Loneliness– solutions

Group of people with seedlings to be planted

Group of people with seedlings to be planted (Photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection)

There actually some very practical solutions to the “loneliness problem. ”

1) Let go of idealized pictures of the relationship you don’t have. Many people, when they feel lonely, imagine a bond with a soul mate who deeply understands and completely accepts them. If you are a certain kind of person of faith, this would be God.  If you’re not that kind of person, or you want something more here/now than an intangible relationship with God, then accept that there are people  who are likable, who you would enjoy being with, who are not your soul mate. It might be someone who shares your interest in soccer, or Post-Impressionists, or Dr. Who, or Daft Punk… make your own list, and find people with common interests.

2) Remember that feelings are like the weather– they change, and they change, and they change back. Loneliness isn’t permanent, nor is a warm feeling of being with someone. Even if we love someone, we have to spend time apart. Don’t discount. Discounting is a cognitive distortion , about which more some other time. But for relationships, the cruelist version is to say to yourself things like, “It’s not everything I want, so it’s no good.” Or to say, “I was happy when I was with them, but now I’m alone and lonely, so loneliness is my true state of being.” A moment of happiness is a moment of happiness. A moment of companionship is a moment of companionship. When it happens, it’s real, and it counts.

3) Take action. People won’t come looking for you. You have to go to meet them. By which I mean meet them in the flesh. I remember a media maven talking about trying to create a flash mob by telling all his Facebook friends (local to London, where he lived) to meet him at the pub for a drink. Only one of them showed up. His point– online relationships, especially with people you’ve never met face to face, aren’t very strong. If he’d called  a few people, he probably would have had a better turn out. Find a community. If it’s sports, play a sport with a team or club– don’t just watch it on TV. If you have a spiritual side,  find a faith community. If you like art or music, go to shows,  or take lessons, or join a band. Go to open mic nights. There may be a certain “new kid at school” feeling about this, but the other people are there for the same reason you are– to meet like-minded people. Oh, yeah, one other thing– give it time.

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About jamesmatter

Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in private practice in San Francisco. I work with adults, adolescents, and couples, with focus on substance use and abuse and co-occurring disorders (having both a mental illness and an addiction).
This entry was posted in choices, cognitive therapy, Couples and relationships, Recovery, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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