Don’t worry, it’s my cheese-o-meter that led me to create such a title for the article, and I won’t judge you at all if you feel cringy reading it. Nevertheless, we can discuss how cheesy my titles are becoming these days or we can address the substantial matter at hand, aka how to overcome loneliness.
Let’s have it. You have been there, I have been there. And probably a couple of billion people too must have been there at some point in their life, this feeling of loneliness, as if the world is one separate entity and you are a distinct entity of your own, secluded from everyone. As if nobody’s gonna save you from the cliff you are falling from, or nobody’s gonna take you out of the inverted car that’s about to explode and you are about to die a painful death.
It honestly sucks. And because we suck even more in knowing how to overcome loneliness, the whole experience becomes all the more excruciating and soul-sucking. You can show your Superman self on the outside all you want, but most of the people from the inside are scared shitless to be lonely.
Loneliness can be both physical and mental. Physical, when nobody wants to be with you and you feel all alone because you are all by yourself all the time. Mental, when even though you are surrounded by people all the time, at the level of your mind you don’t feel connected and safe with them and always have a sense of lack, a void waiting to be filled. Naturally, it’s a lot easier to overcome physical loneliness than the mental one.
We feel scared just with the idea of becoming lonely, we are not ready to lose the people who are around us. This is kinda precursor to being lonely but is more terrifying than actually being lonely.
If you had to choose between either being already lonely or always living under the fear of becoming lonely one day if, god forbid, the people closest to you are no longer with you, you’d probably choose the former, but that’s not good enough. Overcoming loneliness is something we all should be adept in.
Let The Treasure Hunt Begin
Distracting Yourself isn’t Overcoming Loneliness
Probably the go-to option for everyone to overcome any kind of misery or hardships including loneliness is to keep themselves distracted or shift their attention to some other place that helps them take their eyes off of the 8th ball.
They would go on a vacation if they are stressed from their day job, meet family and friends when feeling lonely, go out with friends to enjoy when feeling depressed, watch a movie or read Harry Potter when bored, and so on.
While it may feel like exposing yourself to these external stimuli is doing the trick as it gives you the positive and ‘feel good’ sensations, however, the reality is that it doesn’t last very long and we feel like we are back on square one in no time. Why is that?
Because we never really worked upon the one thing that was causing all the problems: our mind, our thoughts! It’s like we are so busy cutting the branches and leaves of the tree we don’t like, that we never really paid any attention to the roots. So, it may feel like you are causing some change temporarily, but as long as the roots are intact, the leaves will grow out again, only a thousand times more quickly than a real tree.
And besides, when it comes to overcoming loneliness, it may get particularly dangerous if we go by this route. Loneliness is the state where we are at our most vulnerable state and we just desperately want to come out of this rabbit hole. And desperation can make us do things we will regret in the long run. It can lower our self-esteem, push us to make rash decisions, blindside us into falling into the wrong company, all of which can bring more harm than loneliness itself.
All the more reasons to learn how to deal with loneliness.
No Reaction is at times the Best Reaction
Sometimes it’s a lot better to not take any decision and to simply let the ‘not so good phase of loneliness’ pass out, than making a blunder without thinking twice and lamenting it for the rest of your life.
It takes more courage and wisdom and willpower to not let the outer circumstances direct our actions the way they want to and remain unreactive. It’s a lot easier to simply wallow in the pool of unpleasant emotions, which deteriorates our decision-making mechanism and succumbs us into doing whatever they want us to do.
So, take a deep breath, and don’t rush into anything especially when you are feeling down and lonely. Trust me, you are gonna be grateful to yourself for not yielding to the moment. Your mind is pretty easily hijacked by the ever-flowing stream of emotions, which makes it all the more crucial and paramount for you to keep it intact.
