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Overcoming Loneliness

Overcoming Loneliness

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal ways to overcome loneliness – now and at any time of the year.

First a quick update:

“Dating and making a lasting first impression”
Read the transcript the interview I gave to Jennifer VogelRelationships for twentysomethings” reporter for revealing techniques, tips and strategies to help you make lasting first impressions when dating. Read more here.

“Emotional Vampires”
Next week, I will be releasing a detailed interview I just gave to the German psychology magazine PM offering more insights into handling and dealing with emotional vampires. Meanwhile you can read about dealing with emotional vampires and freeing the emotional vampire in you.

Now, let’s talk about ways to overcome loneliness.

For many people, the toughest, most challenging and most stressful time of the year is The Holiday Season and its various celebrations & rituals such as Christmastime, the New Year and the parties. Expectations are created for giving gifts, throwing parties, welcoming family members, dealing with relatives & others whom you cannot stand, and braving a happy face while facing the expectations that others have of you: your career, personal and romantic life, the way you interact with others and the person you have become!

The result can be like a Molotov cocktail – tension, arguments, fall-outs, emotional outbursts, sadness, grief and depression.

One of the most common appeals to me from clients and others is for help dealing with loneliness, particularly around the Holidays.

The dictionary defines lonely as

  1. Affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome
  2. Destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, support, etc.: a lonely exile
  3. Lone; solitary; without company; companionless
  4. Remote from places of human habitation; desolate; unfrequented; bleak: a lonely road
  5. Standing apart; isolated: a lonely tower

All of the above five definitions can be applied to the emotional and physical states of loneliness. For some people, loneliness can be brought on by a loss, a breakup or even a change in lifestyle (children leaving for college, a move to a new home or town, etc.) For others, loneliness can be the result of the initial desire to be alone for a short period that eventually becomes a habit and lifestyle. And for others still, loneliness can almost be self-inflicted as one begins to suffer from low self-esteem, feeling insecure, not good enough, afraid (of rejection, failure, humiliation) or experiencing negative emotions such as bitterness, anger, resentment and a lack of forgiveness. These emotions, attitudes and perspectives can almost push someone to break off contact from others and isolate him or herself.

Some people experience loneliness because they are without a romantic partner, without a meaningful companion or they feel unable to connect with others.

So, here are a few tips and techniques to overcome loneliness:

While it may sound absurd, step one is to recognize that you are feeling or experiencing loneliness. I say “it may sound absurd” because some people create a pattern and lifestyle where they have become so independent yet unhappy, that they fail to recognize that the cause of their unhappiness is because they have isolated themselves from the world and as such are now experiencing loneliness.

Step two is to identify from where this loneliness comes. What happened that lead you to be alone and feel lonely? Was it a loss, a breakup or one of the other reasons I mentioned earlier? Also, ask yourself: “What do I believe about myself, about my self-worth? Do I trust myself and/or others?”

I worked with one client, Roxanne, who was holding herself back from love and connecting with others because she felt that if she were to fall in love with someone new she would be betraying her last love which she felt to be perfect, which of course, it wasn’t because they broke up. Roxanne, also mistakenly believed she couldn’t find a new love as great as the last.

And for Paul, another client, he began to socially withdraw when his last girlfriend cheated on him. Paul decided it was best to be alone for a while. The problem occurred when he eventually felt so safe and secure being alone that it became his comfort zone and his security blanket and now he found himself hiding in his loneliness even though he was miserable (he wasn’t sleeping well, had lost his appetite and seemed apathetic about exercise.) As we worked together, we uncovered his deep fear that he felt he wasn’t good enough, that a new partner might reject him or cheat on him, and that if she did, he would then feel the same tremendous pain that he felt when his girlfriend betrayed him.

Step three is to work on the cause of the loneliness i.e. the event that created it and the feelings and beliefs associated with that event. The goal here is to:

  1. Clear and release the painful emotions of the past
  2. Identify and change your beliefs that the same thing will happen over and over again (break the association or belief that “people/love/marriage/relationships = pain”)
  3. Create new beliefs by accepting and learning from the past and allowing yourself to experience new relationships. This also involves forgiving yourself and raising the levels of your beliefs around deservedness

Step four is acceptance and hope. Accept what has happened in the past and accept that life might be different now; it might never even be the same again as it once was, but, it can still be enjoyable, exciting and adventurous.

Step five is to take action. Beware though that faceless action with other people via technology does not equal the action necessary to conquer loneliness. For example, surfing the internet, blogging or speaking and communicating via anonymous chat rooms might give you a sense of being connected to the world but it does not create the real intimate connection that the soul needs to overcome loneliness which occurs only when you become emotionally vulnerable and when you reveal your real self, and vice versa.

Take small steps but take action.

Try new things.

Consider ways to immerse yourself in the world once more. For example, I was giving a training program at a seminar on relationships for singles. I emphasized the point that the main reason people are single is because it is a subconscious choice driven by the fear that we are not good enough (The Law of Deservedness.) I recall one participant coming to me and I challenged her to consider the real reasons she is staying at home on Friday nights instead of going out on dates. She replied with a powerful tone of voice, “Look, Patrick, I know and believe I am good enough and deserve the best. I just stay at home because by Friday night I am simply tired and want to rest.”

“Okay” I said, in a soft and accepting voice – aware that the best approach was to leave it there.

Two days later, still at the seminar, I was walking along the hallway when I heard a woman’s voice calling my name. I turned around and it was that same woman. She had chased me down now to tell me, “You were right. I thought about it more and awoke early in the morning aware that it is about the Law of Deservedness. I have been using the excuse of being tired to avoid going out on dates because I was afraid and didn’t think I was that attractive or good enough.”

We both smiled.

So again, take action:

  • Stop trying to do everything on your own; allow others to help and support you; ease the reins of control – stop being overly controlling
  • If you are a woman, stop trying to be so independent that no man wants to be around you because he feels you don’t need him at all
  • If you are a man, learn to be more flexible and patient; accept that women need open dialogue and communication in a relationship
  • Identify the ways you feed the loneliness – addictions, social withdrawal, self-pity, critical and judgmental attitudes towards others; (remember if you keep telling yourself that people are bad and you keep looking for flaws, you will lose all motivation to connect with others and you will only meet the types of people you condemn)
  • Join groups at your church, synagogue or congregation
  • Volunteer time and do charity work; express kindness and affection (when you feel needed and valued you will gain more inspiration and confidence to get out and meet more people and to give others a chance in your life)
  • Start a conversation with new people – yes with a stranger – at a coffee shop, bookstore, supermarket, etc. To do that, you must get out of the house! (Read my book “Find Love Fast”)
  • When meeting people, remember to ask questions and express sincere interest in the other person; don’t just talk about yourself or cry for pity, otherwise you will get the pity but you will lose a potential friend
  • Join a club based around your hobbies, interests, etc.
  • Invite people over for small gatherings – coffee, tea, etc.
  • Find a new purpose (if there has been dramatic changes in your life and you need to reevaluate your identity and role).
  • Beware of continually choosing comfort (i.e. watching television, laying on the couch) and choose to step out and try new things; focus on the pleasure of the possible reward and benefit of the new adventure
  • Build self-confidence (every time you have a small success, you raise your self-confidence) – use my hypnosis audio program “Supreme Self-Confidence”
  • Bring closure and inner resolution to your old relationships; Use my program “Get over it combo package”.

Finally, become childlike about life; remembering that when you were a child and you fell or hurt yourself, you got up and tried again until you got it right!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

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