One of the most mind-boggling things about loneliness is that everyone feels it. It’s a challenge everyone has experienced at least once, like feeling hungry, or catching the common cold. So why don’t we share our struggles, when it could make us feel less lonely?
Why is loneliness so hard to talk about?
The stigma around loneliness
According to the 2016 VICELAND UK Census, loneliness is the number one fear of young people today—ranking ahead of losing a home or a job.
It seems everyone worries about loneliness, yet nobody feels they can share their struggle.
Not that we need to point it out, but social media makes it seem like everyone’s constantly having fun and going out. Sitting at home (like we sometimes NEED to do), it’s easy to feel left out and alone.
Since people all seem the opposite of lonely, it feels weird to explain that you feel isolated. And feeling like you can’t share how you’re feeling makes you even more lonely.
We all feel we can’t connect, but we all need to connect. So it seems the problem and the solution are both pretty clear. We have to share our struggles. But how?
Share your struggle
One of the best ways to fight loneliness is to share your struggle. It may feel scary, and you might be the first in your social circle to do it. But you’ll quickly find that many of your peers are going through the same thing.
By sharing, you open up the lines of communication – vulnerability is one of the best predictors of connection. And by being vulnerable in your loneliness, you might help others feel less alone, too.
You can start by telling a close friend if you’ve been feeling down. Or by sharing that you feel lonely, and asking for company while doing chores or running errands.
Or try explaining how you don’t feel connected even around family and loved ones. You’d be surprised how many people get this feeling, and some support from a friend can make sharing worth it.
Another way to share your struggle and feel less lonely is to be active in reaching out to people. Sometimes we feel like no one wants to talk with us, or we’re wasting others’ time. But a lot of us are yearning to talk and just too scared to start a conversation.
When you share your struggle, the risk is worth the reward.
Ways to make sharing easier
It’s easiest to get stuck feeling alone, when you think nobody else is. Try one of these techniques to gain some perspective and help yourself reach out.
Create a connection map
When you feel cut off from everyone, try making a map of connections. Start with yourself at the center, and write down names surrounding yours, drawing a line to connect them to you. These could be of friends, family, fellow club members…they could be people you always see on the street, or even people you hope to get to know!
Even if you don’t regularly talk to someone, your physical presence in their life makes at least some difference. And when you’re done making your connection map, you may realize that you’re a lot less alone than you thought!
How would you feel?
Imagine if an acquaintance asked you out to lunch. Maybe you haven’t talked to them in a while, or you never got to know each other that well in the first place.
How would you feel? You’d probably be excited to hang out with someone, and feel happy that they thought of you.
So try to remember that as awkward as you might feel, reaching out will probably be received as positive rather than neutral or negative.
You might make someone’s day by saying hi out of the blue, and you get to hang out and break your loneliness. Win-win!
Think of the last time…
Think of the last time you supported a friend through a tough time. Being able to help a friend in their hour of need feels empowering and helps strengthen your bond. You felt happy to be able to help, right?
Well, friends help each other – it’s a two way street. You also might feel more comfortable sharing your struggle with someone who has been there, too.
So now it’s your turn to ask for support! Open yourself up to the same friend, and you might feel less alone.
We totally understand it’s easier said than done, and the stigma surrounding loneliness can make it hard to reach out to others. You may not know where to even start, or how others will react.
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