Making Change

A psychologist provides guidelines to help individuals define their best pathways to change

Overcoming Loneliness

Loneliness is one of the most painful feelings a person can have, because people are wired to need a sense of connection. When you feel lonely, it can also lead you to perceive your life as meaningless and to have no hope for that to change. But there is hope. There are ways that you can survive through the pain and re-emerge feeling connected with others, accepting of you Read More

And if you struggle to feel

And if you struggle to feel any compassion for yourself or others, where does that leave you?

Re: And if you struggle to feel

If you struggle to feel any compassion, then that leaves you with needing to heal from any painful emotions that make this difficult and needing to learn how to develop compassion. Below are some articles I've written that might be helpful

How To Be More Compassionate Toward Yourself

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/making-change/201109/how-be-more-com...

Stop Self-Criticism with Compassionate Self-Awareness
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/making-change/201108/stop-self-criti...

Compassionate Self-Awareness: Moving Toward Self-Acceptance and Belonging (on my WebMD blog)

http://blogs.webmd.com/art-of-relationships/2011/03/compassionate-self-a...

Good luck to you!

And if you struggle to feel

And if you struggle to feel any compassion for yourself or others, where does that leave you?

Ohh well I always felt lonely

Ohh well I always felt lonely wish would have seen this earlier but it is helpful thanks, knowledge is power if you know better you do better.

Hungry

This subject resonates with me to the degree that I feel lonely pretty much all of the time. The irony (of course) is that I'm not alone. I have friends and family, those who love me very much, and I participate in social activities several times a week. I find I am able to be genuine and share my personal struggles with those closest to me, so I do believe I have the kinds of relationships that should cure loneliness. think what it comes down to is that not even other people can fully satisfy that intense hunger for connection, and a deep intimate relationship with God is the only thing that truly fulfills that need. Part of that struggle, however, is the pattern of defective and dysfunctional beliefs about God that are barriers to truly trusting that He cares and will be there without fail. There have been moments when I've had breakthroughs, epiphanies if you will, and it was at those moments when I was not burdened with loneliness and felt in complete fellowship. I know this is a Psychology website dedicated to science (i.e. things that can be proven through the scientific method) but there is some knowledge that cannot be procured through the five senses. I'm not sure why I felt the need to write all this, but perhaps someone needs to hear it.

Me, Thank you... I feel the

Me, Thank you... I feel the same way but sometimes even knowing that only God can fullfills that need... how do you do it?

I haven't arrived...

...yet. But there are a few things I've figured out. I've realized that my distance from God is rooted in distrust. I sometimes attribute to Him motives that are not true, or blame Him for things that are not His fault. I must acknowledge this and stop this thinking pattern. If I want to grow in faith, I must follow His instructions for increasing faith. "Faith comes through hearing, and hearing comes by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). It's amazing how I can find so many other things to do other than study my Bible. But that is where I fail, as that is the way we get to know Him. How can I say I love my partner, my friend, my children if I never spend any time with them? Can I really even know someone I spend little time with? If I truly learn his character through His Word, I won't follow Him out of fear or duty or any other poor motivator; I will follow Him out of love. Prayer is important, but I've come to the conclusion that what He has to say is far more important than what I have to say.

So I've been studying nearly every day (my goal is daily) and using supplemental materials that teach me how to study, like understanding the culture and history of the time so that I can get a more thorough understanding of what is being said. I've embraced the belief that if something about God feels offensive to me, it either means I still don't understand the nature of that characteristic, or I am in denial about my own offensiveness. Either God is good, or He's not. I believe He is good, so I pursue Him.

I hear you

I know someone exactly the same , whose felt lonely or alienated all his life despite a loving family. His relationship with God is the same and I like the way you say at the end of your blog that it's nothing that God did wrong, it's that you haven't come to understand the nature of His characteristic or your own offensivesness. My friend says if God is so magnificent, why did he make him likes, depressed, lonely, alienated, hating of the human race

Depression and Dealing with It

I can appreciate what was said in the article, about "owning" your loneliness. I just don't know how to do that. I am in therapy and such so at least I'm trying.

I did not cry in years and

I did not cry in years and last time i cried it helped me for my feelings...anyway my eyes got swelled so bad that every person could recognise that i was crying the second day. it was so embarrassing

Another piece on loneliness from a fellow Psychology Today blogger

Hello Leslie,

Thank you for this wonderfully helpful piece. About three years ago, I posted a piece on loneliness at Psychology Today called "How to Turn Loneliness into Sweet Solitude." We have similar perspectives—particularly our focus on awareness and self-compassion. I thought your readers might also like to see my piece. It contains some practical suggestions for looking at loneliness in a way that can ease its pain. Here's the link:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/turning-straw-gold/201105/how-turn-l...

