Feeling Lonely: One day you are sitting alone after a long day and it hits you: you are feeling lonely. Whether you moved to a new city, had a falling out with a friend, or going through a breakup, loneliness is an all too familiar feeling that creeps up on even the strongest of us. But that’s just it; why does feeling lonely have to signify weakness, a loss, or an empty void needed desperately to be filled? By reframing loneliness as “reflective time”, you can begin to recognize that this newfound discovery of utilizing this time to find your passions, your voice, and most importantly your self-worth.
Finding Your Passions
For whatever reason, you have found yourself single, in every sense of the word. Your week nights were once filled with sharing your home with your significant other watching your favorite TV shows. Now suddenly you come home to an empty house and find yourself sitting in front of the TV, robotically tuning into your Monday night TV show to realize that you don’t actually like watching it. As you change the channel, you have a wave of defiance and pride rush over you. You have just made your first decision as a newly single person! The same can be said about being alone for the first time in a new city. Your weeknights were jam packed with exercise classes with friends, family dinners, and meeting coworkers after work before heading home for the night. Now you find yourself unsure of how to utilize all of the new-found free time after you finish your phone calls with your loved ones.
Take note of your everyday routines and start pinpointing why you have created these rituals. Spending time with loved ones is about compromise, but now is the time to find out what you truly desire. Sign up for that art class you always say you will attend. Join a gym and ride on the endorphins as you take a new workout class or run on the treadmill. The more you venture out of your comfort zone, the more you discover what makes your passionate about being alive! The best part is that you will hopefully find like-mined individuals who will share the same interests as you, and you will create new relationships while keeping true to yourself.
Finding Your Voice
When you are focusing on pleasing others, it may start out as making a few sacrifices in the sake of compromises, but soon you begin to notice that you are giving away more and more of yourself to cater to someone else. Instead of giving into that sinking feeling of feeling lonely, utilize this time to find your own voice. Maybe your girlfriend hated olives so you catered your diet to accommodate her. Maybe your friend from your hometown would never let you see an action film when you went to the movies. As you begin rediscovering your passions and interests, remember that in future relationships it is important to keep the parts of you that make you… you! Practice asserting yourself with strangers and think about how it makes you feel. Keep in mind that change can be uncomfortable, especially if you have been used to putting others first for so long. It may take some time, but keep asserting your needs and realizing that you don’t always need to come second to someone else.
Finding Your Self-Worth
So you have spent some time finding new interests, enjoying your creative outlets that you have neglected, and found your assertive voice. Hopefully by now you have realized that it’s important to identify when to make your needs a priority. With that new-found confidence and understanding comes rediscovering your self-worth. Self-worth by definition is your emotional attitude and judgment of you. When you find yourself feeling lonely, the first step is to reframe this by accepting that if you truly love and respect yourself, that you are never alone. Take this time to evaluate a past relationship. When were times you lost voice, stretched your boundaries, or gave into someone else’s criticism, judgment, or ridicule? Take account of these instances and figure out patterns of how and why you chose to react the way you did, and what you could’ve done differently. For example, you were in a relationship and you wanted to go out with friends on a Friday night, but your partner asked you to stay home to spend time with them. You gave into the request, however the next Friday night approaches and your partner asks you again to cancel your plans and stay home with them. As you begin to notice this pattern, you voiced a concern, only to have your partner become defensive and question your commitment to the relationship. Now that you are single, you noticed that this behavior was controlling and restricted your life outside of the relationship. By taking the time out to recognize these patterns, you are learning how to assert yourself in future relationships, as well as identifying “red flags” and unhealthy behavior that is a detriment to your well-being.
Remember that it is okay to feel upset and uncomfortable when you are alone, but embracing your feelings will help turn “feeling lonely” into an exciting time of self-discovery and reflection. If you are struggling with adjusting with this change, finding a support system, such as speaking with a therapist at the Center for Growth www.thecenterforgrowth.com, could help you navigate this new experience. We offer sessions in person in Philadelphia, Ocean City, Mechanicsville, Santa Fe as well as virtual video sessions.