Alone No More: How to Fill the Emptiness in Your Heart
Learn how to put down your guard and let others in.
Posted Nov 02, 2017
If you struggle with feeling truly alone in the world, you contend daily with one of life’s most devastating emotional experiences. More than the simple loneliness of wishing to connect with someone, you have a sense that you cannot connect with others. Though you might enjoy solo activities, you also feel painfully alone. The truth is that this is not an easy problem to solve, but there is a way forward.
People who struggle with this issue often sense that they have some flaw that causes others to reject them. And they fear to be vulnerable to, and hurt by, others. To protect themselves, they actively (though not necessarily consciously) guard against getting emotionally close. This creates distance with the very people they want to connect with.
So, as you struggle with feeling alone, it is important to ask yourself whether you really are open to connecting with others. Or is your desire connect undermined by your efforts to protect yourself? Maybe you reject others before they can hurt you. For instance, you might be distant or hostile; or even cut off a relationship.
Reflect with curiosity on times you’ve felt hurt or rejected. Were you so sensitive to being hurt, or the fear of being hurt, that you overreacted? Or, was the way your friend treated you out of line? If you cannot tease these things out, ask someone you trust for their opinion – be it a friend, loved one, or therapist.
If you realize the problem is largely in your perceptions and reactions, then take note of this. The more you think about it, the less “real” your sense of being different and flawed will feel. You will also become more open to connecting with others by changing the ways you think about and respond to interactions with them.
Although you cannot just choose to feel differently, you can choose how to respond to your fears of rejection and getting hurt. For instance, when you are struggling with a problem, you might decide – despite fears of rejection – to share it with a friend who has been trustworthy to this point. This can give you the support you need in the moment and a greater sense of connection with your friend. But you must choose your friend carefully. Opening yourself up to someone who is unlikely to be supportive puts you at greater risk for the very thing you fear.
Of course, you can only develop close relationships if you have opportunities to meet people you could really connect with. This is where some basic, good old-fashioned advice comes into play. Give yourself a chance to make friends or develop intimate relationships by following your interests. You might visit art galleries, join a hiking club, get involved in local politics, or become active in a charity. The idea is to do things you enjoy in the company of others who share your interest. You can’t lose because even if you don’t meet anyone special, you are doing things that tend to make you happy.
But to escape from your aloneness to a life of connection, it’s essential that you reflect on two basic factors related to your circumstance; the ways you may be keeping people at a distance and the ways you can close that distance. By increasing this self-awareness, you can gain insights into your painful aloneness and learn to confront your fears of hurt and rejection. Given how deeply this issue can be rooted in people, you may want to seek therapy to help with this process. But with persistence, you can ultimately feel better about yourself and fill the emptiness in your heart with a warm sense of connectedness.
To learn more about this approach, check out this brief video:
Making Change posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation, and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional assistance.