“Loneliness is proof that your innate search for connection is intact.”
Healthy companionship is a wonderful way to feel connected. It is an opportunity to express ourselves with others, feeling safe and free to be who we are. When we enjoy such relationships, we feel enriched and loved. We are truly blessed.
When we don’t have people in our lives with whom we feel this way, we may start to feel lonely, sad, or cut off from others. This feeling of loneliness also creeps in when we have been separated from someone we love either through death or distance. These are unhappy states, of course, but like all states of being, they are a perfectly natural part of life’s experiences. And like all the feelings we have, they are subject to change.
Sometimes we just need a reminder that “this too shall pass.” If you are feeling lonely and wish to connect—or maybe reconnect—with others, here are several choices you can make to transform this feeling of unhappiness into one of togetherness.
- Join a support group. If you are feeling lonely due to the death of a loved one or a major separation, connecting with others who are going through a loss of their own is an excellent way to share your feelings with people who understand. Many long-lasting friendships have begun this way.
- Take a class. What fascinates you? You can find a class for virtually any hobby or interest you may have. Sports and other physical activities also fall into this category. This is a great way to meet people who have similar interests, which is a firm foundation for developing friendships and feelings of camaraderie.
- Become a member of a place of worship/spiritual gathering. If you are religiously inclined, become a member of your local church, synagogue, or mosque. If you consider yourself more spiritual than religious, look for a meditation group in your area. Seeing the same people week after week and engaging them in friendly, meaningful conversation has a way of drawing us together and making us feel a part of something greater.
- Make a phone call. Is there someone you’re missing—a friend or relative who has moved away? Social networking doesn’t quite cut through those feelings of loneliness since we are only seeing snippets of someone’s life through photographs and words. So pick up the telephone and make the call.
- Volunteer for a cause you feel strongly about. Volunteer work in which you have the opportunity to join forces with others who share your passion can be fulfilling on many levels: helping others, bonding with likeminded people, and making a real difference in your life and the world.
- Adopt an animal companion. There are endless stories out there about animals fulfilling a need in people’s lives. While they aren’t a substitute for human companionship, their affection and devotion can certainly fill a big part of the void. Taking the dog for a daily walk has the added benefit of making you more available to your neighbors.
When it comes to being alone versus feeling lonely, there is truly a world of difference. In my workshops and in my book, I teach others to go within to be with themselves. However, the flipside of this—and it’s a crucial part of living life—is going out into the world and engaging with others. There is no reason to continue to feel lonely in a world of people. There is at least one with whom you will connect in a way that you can be totally yourself. Think about taking one step today to find that person.