“Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself.” – Rupi Kaur
Ponder this quote for a moment…what does loneliness mean to you? What role does it play in your life?
It’s likely that at some point in your life you’ve felt lonely, or even more ominously, felt the fear of being alone. These emotions make us question ourselves – who we are, the choices we’ve made/are making and leaves us full of self-doubt. Actually, this is a time when you need to assess your needs and consider whether the relationships you have are meeting them.
It is important to identify what you are lonely about and why you are lonely.
If we are lonely because we are really craving contact with people then that’s something we need to pin-point and begin to tackle. Whether that’s reaching out for different types of support or groups to connect with like-minded people (particularly when we are going through something difficult like a mental illness). Online forums (social media especially) often get a lot of negative press but they can also be wonderful communities for people to share encouragement and to feel understood by people who are going through similar experiences.
Loneliness doesn’t have to be about physical isolation.
One of our clients shares her feelings about loneliness during her eating disorder recovery journey…
“Loneliness played a big role in my eating disorder recovery. As someone who’s typically described as an ‘extrovert’, I do indeed receive energy from being around others. But, in the very beginnings of my eating disorder, I packed away my extrovert self, and isolated myself from as many people as possible: family, friends… I even gave my dog the cold shoulder! I purposely made myself as lonely as possible, so I could focus on a single objective.
My eating disorder was slowly killing me and I was frighteningly depressed. I was completely alone but a big part of me knew that this wasn’t really me. I was crying out to be saved.
In recovery, and after moving to a new city, I slowly started to rediscover myself. I was gifted little glimpses of my personality and energy, and began to crave connection with others as I started to ache for real life once more. In my bid to rush back into “normal life”, however, I went overboard. Before I knew it, I was organising up to 3 meetups with friends per day and was aggressively surrounding myself with people. Once more, I started to find it painful and unsustainable.
So loneliness was back in my life, but in a very different way than before. It was that loneliness you feel when you’re surrounded by people, but you feel entirely disconnected from every single one of them. Your lack of a meaningful relationship leaves you feeling completely alone and vulnerable. By surrounding myself with people, I was trying to prove to myself that I was acceptable, likeable and busy. Yet I couldn’t really trust their opinion of me, because what of me were they actually seeing?
After this epiphany, I finally decided to focus on myself. I put my hands up with the knowledge that I needed first to connect with myself – to understand who I really am and what sort of energy I want to attract into my life. In deciding to love myself first, I began to put boundaries in with people who were playing a negative role in my life. And whilst in the past, the idea of losing ‘friendships’ made me sick with anxiety, that fear soon dissipated as I felt the true love and care from the new friends I was making. There was no negativity… not complicity… no bitching… there was only love and respect for one another. The deep connection I was feeling made me see them more as sisters. The idea of sitting on the sofa with a glass of wine made me even more excited than the idea of a “big night out”.
Loneliness taught me that I needed more than anything to discover myself and attend to my needs first before trying to meet those needs through others. If you aren’t loyal to yourself, how can you be loyal to anyone else? If you don’t love yourself, how is anyone going to love you – the real you?
I love this quote:
“When my circle got smaller, my vision got clearer. There’s strength in loyalty not numbers”
Loneliness is a positive emotion to feel. It’s a little alert from your intuition telling you something is off, and you’re in need of something. Only you can identify what that need is, and by doing so, begin to nurture that part of you that you’ve been neglecting all this time.
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