Being single my entire life means that I have become quite accustomed to enjoying my own company. However, just lately, being alone is starting to feel exceptionally lonely. I have a job that involves being around people constantly, I have a lot of great friends and my family is huge. So why, when I am surrounded by people, do I suddenly feel so isolated?
Mindset Over Matter – How to Improve Your Mood When You’re Feeling Lonely
Whilst working with my life coach and friend, Claire Porterfield, I was provided with a great deal of tools to help improve my mindset. Working with Claire greatly improved my healing, growth and development and I would recommend her to anyone. You can read more about this here. However, I know it is not always possible to access such support. Due to this I wanted to share three tools that I use to get into a more positive mindset. Hopefully they can help you too.
Practice Gratitude Daily
Every morning and every night I list a minimum of three things that I am grateful for. These don’t need to be huge things; it can be something as simple as being grateful for your eye sight to be able to see your puppy in the morning. However, I recommend trying to make them as specific to your day as possible.
When writing the list, I also find it beneficial to write the reason why I am grateful for it. For example, one featured on this morning’s list was “I am grateful that I live in walking distance to work because it saves me money on transport.” This helps you to really FEEL the gratitude rather than just expressing gratitude by saying “I am grateful that I live close to work.”
Gratitude can provide so many benefits to many areas of your life. It has been proven to reduce stress, increase happiness levels, benefit our relationships and improve our overall health.
If you want to see the true benefits of gratitude and the power it can have in your life, I would also recommend trying ‘The Magic’ by Rhonda Byrne. It is a 254-page book that requires you to complete a different gratitude-based challenge a day for 28 consecutive days. This is no easy task, but the benefits of it are phenomenal. I find that it is better to do in a group, if anybody would like to try this as part of a group, please email me as I would happily support you along your journey.
This method is what led to the creation of this blog.
I am sure you will all relate to times where it feels like your brain is working overtime. You’re angry with someone at work, you keep replaying an argument with a friend or you just feel so overwhelmed with all the things you have to do that your brain feels scattered. Well, a mind dump is an easy way of emptying your thoughts and helping you regain focus.
Often all we need is an outlet for our upset. How many times do we go to a friend to moan, not looking for advice, just someone to listen? Well, writing all these thoughts down can provide that same sense of relief as offloading on to a friend. So, if you feel unable to physically disclose your thoughts to someone, I encourage you to write it down.
Every time I start to feel overwhelmed, I open the notes section on my phone and I just type. Writing down every thought that passes through my mind, regardless of the outcome. I don’t focus on the grammar, spelling, or logical order of the contents, I just type. Once I have written it all down, I delete the note without reading back over it. If we re-read what we have written, it brings all of the thoughts back to the front of your mind and actually can cause you more upset.
One thing that I have had to teach myself is to differ between my rational mind and my emotions. Many times, I have been angry or upset with a situation and reacted irrationally. Usually based on pain from past trauma.
Using breath-work to calm down and centre myself before reacting has allowed me to understand why I feel the way I do. These two things go hand in hand though. After all, it is much harder to rationalise with someone whose emotions are heightened. This applies when rationalising with yourself too.
There are many ways to use breath-work to calm down. A simple internet search will show countless options. However, this is the method that I have found the easiest. Breath in for three seconds, hold it in for three seconds, breathe out for three seconds and then hold it for three seconds. Repeating this as many times as necessary until you feel calm.
When I am calm, I then pretend that I am talking to a friend and try to justify the other person’s behaviour. By asking myself the questions that I would ask a friend, I usually discover that I was overreacting based on my emotions and past memories. This makes the current situation easier to process. Therefore, providing clarity, preventing fall out and improving my overall mood.
This is not an easy task so to begin with, I would start by just trying to notice negative thoughts. This may sound simple but often we’re so used to negative emotions that we don’t notice the negative thought that triggered it. Remember, we can’t change our reaction to the thoughts, if we cannot detect them.
A Lonely Social Butterfly
I am incredibly fortunate to have a very fun and active social life. However, this often revolves around alcohol. Unfortunately, what I have realised is that unless I am out drinking, I do not see anybody. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good party and am exceptionally grateful that we are now able to go out to pubs, clubs and festivals again. However, I do not feel that this type of socialising allows for true connections and platonic intimacy.
Yes, you may shout “I love you so much” over the top of the DJ playing rhythm is a dancer after a few tequila shots. You could even have a drunken deep and meaningful conversation about how much you still love your ex (even though she is a dick head). However, this is not the same intimacy felt as when you go for lunch with a friend and really talking about your life’s.
Although the partying is great fun, I miss having someone around to enjoy general life with. Not necessarily to talk to or do activities with all the time. There is just something beautiful and comforting about sitting comfortably in silence with another person. Especially when you are alone the majority of the time.
Mates Over Dates?
You would think that I would be used to being alone by now. But truth be told, until recently I have always had a friend that I could spend time with when I felt isolated. We would spend time doing the things listed above on a weekly basis. However, now these occurrences are few and far between.
You see, over the recent months, all of my friends have fallen in love and started serious relationships. Becoming consumed by their relationships and spending less time socialising. Obviously, I am incredibly happy for them and I love that they have found a partner who they enjoy spending time with. However, I also fee it is important to find time for your friends too. Yet, this doesn’t seem to be happening.
For example, I have been friends with my best friend for over twenty years. We grew up together, we’ve been through our biggest life changing moments together and we have always been each other’s support system. For the longest time we have seen each other once a week minimum. Though, since she has moved in with her partner at the beginning of last year, I have only seen her a handful of times.
Yes, life changes as we grow older, as do our responsibilities. I’m not saying that I expect to still see my friends as frequently as I did when they were single. I know that there are other people to consider when in a relationship and they will have less free time. But I am a firm believer that friendships are equally as important, if not more important, than your romantic relationships. So, why should friends fall to the bottom of the priority list when romance enters your life.
Same Old Excuses
Looking back, this has happened throughout my entire life and I have always felt ‘ditched’ by friends when they begin relationships. They always seem to use the same weak, 1920’s housewife excuses to. Saying things like this to get out of meeting up:
I’m too old for going out into town now.
Sorry, I can’t meet you at the weekend. My partner works Monday to Friday and the weekend is the only time we get to spend time with together (even though they live together).
No, I can’t go watch that movie with you because my partner wants to see it.
I would come over but I have to make my partners dinner for when they get home from work.
Many times, I have actually lost friendships entirely due to them becoming loved up. Thus due to us eventually drifting apart as a result of no longer having anything in common. Then months or years down the line, their relationships have inevitably broken down. Usually because they’re spending every waking minute together. Then they’re left feeling unable to approach their old friends for support because they’ve not seen or spoken to them for so long.
Why do I Suddenly Feel so Lonely?
Although being alone and losing friends to love has been an ongoing occurrence throughout my life, it has never felt as difficult as it does now.
Honesty, I am not sure why all of a sudden, I am grappling with loneliness and isolation. Perhaps it is because in the past I only had one friend at a time drop off the radar, whereas now all my closest friends are MIA. Maybe it is because I am actively looking for and craving that romantic intimacy, that all my loved ones seem to have. It could be because my best friend was the one person that I never expected to do this. Alternatively, it could just be an accumulation of everything.
I could sit here and surmise all day but whatever the reason is won’t change how I am feeling. When feeling such negative emotions, it can often be difficult to get out of our own heads and see the positives that we have in our life. It is important to find things that make us feel good and help us focus on the positives.