Instead of planning an act of cold-blooded revenge when he betrayed you and left you hanging, relax and take a deep breath; rather than going on a never-ending drinking spree and ending up on the footpath of a lonely street of the city, relax and take a deep breath; in place of instantly saying yes to a job offer in another continent just because she has to move and you will be lonely without her, relax and take a breath; instead of falling down in your own eyes and asking for forgiveness for a mistake you didn’t make just to ensure that the other person doesn’t leave you all alone, take a deep breath.
Why are we afraid of Loneliness?
Now, let me take a reverse gear and zoom things out for a second. Ok, all right, I agree that we are somewhere afraid to be alone, but what’s actually causing that in the first place? If we can understand this, then even this will be a big leap in overcoming loneliness, isn’t it?
So, as far as I can see, we are afraid of being alone under two circumstances. One is where our survival is dependent on the other person, and the another is where our happiness is in the hands of someone else.
A child is dependent on his parents for his survival and incontrovertibly he will be in deep shit if hypothetically he isn’t around his family. He is gonna feel lonely AF, which will then lead to a wide range of issues in his adult life.
The other circumstance is rather precarious where we give up our control and hand it over to someone else, which implies that someone else now has the power and privilege to make us happy, sad, or do cartwheels.
Now, like most adults, I am gonna assume that you are at least capable enough to ensure your own survival yourself, without anyone’s help. If not, then you should be scared and feel paranoid about it, and do something about it without wasting another goddamn second. It’s a must, obviously.
But, survival isn’t enough and neither is it directly related to being happy in life. Survival without happiness and enjoyment is like a pizza without sauces. And that’s where this article is gonna be mainly focussed on. How to not be solely dependent on someone or something else for your life’s happiness to make sure you don’t get to the point of becoming lonely in life?
Make Yourself ‘Happiness-Independent’
If you are dependent on someone for your survival, then that person has the power to literally direct your life in any direction; he can blackmail you, undermine you, toy with you, and take advantage of you. In rare cases, if he has a good heart, then he may take care of you as well. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that you should do everything possible to cut this dependency cum leash from its roots.
Similarly, if you are not independent for your happiness and rely on someone else, then again, he has the power to make you do what he wants you to do and you may or may not have a say on it. And it isn’t just limited to a person, you might be attached with your car, business, job, mobile, house, or any other tangible or nontangible items for that matter.
Again, if you are not completely and totally independent in how you extract happiness in life, then you are kinda at the mercy of those you are dependent on. Your car who you are so dependent on will leave you high and dry if it breaks down; the job that you loved so much that you totally associated your life with, it will leave you heartbroken when you get fired; the company that became an extension of yours will break you from the inside when you file for bankruptcy; the person who was apparently given the responsibility to bring a smile on your face will become the reason for all the tears that are gonna pour out if he stops acting the way you want him to.
Now, just to be clear, all those events will hurt you anyway, but if you were dependent on them for your happiness and delights, the effect is gonna be compounded by a multiple of I don’t know, 690420?
Be Dependent on Yourself for your Happiness
If only we can have the balls to blame ourselves for our own happiness, we wouldn’t be this lonely in our lives, but nevertheless, that’s what it’s gonna take to actually overcome loneliness once and for all.
Even if your partner leaves you abruptly, or your friends stop talking to you or whatever, you aren’t gonna feel all alone and lonely if you know that you aren’t solely dependent on them for your happiness. This one thing will smoothen the transition and would make all the difference in the world.
Now, before you jump to any conclusions, just because I am preaching to be independent for your happiness, it doesn’t mean that you have to leave everything behind and live an ascetic and secluded life in the Himalayas, meditating. It’s quite the contrary.
It points towards the fact that you should strive to be self-sufficient, which means if people connect with you, well and good, and if don’t, then no harm done. You have yourself who’s gonna take care of you in both scenarios.
Independency: The Best Way to Overcome Loneliness
Think about it. When you are financially well off, then you will be able to take better care of yourself and your family and friends. And since you are self-sustained, people would naturally wanna be associated with you as they’d know that you already are in a position to help them out if need be.