It's nice to meet you through your blog.

Warmest wishes,
Toni

Re: Another piece...

Hi, Toni. It's nice to meet you through here, too. I'll check out your blog.

Take care,
Leslie

Very relevant

This is a good article on an important subject. It is so relevant to society, yet there seems to be quite a bit of stigma surrounding loneliness. I think eliminating that stigma would be helpful. I wish talking about and expressing loneliness would be okay (and not something that has to be kept hidden away).

Acceptance about my loneliness has helped me to heal and cope with it. I also found Toni's post (which I had read before reading this one) to be really helpful too: being alone can indeed be turned into sweet, blissful, peaceful solitude. As a person with a chronic condition, it can be very hard to have enough energy to socialize (and some days, even just to leave the house!) and I am often on my own.

I am learning to be my own best friend - since after all, I am the only one I really "have" with me, always. I have come to realize that it is often not the state of being alone that hurts, but the awful things I say to myself (e.g. "No one wants to be around me because I have nothing to offer", or some other variation of "I am no good" or something alienating like "No on on earth could ever understand me because I'm just too strange"). Self-compassion is not easy, but it can help ease one's pain. I've also come to understand that I am not really ever alone - there are other people, out there, who can understand/empathize and relate to how I feel (even if perhaps I haven't found them yet).

Thanks for this article.

I'm completely agree with you, because i feel the same way.

Hi Brenda, I think I've found someone who feels the same way, I certainly surprised that sentences that you've described will be the same that i told myself when worse I feel and for be more honest many times people told me that I'm super freak.

Difficulties reaching out

I just wanted to ask, to see if anyone might have some insights:

What do you do when it is really hard to reach out to others because you've been "burned" so many times in the past (have been ignored, let down, etc.)?

Overcoming this fear can be hard - sometimes it feels even impossible...

Rehearsing old wounds

Personally, I would definitely recommend that you put an end to replaying the old hurts over and over in your mind. What good is that doing you? Is there some enjoyment in feeling like you are destined to be a victim and tragedy is about to befall you at any moment? That doesn't seem likely. If you broke your leg, it would hurt for a while, but over time it would get better and better, and eventually you would be able to use the limb as before. Would you refuse to walk in fear that you might fall and break it again? I guess it could happen but even if you broke your leg 4 times in your life (totaling a generous 2 years of healing time), would you give up the other 70+ years of walking without problems? The love and joy available in relationships is worth the occasional bumps and bruises. No one's perfect... you're going to get hurt. Stop avoiding it.

Another thing to remember is that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, endures mistreatment, rejection, being ignored or shunned by someone they cared about, or some other behavior that diminishes their dignity. The majority of people find a way to heal, forgive, and pick themselves up to try again. It sounds like you've convinced yourself you are damaged forever. To allow yourself to believe that these injuries are able to be overcome, and witness other people do it, might give you the courage to forgive those who harmed you (not necessarily rekindle the relationship) and embrace a fresh start where life isn't perfect but it's still beautiful. Be courageous!

Thanks

Actually, I don't replay the old hurts over and over (although it can be sometimes hard to let go of people - because I actually become quite attached to them and it saddens me when friendships and other relationships end). And I don't feel like I'm a victim; I'm simply frustrated at putting in so much effort to form relationships with people only to have those efforts ignored so often. It gets exhausting...especially in the long-term, and especially when you have a chronic illness that limits energy.

I used to heal, forgive, and pick myself up routinely...but a person can only take so much. I guess I've reached a point where I lack the physical and mental strength to make a lot of effort lately and I think that's okay for now. I'm very grateful I'm fortunate enough to have family members I'm close to, but I struggle to form relationships outside of family.

I do understand your point, and it is well-taken. With all due respect though, I've heard advice like yours many, many times (not to say that it's bad...but it's just not working for me, unfortunately). This is obviously not an issue that is solved overnight. I appreciate your encouragement, nonetheless. Thanks.

