Are you feeling lonely this holiday? Feeling lonely is one of the worst feelings in the world. So many people feel alone, and holidays–since it seems as if everyone besides you is happy and warm–enhance these feelings.
I am aware this season of so many people feeling lonely for all kinds of reasons. I know many of them personally. And my heart has been breaking.
Some people experience feeling lonely in a crowded room and others can feel totally comfortable home alone all day.
(Being alone is not inherently an issue. Many ancient sages or meditation masters can be alone and content. However, this is after they have gone beyond individual ego, when they no longer feel separation from Oneness of the Universe.)
But for most of us humans, biologically and emotionally, we are social beings. We live in communities because we need to. We can’t do everything alone and we are interdependent. Collaboration is our biggest survival skill. Our species would die off without it. If you are alive, odds are you have given or received help in some way.
We also long to be needed by others. Since this gives us worth and purpose.
Feeling lonely in our individualistic culture
We have contradictory ideas in this culture, that we are weak if we can’t do things independently. But nobody, least of all successful people, does everything alone. Think of the top executives–they don’t do things alone. Doctors don’t do surgery alone. World leaders don’t lead alone. Independence is overrated.
Also, co-dependence has gotten a bad rap from substance abuse recovery terminology. Think of the word literally outside of recovery’s negative connotation. It quite accurately describes life in my family.
I don’t know anyone who does everything alone. I definitely don’t.
Unfortunately we hold ourselves to high independent expectations. It lowers our sense of worth when we hold ourselves to this impossible standard.
Lonely is totally different. Lonely is upsetting. It brings a melancholy, or worse, depression. Lonely is isolation, it breeds negative self identity, increasing sadness and anxiety. When we feel lonely, we feel like nobody loves us. Then, we remember all of the evidence that points to this fact. (And for some reason, our mind gets empty of all the evidence that we are loved.)
Even if none of the negative self image is true, when we are alone, sad and anxious, each of these thoughts can take on a life of their own, twisting through our memories to find even more evidence of why they are true. Pushing us further into our sadness and firming our commitment to even more isolation.
The Power of Negative Thoughts
When we’re feeling lonely/alone, our mind gets has huge power over us and our self critic is dangerously not interrupted. Sometimes our loneliness increases our self critic, and sometimes our self critic increases our loneliness.
Let me explain.
Sometimes people feel alone because they believe there is something wrong with them that makes them unworthy of companionship, not good enough for relationships, or unlovable. On some level, they conclude that this is why people are mean to them, criticize them and blow them off. It feels so vulnerable.
This actually happens to all of us, but the more you feel negatively about yourself, the worse it is. Usually, it’s something from your past–difficult relationships or events–that has you feeling this way.
Some people have described this to me as a “darkness inside.” They feel like they live in fear people will find out “who they really are.” They feel this darkness with every fiber of their being, and it is more truth to them than anything solid in the room in front of them. This dark feeling brings with it an incredible amount of fear for the world and shame for who they are.
Feeling lonely and alone about it?
When you are upset inside and going about life, you get the sense that nobody can see how bad you feel. Nobody can see the darkness. You feel invisible and unacknowledged. You think you are hiding it and maybe are anxious to be discovered.
It separates you from the world. If nobody knows how bad you feel, then nobody can truly see you.
And you feel lonely. Something that seems like such a HUGE part of you is hidden away.
Dealing with Loneliness
You may think that nobody knows how bad you feel, and you don’t really want anyone to know, yet another part of you desires with all of your sadness that someone could understand. But you have no faith that anyone would or might care. Then no matter how many loving people are around you telling you that they love you, you will feel alone because if they knew you fully they wouldn’t love you. (As if you don’t deserve love given under these assumed false pretenses.)
And this loneliness will give you incredible suffering added to the dark feeling.
Loneliness is becoming an epidemic, says Canada’s Globe and Mail. They said 40 percent of Americans describe themselves as lonely. Yet another consequence of our individualistic culture.
This does not surprise me. We desire relationship above all else–acknowledgement is how we heal, and that happens in relationships. Connect heals us and separation breaks us up.
Have you ever felt that you are outside looking in a window at a party going on? And you feel instinctively that you don’t belong. And you long to go in there because it looks warm and happy, but it feels way too scary to because people might see you for who you really are and realize you don’t belong. (You assume you are this darkness you feel.) You feel separate, undeserving or unable to be part of the party.
Do you pretend that you are OK?
And everyone else around seems better than you?
Take it from me, someone who gets to hear the secrets–everyone else is pretending, too. Yes, of course they are OK sometimes, just like you are OK sometimes, but during times when they feel bad about themselves, they feel just like you: like there is a darkness inside that feels overwhelming and that nobody knows.
Believe me, the people who love you see the real you–maybe better than you see yourself. The darkness you feel is guilt and fear, not essentially who you are. They see the light in you and THAT is the real you.
They do see who you are. If you are isolating yourself, stop! Reach out to someone. You don’t have to worry about trusting them. You just have to worry about trusting yourself.
Watch my video about how to deal when you’re feeling lonelyFeeling lonely this holiday? Click To Tweet
How about you? What do you do when you’re feeling lonely?