Banks will become lonely the day they aren’t self-reliant anymore. People go to banks because the banks are in a position to help them out(are they now?). If the banks are only bankrupt, then what good is it for?
Likewise, if you yourself are emotionally independent, then you have a better shot at handling and supporting people around you, not to mention you yourself as well. This way, you can be an asset for the people encompassing you as opposed to being busy urging everyone to keep yourself happy and satisfied, becoming a liability.
The goal should be to have an abundance of joy and bliss inside yourself so that you can share it with people around you. Only when you have a goal like this, can you actually start working in that direction, but most of us think like a miser and never really dream beyond their paycheck level.
If you look around yourself, then you will witness that people are directly or indirectly looking for other people or objects to keep themselves delightful, which is what explains their fear of loneliness. They would have expectations, indulge in quid pro quo, and ‘I will scratch your back, you scratch mine’ schemes.
Come to think of it, they are kinda a tradeoff. They want something from someone in order to be happy, which is what keeps them trapped in a cage. You can’t truly give with open hearts as long as you are asking and expecting something in return.
Nobody Digs a Lonely Person
Let’s face it, at the end of the day, nobody really wants to be around someone who’s lonely and depressed. Would you rather spend time with someone who’s full of energy and exuberance and positive zeal, who instantly freshens up your mood, or with someone who emanates negative vibes and would depress a joker? Hopefully, the former.
Then doesn’t it make sense for you to strive to be the former in the first place? Say the person who you were dependent on for your happiness is feeling low and gloomy for whatever reasons. Then at that point in time, who would he rather want around him? Someone who’s emotionally dependent on him in the first place or someone who’s completely emotionally independent and has an abundance of happiness in his own life? Pretty straightforward.
Not only wouldn’t he want someone who himself is lonely around him when he’s dejected, that particular person who was dependent on him will also have nowhere else to go now. And instead of being of any help to the person, the dependent person will get more frustrated and angry. Two negatives may turn out to give a positive in maths, but in real life, two lonely people won’t yield a cheerful result.
Give More, Be More
If you can be like this, then you will feel as amazing when you are alone as when you are with a group of people. The single biggest reason why people can’t feel this way is because of the never-ending stream of ‘not so amazing’ thoughts that gets the better of them.
But what if, your thoughts become your best friends? What if your thoughts are keeping you entertained nonstop like nobody else can? Apparently, problem solved then. If you can enjoy your own company wholeheartedly, then the sense of loneliness won’t be able to overpower you.
And you won’t try connecting with people or objects in the outer world just for the sake of keeping yourself satisfied like everyone else is trying to. Instead, when you are living your own company to its fullest, you wouldn’t have to connect with anyone else as everyone around you would want to connect with a person like you.
So, stop accumulating things on the outside, when the crux of the problem lies inside you. You don’t have control outside, but you can have control on the inside. Any object or person you associate with on the outside would come up with his own baggage of pros and cons and you can’t simply just erase the cons and live with pros all your life.
And since you don’t have this control, you will never be truly delighted and contended from the inside. Nothing is white or black in this world, they are white and black. So, your futile attempt of inhaling the white and discarding the black isn’t gonna hold up. Therefore, it’s prudent to understand that you yourself are complete and whole, and you don’t actually need anyone to make you fulfilled.
Ideas to Make This Shift Happen
So, until now we talked about what causes loneliness, why we are afraid of loneliness, and what needs to be done to overcome loneliness for good. Now’s the time to shed some light on the path to reach our destination.
1. Don’t Over Prioritise or Under Prioritize
Giving too much importance to someone or something is never healthy for you and neither is not giving adequate importance to things that are necessary for your life.
Don’t hold onto something too strongly. Developing rock-solid beliefs about someone or something might not be your best ally in keeping yourself self-sustained from the inside. If you can start taking life a tad lightly, then that will go on a long way in helping you out.
