How To Deal With Loneliness
Hello, my name is Noah Elkrief; and in this blog post I’m going to talk to you about how to deal with loneliness. As I do one-on-one sessions with people, I am often asked to help people to stop feeling lonely. When this happens, I often see that they’re confused about the cause of their loneliness. Or, in other words, they don’t really understand what’s causing their loneliness. So therefore, when they try to make themselves stop feeling lonely, they’re not really addressing the cause of their loneliness. In order to understand how to deal with loneliness, we first need to be very clear about what’s causing the loneliness.
What most people think is causing their loneliness
So what’s causing your loneliness? Well, what do you think is causing it? If you are single, you probably think that your loneliness is caused by being alone and not having a romantic partner. And if you’re in a relationship, you probably think it’s caused by your partner not loving you, not appreciating you enough, or having the wrong partner.
Proving that what you thought caused loneliness… definitely doesn’t
Now, let’s take a look at what’s actually causing your loneliness. To do this, let’s examine the most common things that people think cause loneliness.
Exercise 1: Does being alone cause loneliness?
Does being alone cause loneliness? Well, take a look at your life. Are you lonely in every moment that you’re alone? Or do you sometimes not feel lonely when: you’re distracted from your thoughts, you’re watching TV, playing sports, eating good food, cooking, eating dessert, dancing, playing with kids, or doing something fun? When you are distracted and entertained you almost certainly don’t feel lonely. This is because in those moments you’re just not thinking about how you are alone. If being alone caused loneliness, then you wouldn’t be able to escape or lose this loneliness simply by entertaining yourself. But, yet you almost certainly don’t feel lonely at many different points during any given day.
Exercise 2: Is everyone that’s alone, lonely?
Is everyone that’s alone, lonely? Of course not. If being alone created loneliness then everyone that is alone would feel lonely. Can you see that? In addition, if being alone created loneliness then anyone who was not alone wouldn’t be able to feel lonely. This would mean that everyone who is in a relationship wouldn’t be able to feel lonely. But, clearly that’s not the case. Many people in relationships feel lonely. I speak to these people all the time. If people in relationships can feel lonely, then clearly being alone isn’t the cause of loneliness. And that very clear means that being in a relationship with someone isn’t the cure for loneliness.
Exercise 3: Does the lack of being loved create loneliness?
Does the lack of being loved create loneliness? Well, let’s take a look. Are you loved? Do your parents love you? Do your friends love you? Do some people love you? If relevant, does your romantic partner love you? There are probably some people that love you. But yet, you still feel lonely. If being loved got rid of loneliness, then you wouldn’t feel lonely. To give you an example, there are many famous pop stars that have millions of people that absolutely love them and adore them. But, yet we often see in documentaries and interviews that they feel unhappy and lonely… which often motivates them to go to drugs. This demonstrates that being loved doesn’t cure loneliness and that not being loved can’t be the cause of loneliness.
The only thing creating your loneliness is thoughts
The previous exercises clearly demonstrate that none of the things that seem to be causing loneliness actually do. The only thing that causes loneliness is our own thoughts. Therefore, the answer to the question of “How to deal with loneliness?” is to address the thoughts that create your loneliness.
But, what thoughts are creating this loneliness? Well that depends. There are a few different types of thoughts that cause loneliness. But, broadly speaking, there is one major thought for single people and one major thought for people in relationships. First we’re going to look at loneliness for single people, and then we’re going to look at loneliness in relationships.
The specific thoughts that cause loneliness for single people
How to deal with loneliness for single people: What happens is that we were taught by our society, our media, our family, and our friends to believe that: “being in a relationship would make me happy”, “being in a relationship would make me feel complete and whole”, “I should be in a relationship and get married”, and “being in a relationship is how to be happiest”. And as soon as we create this fantasy, we compare our reality to the fantasy. Then, all of the sudden, this moment unconsciously judged to be completely insufficient, lacking, and not good enough. And these thoughts are what create our loneliness.
So, paradoxically having a fantasy about what you think will make you happy, creates loneliness in this moment. As you are likely aware, this then causes to be constantly searching for somebody to love us. On top of that, this leads to having fear and anxiety that we will never find someone to be with and someone to love us.
Put simply, when we are single, what creates our loneliness is the belief that a relationship can make us happy. So if you want to stop feeling lonely, you need to question that belief. You need to question whether a relationship can give you the happiness that you want. Let’s examine that now.
How to deal with loneliness when single: Discover that a relationship can’t fulfill you
Can a relationship fulfill you, make you feel whole, or make you feel as happy as you want to be? Let’s examine it.
To understand what can make you happy, you first need to understand what’s causing your unhappiness. And the simple answer is: thoughts cause your unhappiness. Here are some of the most common thoughts that make you unhappy: judgments about yourself, insecurities, thoughts about yourself that make you feel ashamed, worrying about what people think, anxiety about the future, judgments about situations in our life, judgments about people in your life, negative thoughts about “bad” events from our past, resentment towards the people in our life, and feeling guilty about the past. All this creates our unhappiness, and lack of fulfillment.
Therefore, the real question you have to ask yourself isn’t “Can a relationship make me happy?”, but rather “Can a relationship eliminate the thoughts that make me unhappy?” Take a moment to look at whether you think that spending time with someone you love or enjoy could eliminate all the unwanted thoughts mentioned above.
