are a great productive way to fill your time and life. They provide you with new skills and abilities. And most importantly, they are a great way to spend some high quality time with yourself. When you fill your life with positive, enjoyable activities, you’re more likely to enjoy your own company. And also to be more happy in your singleness. Not to mention, you’ll overcome loneliness so much easier and better.
5. Reflect on your journey and progress
I’m a huge believer in writing as a therapeutic tool and a great method of keeping track of your process. To help you reflect and understand where you’re going, where you’re coming from and where you are in relation to the two. It puts things in perspective and makes them more tangible and real. Especially if you’re struggling to stay consistent and persistent, creating a writing / journaling routine for your journey… Can help you organize and manage the whole process. When you ask yourself the right questions and write down (or draw) your answers regularly… It helps you keep track of everything and it also seems less daunting and more attainable.
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6. Experiences and adventures
One of the greatest benefits of being single is that you have so much more time and space to do your thing. The best part about it, is that you don’t have to feel bad, or worry about anyone else. You can be as spontaneous as you’d like. Investing your time, money and energy on going on adventures. Gaining new experiences will not only provide you with great fun and wonderful moments… It will also boost your energy level, fill your life with meaning and purpose. Which will all help you forget and move past your loneliness. When you’re busy living your life, actually living, learning and trying new, exciting things… You won’t feel lonely, or at least not as lonely, because your life is full. Not to mention, that life has so much to offer, and we should take advantage of it.
If we’re spending all our money on things, we won’t have the cash to spend money on experiences with others. And it turns out that spending money on experiences is way better for our mental health.– Tchiki Davis, Ph.D., Psychology Today
In conclusion – it’s all a matter of balance.
Just like everything in life, a successful journey towards overcoming loneliness, is a matter of creating the right balance. The one that is best suited and tailored for you. Mix and match all of these methods, play around with them until you find the correct, most effective concoction and combination. And make sure to incorporate all of them into your daily life, routines and schedules. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do it, only the right, and best way for you. And just because one person is doing it a certain way, doesn’t mean that you have to. And it certainly doesn’t mean that it will work for you, or give you the same results. So stick to your own path, trust your instincts and just go for it.
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Stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong!
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