There is a big difference between being alone and being lonely. Most people choose to be alone at times, but when we feel lonely for long periods or experience intense feelings of loneliness it may be we have disconnected or removed ourselves from relating and being in relationship with others.
So we long for a greater sense of connection or community, but somehow, we feel unable to make this come about. Whilst this can be a painful feeling, it is however, a good thing. Our feelings of loneliness or disconnection are informing us to do something about it.
Some of the symptoms of loneliness include:
being unable to trust anyone else to really listen when you talk about yourself
feeling alienated from others and from your surroundings
feeling angry and judgemental of others
feeling self-conscious or ill at ease with others, or socially inadequate
feeling that there must be something wrong with you
feeling there is no one with whom you can share your feelings or experience
feeling unloved and unwanted
finding it almost impossible to open up and share how you feel
It may seem as if there is nothing you can do about your loneliness, yet a loneliness cure is actually within your grasp. At ARM we see people who are lonely as having actively made a choice to disconnect from others, consciously or unconsciously. The reasons for this choice varies from person to person but some common factors are:
deeply negative beliefs about yourself
depression and anxiety
fears of being abandoned
feeling of self-loathing
feelings of being superior to others
feelings of not being understood by anyone
feelings of not belonging
you have been really hurt by others
having gone through traumatic events, with no one there for you
having been told – or believing – that you are not lovable
Human beings need relationships; they are necessary for our well-being. When we choose to be alone it is often because relationships trigger negative feelings and thoughts. Yet although we are trying to protect ourselves from emotional distress, using being alone as a defence mechanism, we end up feeling worse than ever and become completely emotionally isolated.
When people close themselves off and keep their feelings completely to themselves they are unable to receive all the positive things that relating to other people can give. If we are reluctant or unwilling or unable to communicate with others, except perhaps concerning the most superficial matters or in the most superficial ways, we cannot receive emotional connection and support. We become emotionally “shut down” or numb. Over time this leads to deep loneliness, isolation, a distinct disconnect from people and activities and most importantly of all, from joy and happiness.
How Counselling Helps in Dealing with Loneliness
The first thing that will happen in counselling is that you will be building a new relationship with another person. In itself this is powerfully healing and will break your isolation. Unlike other relationships you may have experienced the counselling relationship is safe. A counsellor doesn’t bring their own needs or demands to a session; rather counselling is totally about you and for your benefit.
If you are lonely it’s possible that you believe there is something wrong with you, or that your needs aren't important. Perhaps you think if other people got to know you they would think that you were ‘silly,' wouldn't like you or wouldn’t understand you. In counselling you will be able to question whether your perception is truly accurate and discover that how you see yourself may not, in fact, be how another person sees you. Your counsellor can help you discover the real you and see how that real you is totally acceptable.
Together with your therapist you will explore the superficial and deeper obstacles that have kept you in loneliness. You will look together at what motivates you and keeps you lonely. While feeling lonely may be painful it is a familiar pain and gives a sense of safety and control. If you are alone no one can hurt you or challenge your beliefs or opinions. In counselling you can look at altering the deeply ingrained thoughts and beliefs that have led to your loneliness. This is a big step you will be taking, but it has great rewards.
Some people, have tried counselling and been told by their counsellors to actively seek out others, to go to social functions and to make new friends. However, drastically changing your social circle can be an overwhelming undertaking for anyone. If you are already feeling painfully lonely and negative about yourself, it can feel an utterly impossible thing to do.
At All Relationship Matters we don’t see things in such superficial terms. Instead, we look deeper, caring more, helping you come out of your loneliness in a way that is truly beneficial, sustaining and doable. Counselling according to an evidence-based therapeutic plan and within a therapeutic relationship is a collaborative process and a deeply empowering one. Counselling for loneliness will help you
Understand how your choices have impacted or benefited you
Explore reasons you have disconnected from others
Learn how to take the initiative about talking to others, rather than always waiting for them to come to you.
Learn how to take sensible risks about revealing yourself and saying what is on your mind.
Learn how to find and connect with other people who are on your wavelength.
Know the real you and that you are totally acceptable.
Realise that being lonely doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you.
Learn how to be relaxed in your own company.
Enjoy doing the same activities which you would do with a friend or partner.
Come out of your isolation in a safe way, connect to others and feel part of the world.
Decide how to achieve results with a plan that works
Counselling can be the key to shedding your feelings of self-loathing and negative beliefs about how others perceive you. It leads to you becoming more at peace and accepting of yourself, more connected with others and more able to lead a happy and fulfilled life.
At ARM we have helped many lonely people explore what’s really going on for them and to change their lives. Imagine how it might feel to free yourself of your loneliness. If you are looking for a loneliness cure take the first step towards a brighter future for yourself and call us. As skilled and dedicated relationship counsellors, we can help.