It is very clear that a relationship itself doesn’t have the ability to get rid of your anxiety about the future, your worrying about what other people think, or your judgments about yourself. It just doesn’t have that ability. If it did, everyone in a relationship would be happy. But yet clearly, they aren’t. Alright, that doesn’t mean that you cannot be happy, it just means that a relationship can’t make you happy in of itself.
You can be happy now… even if you’re single
How to deal with loneliness: Well, we tend to look at happiness as it’s acquired or achieved. That if we just got “this” we’d be happy, or got “that” we’d be happy. But happiness is what remains when we lose thoughts that make us unhappy. That’s it. If you can see that a relationship doesn’t have the ability to make you happy, then you can stop giving so much attention to your fantasy about how wonderful it would be if you were in a relationship. Whether you’re in a relationship or you’re single doesn’t affect your happiness; only thoughts do.
So being single, being alone, and being by yourself doesn’t create unhappiness, only thoughts do. So you’re not in a disadvantageous position of being happy. You can be as happy and fulfilled just as easily as somebody in a relationship can be. Your life is not lacking, your life isn’t missing anything, and your life isn’t insufficient just because you’re single. It’s okay. Being single doesn’t mean anything. It absolutely doesn’t mean you can’t be happy. If you can see that, then watch the loneliness just subside. You’re not missing anything.
What seems to be causing loneliness in relationships… really doesn’t
How to deal with loneliness for people in relationships: A large percentage of the married people that come to me for sessions feel lonely even though they are in relationships. Often times, even if our relationship seems perfect, even if the other person loves us, and even our life seems to be great, we often still experience loneliness.
Generally, when we are in a relationship, but still feel lonely, we look to blame it on something. We might decide “They don’t love me enough”, “They don’t appreciate me enough”, “They don’t spend enough time with me”, “They’re not intimate enough with me”, “They don’t cuddle enough”, “They’re not close enough”, or “They spend too much time at work”. We blame the loneliness on all of these things, as if they are the cause of our loneliness. But none of these things cause loneliness.
And the easy way to see that is to just look. In a moment when you’re by yourself, and you’re not with your partner, are you always lonely in these moments? If not being with your partner created this loneliness then every moment that you’re weren’t with them, you would feel lonely.
If your partner not being intimate enough with you created loneliness, then every moment that you weren’t intimate, you would be lonely. But clearly that’s not the case. Sometimes you feel lonely, sometimes you don’t. What happens is that there are specific stories that create loneliness. And when you tell these stories, the loneliness comes. But when you don’t tell those stories, there is no loneliness.
How to deal with loneliness when in relationship: First, discover what stories are creating your loneliness
If you want to know how to deal with loneliness, you first have to see what specific stories you are telling that create your loneliness. To give you hint, loneliness is almost always created by the following 2 things:
- Comparing our relationship to our ideas about what is the perfect relationship
- Comparing our partners’ actions to our ideas about what is the perfect way for a romantic partner to act
So if we believe they should be spending x amount of hours with us every day, and when they don’t spend that amount of time with us we think, “It’s not good enough that they’re not spending that amount of time with me.” Or if we think that they should want to hold me, and they should tell me that they love me. Right? Or telling me that they love me means that they do love me, or something like that. When they don’t tell us that they love us, when they don’t cuddle us, when they don’t do those things; we think, “If they loved me, they would do those things.” Or. If it was a perfect relationship, they would do those things; and then we feel lacking and insufficient. Right?
When you don’t judge, you don’t feel lonely
But, in any moment that you don’t judge your partner, when you let any ideas of how they should be acting, or what they should be doing, or what the perfect relationship would be like. There’s no loneliness, they’re just present with them. You’re just being here with them. When you’re just here with your partner, or without your partner; everything is fine, regardless of what they’re doing. But as soon as you start to tell stories, loneliness comes.
How do you feel when you judge your partner?
In this moment, just look. What do I judge that’s not good enough about them? Do I judge that they don’t spend enough time with me? Do I judge that they don’t tell me they love me enough? That they don’t appreciate me enough. Right? So look at what you judge them to do. And then notice that when you have that judgment; that’s when loneliness comes. So, if you can see that then you can stop blaming them for your loneliness. It has nothing to do with whether they appreciate you enough, or how much they appreciate you. It only has to deal with whether you think about them appreciating you enough or not enough.
If you can see that, then you can come back to this moment. Oh, I’m not missing anything. It’s just these thoughts that are creating loneliness. Nothing else, it’s nothing to do with them. And when you stop judging them, you’re left with love for them. When you don’t believe you’re judgments about someone, what’s left is love. Love is simply what remains when you don’t have judgments about others. So when you don’t judge your partner to be not good enough, you’ll feel love for them. And we can’t be lonely and feel love. We tend to think that somebody loving us will get rid of our loneliness, but it can’t. No matter what somebody else does that doesn’t get rid of our loneliness.
How to deal with loneliness
What gets rid of our loneliness when we’re in a relationship is loving the other person. Just loving them, that’s it. So if you want to stop feeling lonely, look to see what judgments you have about your partner and the relationship. And then question whether they’re true or not. Question whether they are important or not. Because when you lose those judgments you will be left with love; and be left without your loneliness.
I hope this post about how to deal with loneliness helps. Please let me know how it goes. Thank you for watching and I’ll see you on the next video.