In Part One we established that loneliness is not only a universal feeling, but it’s also a trigger for possible recurrence of compulsive sexual behavior and romantic fantasy. Let’s consider some safe, productive ways to work with loneliness.
- Accept loneliness as a natural feeling. Don’t fight it or hide from it. Observe it with curiosity. Be non-judgmental.
- Ride the wave. Loneliness generally comes in waves—some bigger, some smaller. Eventually, the waves will pass.
- This may sound counterintuitive, but meditation is a way to build inner capacity for all of your feelings and internal states. If you already meditate, increase your time. If you don’t meditate, consider a guided self-compassion meditation (e.g. Chris Germer or Tara Brach on YouTube)
- Rather than suffering in silence, writing helps you find your voice and put into words what the loneliness is trying to express.
- Surround yourself with emotionally-reliable people. Take contrary action and reach out to those you trust. Chances are they have been in your shoes and will appreciate your vulnerability to share about your loneliness.
- Join a therapy group (or support group). Groups break the isolation. The longer you are in a group, the more you will internalize the group members and in turn, these relationships becomes portable.
- Attend as many twelve-step meetings as possible. Especially during the holidays, meetings provide a safe enough place to talk about your loneliness. Name it and share it.
- Notice what helps you feel more connected as well as what creates disconnection. Lean into the relationships and experiences that truly help you feel more connected with yourself and others.
- Re-assess your spiritual connection. Whether it’s God, Higher Power, Universal Energy or even nature, explore ways to feel more deeply connected to a “power greater than yourself.”
- Don’t judge yourself for being lonely. Instead, take this as an opportunity to become a more compassionate parent to the little kid inside of you.
- Be of service at twelve step meetings or walk dogs at your local animal shelter. Being there for others will give you a respite from your own isolation.
We are all lonely at one time or another, but how we respond to the loneliness is the key. Responding with acceptance, understanding and love will ease the pain inside. Cultivate compassionate connections for comfort and soothing whenever you can use a warm hug or a shoulder to lean on.