I'm sorry

I wish I could have been more help. From your initial post, it seemed the history of being "burned" was the only factor involved in your social avoidance dilemma. It appears there are many factors, particularly your health issues and very likely depression resulting from your health problems. Posing a question to strangers on the internet might not be the best course of action. As you've noted, my advice is of the type you've heard repeatedly, so that's really all that a lay person like myself can offer. I would suggest that if you are not already, you receive treatment for depression. Obviously, I'm not a doctor, but some of the statements you make suggest depression, so it might not be a bad idea to have a professional evaluate you. It can make a world of difference, especially so that you're not so emotionally fragile. The losses are real, no doubt, but perhaps the depression is preventing you from healing, much like diabetes can prevent a physical wound from healing. I wish you the best.

No problem

I understand that you were trying to help, and I do appreciate it.

Not surprisingly, I do have depression (a long history of it actually) and have been receiving professional, psychotherapeutic treatment (I have also tried many medications, but either they didn't work for me and/or had to be stopped due to side effects). I also have received medical treatment for another chronic condition that causes pain and fatigue (again, side effects have been an issue).

The loneliness (which may be both a consequence and contributor to the depression) has been one of the hardest things to "treat" because some of it (like just the sheer, circumstantial luck of meeting potential good friends) is beyond my control. Lately, I have made efforts to say "hi" and introduce myself to new people at school (I'm in college) and I think that this very simple act is helping take the edge off at least a bit. Of course, this doesn't help much with the deep loneliness - that craving for closeness and intimacy, which takes a lot more time to develop - but it helps take the edge off.

Thank you very much for your empathy (really, just having someone really understand is often the best help), and I wish you the best, too.

Re: Thanks

If you are really feeling limited by your chronic illness, you might want to follow up with your doctor about it to see if there is more to do medically. A therapist might also help you manage your struggles.

That said, perhaps your relationship struggles are related to your attachment style. To learn more about this, you can read my blog entry:

Learning Your Attachment Style Can Light Up Your Life
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/making-change/201105/learning-your-a...

If you connect with what this article says, you can find some guidance in how to change by reading:

Change Your Attachment Style to Light Up Your Life
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/making-change/201105/change-your-att...

Finally, if all of this connects, you might want to check out my upcoming book:
Insecure In Love
http://www.drbecker-phelps.com/insecure.html

I wish you well in moving through your struggles and finding happier relationships.

Thank you

Thank you, Dr. Becker-Phelps, for your response and the links. I did find them helpful.

I have yet to find a good treatment for my chronic illness (and whenever I do, side effects get in the way and create a new problem). I am in therapy, which does help a lot. Recently, I started iron supplementation (after my doctor found a deficiency) and I'm already noticing a bit more energy and I've been more open to being just a bit more social lately (e.g. just saying "hi" to fellow students and finding out their name). Taking care of my health and feeling like there's something I can do to improve it has made me feel much more positive in general. Depression has been a decade-long struggle for me, so it's nice to get a little relief lately.

Difficulty with attachment is likely an issue for me. A couple of my relationships (family & work-related ones) fit the secure attachment pattern. But in several other cases, I seem to have a mixture of dismissive-avoidant and fearful-avoidant attachment styles (which might seem a bit contradictory). I would certainly be interested in reading your upcoming book and I look forward to it.

Thank you for your kind wishes. All the best.

Loneliness makes one needy

So stop feeling lonely before you reach out to others. People can see lonliness and neediness from a mile away, and will reject you every time.
Stop feeling lonely=stop acting lonely.
Loneliness serves no purpose at all. People have no compassion for those who are lonely; it is treated as a social leprosey to be shunned. If s drug existed to eliminate all lonely feelings I would take it in a second.

Not necessarily

It's not as simple as that. And I believe it is okay to feel lonely: actually, telling myself to "Stop it! Stop feeling lonely! Just cut it out!" never, ever has worked for me. I actually start feeling lonelier! But maybe it works for you.

Sometimes, you can "act as if" you're not lonely and sometimes that can be helpful (maybe that's what you're getting at). Although, honestly, I think I'd feel a little inauthentic if I completely hid away my loneliness and pretended it didn't exist. This is not to say I would willingly go around parading my loneliness, but sometimes opening up about it with the right people can be helpful and healing too.