When you give only as much importance as it’s required, then even the most brutal discussions and the serious debates that we all indulge in from time to time, that have no direct connections to our lives whatsoever, will become fun banter for you and you will feel more lively and energetic. Probably one of the best ways to declutter your inner world and let it thrive peacefully, which is indirectly necessary for helping you overcome loneliness.
The second you take a stand for something, you are already against something too. And that, at times, can create a conflict in your inner world. Just because you like the red color more in a rainbow, doesn’t mean you have to be against anyone who doesn’t like red.
You can replace the rainbow example with the hundred and twelve other instances where you give more importance to something that it actually deserves. It will make your life much more soothing and calm.
2. ‘Everything is Right and Everything is Wrong’
If you start living with this mindset, then the petty conflicts and irrelevant debates will slump to a bare minimum, and you would feel at more ease with yourself than you were before when you were clung to certain beliefs or ideologies.
The sense of freedom this will instill in you will be something worth experiencing. And the funny part is that this itself is a belief. Having no beliefs is a belief in itself. Believing in no ideology is itself an ideology.
The difference being, the other kinds of belief will restrain you, while this kind of belief will liberate you. Most of the time all it takes is just a slight change in vision and even the gravest and the most serious of situations will transform into a fun and easygoing situation.
And well, anything that helps you sort out your inner world will make you one step closer to overcoming the fear of loneliness as we discussed that the main enemy isn’t loneliness but the flux of useless and power-sucking thoughts that keep swirling in your mind.
A Practical Example (Breakup)
Let’s say, you broke up and now you are all lonely and depressed. So, one way to look at it is like most people would. Sing sad songs, get drunk, feel low and dejected, filling up your head with all kinds of negative thoughts, and believing that life is meaningless.
The other way can be to take it lightly instead and change the whole narrative of the situation. You can take it this way—when you entered into your relationship, there were some good and bad moments. Obviously, the bad must have outweighed the good, which is what must have caused the break-up in the first place.
Then aren’t you supposed to feel happier that it happened? I mean, assuming that’s what was going on in your relationship, isn’t it obvious to finally heave a sigh of relief that it’s over? If everything would have been going smoothly and fluently, then you wouldn’t have parted ways in the first place. But we don’t see it this way. Our negative biased brain would always keep on reminding you of the positive moments that you are gonna miss out on instead of the negative moments.
3. Stop Holding onto the Memories
If you can start looking at things from this angle, then something truly mesmerizing can happen to you. Your not holding onto your memories can go a long way in assisting you to overcome loneliness.
Now, instead of dwelling on your memories, you will be fully alive and aware of the present moment which itself has got so much to offer that it’d be almost impossible to feel lonely. You get lonely when you cling to a handful of good memories, and your very attachment to them is what becomes the breeding ground for loneliness.
But if you elevate your awareness and become absolutely conscious of what’s happening in your surrounding, then you’d come to the conclusion that you don’t need any memories to make this very moment special. It’s already fresh and new. It was only your outdated thinking that made this moment stale.
The Permanent Solution to Overcome Loneliness
If I have to sum up this article, then I would say that you can overcome loneliness by practicing the already preached and common go-to tips the internet is flooded with. On a temporary basis, they surely work and can indeed give you a positive boost for some time which is also necessary.
But, the permanent solution to overcome loneliness is to discover and come to terms with who you really are. This implies wetting your beak into the spiritual pond and understanding this wholeheartedly that you are the very source of happiness. You are not just a speck in this universe, instead, the whole universe is inside you.
Whenever you feel sad or lonely it’s only because of the fact that you have been misinterpreting who you actually are. One needs a very calm and peaceful mind to understand the depth of reality.
I know all of this must be sounding pretty idiotic and impractical and naive, but trust me, this is where all the answer lies. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can start digging in on your own. My job is to just give you a slight ray of light at the end of a dark tunnel, now it’s up to you. You can either dismiss it by saying that it’s just a mirage or can look and find out and reach the moon.
You can start here.
Once you tap into the Infinite source of Happiness in you, you will realize that you were never alone, you never can be. You already are one with the Universe.