4 Things Not to Do When You're Lonely
I get lonely. A lot. That’s stupid, right? I mean, I know that’s absurd; I have an amazingly supportive family, many caring friends, and a guy who loves me—like, really does. But, for some reason, it’s not enough. As soon as I’m done hanging out with friends, when my family goes to sleep, when I get off the phone with my bf, I sink right back into it. Oh, for a few minutes I still glow with the warmth of the conversations and experiences I had, but it doesn’t last long. Soon, I feel alone again. Soon, I need another reinforcement that I am actually loved. That people like me. It’s never enough. Sometimes, I can survive on memories, on things people tell me, on good moments. But sooner or later, I’m hit with the gripping fear of being alone.
I can’t even begin to imagine how I would feel if I didn’t have supportive people in my life. How do people who don’t have loving parents do it? How can someone survive when her boyfriend is abusive? How did I get so lucky?
And then why do I feel so alone?
Well, I’ve been dealing with this for a long time. And I have learned some things along the way, mostly things not to do. So here is the list I have compiled of things you shouldn’t do when you’re lonely:
1. Don’t try to suppress it.
Oh, I’ve done this so many times. I will start to get the sinking feeling in my stomach, and I’ll do everything I can to ignore it. I’ll pretend I’m fine and keep doing what I’m doing. I’m not saying this is the worst thing to do—in fact, this may be better than many of the other responses—but it’s never good to suppress something without dealing with it. And I’m not saying you need to let all your feelings out and follow your heart! But it can be highly dangerous to ignore something so strong for a long time. Feelings can only be suppressed for so long. They need to be dealt with. And the only way you can deal with something is if you acknowledge it. As soon as I realized this and started writing down my feelings or just talking to God about them, I felt so much better. And I hadn’t even started working on fixing anything yet!
2. Don’t try to distract yourself.
It’s so much easier just to find something else to do distract you instead of addressing negative feelings. I mean, who really ever feels up to soul-searching in bed at 1 am—or anytime, really? It’s so convenient to start a movie (preferably romance where the guy is perfectly attentive to the girl’s every need), read a book, have a drink, even sleep. Something I do a lot is find another person and try to distract my negative feelings by getting reinforcement from them. They may not be the person whose affection I wanted in the first place, but attention is attention, right? And distractions can work really well. For a while. Then, when that wears off, I’m left exactly where I was before.
3. Don’t blame others.
It is a very natural reaction to blame others and fuel bitterness toward them when you feel neglected. After all, if they paid more attention to you, you wouldn’t be feeling like this, right? Wrong. When we seek to fill our desires with anything (or anyone) other than God, it will never be enough. Your partner could be suffocating you with attention, and you’d still not be satisfied. Why? Because he’s not God. God never intended for a person to be able to fulfill anyone’s desires. So we must not expect him to. We must turn to the one being who can satisfy our loneliness. And that’s God.
4.Don’t blame yourself.
When I get lonely, I tend to feel worthless. Like, why does nobody care about me? Or sometimes, even worse, I crave just one person’s attention. And no matter how many people surround me at the time, if I don’t hear from that one person, I’m sad. I start thinking things like: I’m not exciting enough. He has better things to do than worry about me. I’m so clingy; why do I need to have his attention all the time? Why doesn’t he want to be with me as much as I want to be with him? What’s wrong with me? All these questions form a cycle in my head and can go on repeat for hours if I let them. That’s where I have to stop myself. I must capture my thoughts and tell myself that it’s not me. There’s nothing wrong with me. But I do need to reevaluate what I’m looking to for the source of my contentment. I’m not worthless, and I’m not crazy. I’m simply doing the wrong thing.
So what can I do?
How do I deal with loneliness? I wish I could give you a perfectly working formula on this one—that would mean I wouldn’t have problems like these anymore. But I do. I still struggle with loneliness a lot. (I’ll let you in on a secret: I started writing this, because I was lonely and needed encouragement.)
But I do know the answer. I pretty much gave it to you in each what-not-to-do. The answer is simple, but not easy: I must go to God. He is the only one who can turn my feeling of neglect into acceptance. He’s the only one who won’t ever leave. The only one who will always be there. The only one who understands my deepest longings. He won’t ever think I’m clingy; He won’t ever send me away because He’s busy. He loves me. He desires for me to talk to Him. He’s happy when I spend time with Him. There is no such thing as too much.
Why do I know this and still feel lonely? Why am I not perfectly satisfied all the time? The problem isn’t with God. He’s always there. It is my thoughts that control me. (And this is probably a subject that needs a separate post.) My mind simply doesn’t comprehend what this means. I mean, I know God loves me and He’s all I need, but I don’t fully believe it. And that’s why I constantly have to be renewing my mind, reminding myself of this simple truth.
God loves me.
God loves you. And that’s all you need.
How do you deal with feelings of loneliness and abandonment? Have you ever experienced any of these “coping mechanisms?” How did you solve them? I’d love to hear your thoughts!