And if someone were to have no compassion for me whatsoever just because I'm lonely and wanted to shun me on that basis alone (which seems a bit absurd) - Well, quite frankly, that's quite alright with me. Personally, I prefer to have compassion for people who are troubled by loneliness. I can certainly empathize with them (and as this article mentions, that can be one "upside" to loneliness - this ability to empathize; so it is not necessarily without purpose at all).
And I disagree that loneliness always makes one needy - it can, but prolonged loneliness can also eventually make you the opposite of needy: you develop a sense of "I don't need anyone".

my name is mccart i never

my name is mccart i never believe in spell casting, until when i was was tempted to try it. i and my husband have been having a lot of problem living together, he will always not make me happy because he have fallen in love with another lady outside our relationship, i tried my best to make sure that my husband leave this woman but the more i talk to him the more he makes me fell sad, so my marriage is now leading to divorce because he no longer gives me attention. so with all this pain and agony, i decided to contact this spell caster to see if things can work out between me and my husband again. this spell caster who was a woman told me that my husband is really under a great spell that he have been charm by some magic, so she told me that she was going to make all things normal back. she did the spell on my husband and after 5 days my husband changed completely he even apologize with the way he treated me that he was not him self, i really thank this woman her name is Dr Aluta she have bring back my husband back to me i want you all to contact her who are having any problem related to marriage issue and relationship problem she will solve it for you. her email is traditionalspellhospital@gmail.com, she is a woman and she is great. wish you good time.

Good tips, but not necessarily a solution

One thing that seems to get left out of all these articles on loneliness is that we are mammals! We need other people in our lives. If you are lonely and alone, how do you continue to live? Being lonely and alone impacts every single day for me. Acceptance is great. And I'm all for practicing self-compassion and feeling my feelings. But for how long can a human actually live a solitary and lonely life? We punish the worst criminals by putting them in solitary confinement...something that is, really, inhuman treatment. But out in the world, there are people enduring that same aloneness.

True

I agree with you - ultimately, the best remedy for loneliness is finding healthy, supportive relationships. We do need other people (I used to deny it all the time to myself). Some mammals (including some primates) are naturally more solitary and less gregarious, but it seems that humans fall into the more gregarious end of the social needs spectrum.

I'm wondering just the same: how long can one live a solitary and lonely life? I'm not sure there's an answer (personally, I've been living for a good decade with it, so far). Loneliness is so complex and far from being an individual problem - there are so many societal factors that can help breed loneliness. I do think certain technological advancements, in some cases, have increased isolation and loneliness, for example. I just recently quit using social media, and I've noticed I'm becoming a bit more social lately in real, day-to-day life because I'm not relying on social media as an easy crutch (this is just my own experience and I'd prefer not to get into the heated, sometimes ugly debate over the merits of quitting or not quitting social media, but I just wanted to share that). Sometimes the tiniest of simple actions, like saying hello to someone new in a setting in which you feel relatively comfortable, can help ease loneliness a bit and at least temporarily (just my humble, personal experience).
There are no easy answers to loneliness; solutions need to be tailored to the individual.

It is very telling that this article is one of this week's "Most Read": loneliness is widespread. I think it deserves to be a public health priority and it's encouraging that there's ongoing research about it.

Disconnection

Loneliness is disconnection from one's true path.
In other words, you have lost your direction in life.

A true path is the tangibe effect of your heart's desire
To identify, remind yourself of who and what deep down you know you are
Stop
Be
Allow your true feelings to remind you of what you honestly want to do
Take action.
Gather all your resources and whatever support you need
Set your sights, And go.
Once you realign, relationships of the calibre you are after will come your way.

Many misunderstanding this article

I have noticed that people responding, here and elsewhere, are missing part of what this article says in terms of the importance of taking action. I emphasize the importance of awareness, acceptance, and compassion because these elements help people reconnect with themselves in a compassionate manner. By doing this, it often directly helps ease their pain, AND it often helps people then take direct action to connect with others. For example, rather than just trying to fake being happy or sitting alone and feeling like a loser, lonely people who nurture compassionate self-awareness are more likely to be kind to themselves and do what they can to ease their emotional pain. So, with compassionate self-awareness, people are more likely to reach out to friends for support, search out ways to connect with others, or do whatever else they think will help them alleviate their loneliness.

lonely

Great advice.
Read this, it is the best solution, I don't feel lonely any more, :)
http://www.contrast007.com/how-not-to-be-lonely/

i like this site very much

i like this site very much and i like to share and thanks for the writer

I want to add something which i found more valuable which is I think and remember my self that god know that i am alone and feel sad and ,and i use praying and make peace with god
I found that way is the best of all
are you with me or not in this ?

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Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in private practice and is on the medical staff at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, New Jersey.

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