If you’re feeling lonely, you need to stop trying to distract yourself.
It won’t last.
If you’re getting your nails done or seeing a concert, that’s great. But you still have to go home. If you’re feeling lonely on this particular day, there’s a reason. Your loneliness is an emotional flare that signals you to dig in.
Feeling lonely can be difficult, but when I did a quick search on Google to see how people describe the word “lonely”, one word caught my eye:
A big part of loneliness is having the sense that you don’t have an emotional home.
That’s why big celebrations of love like Valentine’s Day can feel especially tough when you’re single.
For most people, family reminds them of home. And often, when they start dating, that sense of home transfers to their romantic partners.
So it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that if you don’t have a partner or a sense of family, you have nowhere to go.
But that doesn’t have to be true.
If you’re feeling homeless during this season, the good news is this:
You can create a home for yourself.
If you’re someone who loves decorating your living space, then you know what I’m talking about.
At first, when you move to a new place and it’s completely empty, it doesn’t really reflect who you are.
But then you add posters or plants and it starts filling up with little pieces of you.
This holiday, focus on making a home for yourself. That means physically, as well as emotionally.
Start by cleaning up.
When I first decided to move to my studio apartment, I didn’t understand the whole KonMari craze. I realized I had way too much clutter though, so, in the process of moving, I took some time to learn the proper method and sifted all my belongings into towering piles.
After moving into my new place and settling in, it suddenly clicked for me.
I realized, in an instant, that I was completely surrounded by things that I love. The stuffed animal that my Dad gave me as a little girl. Polaroid pictures showing my fondest memories. A record I had bought when I flew out to see my favorite artist.
I felt a million times lighter. And I felt content.
It’s important to fill your home with reflections of yourself.
It’s lonely to look around your living space and notice that your home doesn’t actually reflect you, but how you’ve been defined by others.
Maybe you’re surrounded by the litterings of a bunch of hobbies you never committed to because at one point you wanted to be cool and accepted like those people.
Maybe, scattered around you, are clothes that you actually don’t care for but for some reason, you think you have to dress that way for (fill in the blank).
Or maybe it’s a stack of books you’ve never read and will probably never read, but you leave them around because they make you look smart.
Make your space your own. Follow Marie Kondo’s 5S system and sift through your things one by one, asking yourself, “ Do I love this? Does this represent me, or is this just who I think I should be?”
Journal to dig deeper into yourself.
Part of making a home is becoming deeply familiar with its nooks and crannies. If you have painful emotions and you’re not sure where they stem from, you need to find out why.
A research-backed way to do this is by journaling. For example, this landmark study showed that journaling about traumatic experiences for only four days in a row resulted in more positive moods and fewer illnesses six weeks later.
If you do it correctly, it can hopefully produce similar effects for you.
Start with journaling about why you’re feeling lonely. Is it because you have an expectation for yourself? Are you feeling lonely a lot lately, or is this an isolated occurrence?
Use your loneliness as an opportunity to get to know yourself better.
Once you have a good understanding of why you feel lonely, you can then dig into what ideas, memories, items, thoughts that you associate with “home”. Brainstorm about how you can infuse more of that feeling into your life.
I’ve noticed that I immediately feel less lonely when I light candles in my apartment. Perhaps it’s the warmth, the sense of life, or the aroma that fills the air.
Everyone has their own source of comfort. It may be food,or getting warm under some blankets, or curling up with a good book.
Find out what that is for you, and start taking steps to surround yourself with the comforts of home.
Take your sense of home with you, wherever you go.
In order to take “home” with you, you have to figure out who you are and what you like.
An exercise to try: go into any mall, thrift shop, or big department store, like Target.
Walk around and ask yourself, “What would I wear/buy/do if I forget everything I’ve learned about myself before today? If I could be anyone today, what do I actually like?”
You may find that, when you remove all anchors to who you think you should be, you’re not actually who you want to be.
This could mean you dress safe instead of wearing what you actually like, or maybe you’ve never even asked yourself what you like.
Maybe you’re starting to dress like your dad. Or your mom. Or your idea of what a cool kid dresses like.
But you’ve never dressed like you.
And even then, “you” change every single day.
Maybe you dressed like “you” yesterday, but what about now, in this moment?
Because tomorrow, you can be someone else entirely, and you’re allowed to do that.
You can throw on a pair of edgy ripped skinny jeans and then tomorrow slip into a preppy plaid dress.
None of it defines you. You define you.
What matters is that you are okay with the person you are. But it starts with knowing who you are. Or, really, it’s about knowing how to have an ongoing conversation with yourself.
If you are able to feel a constant connection with yourself from moment to moment, you’ll be able to take your sense of “home” anywhere. Even if the things around you change, you’ll be able to roll with the punches.
You’ll be confident in your ability to respond to situations and express yourself authentically.
You’ll know yourself and come to appreciate that person.
“Loneliness is you crying out for connection with yourself.”— Anonymous
If, after all this, you’re still feeling lonely…. that’s okay.
Don’t beat yourself up about it.
Even though you may feel alone, you’re not.
Over half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 say they don’t have a steady romantic partner.
Regardless of how you feel, it’s a fact that you’re not alone. And if you’re feeling alone, there’s a reason why. It’s not the world, but the way you perceive the world. Is your perspective an accurate perception of reality?
You’re not alone, you’re just feeling lonely for a bit.
And that’s okay.
Do what you need to do. Invite loved ones over. Go catch a movie. Get your nails done. Light some candles. Take care of yourself.
Just know that if the issue goes deeper, the distractions won’t last forever.
Pay attention to your loneliness, attempt to understand who you are and who you want to be, and practice creating an emotional sense of home no matter where you go.
You might come to find that being alone isn’t so bad anymore.
Join the Addiction to Abundance newsletter for my best relationship tips and recommendations, delivered straight to your inbox every Friday AM.