Loneliness is a very individual feeling. For some it can be empty and isolating, for others noisy and self-persecuting. You might experience a feeling that something is not right, or you might feel an intense and deep pain. Loneliness may be related to missing a specific person because they have died or are far away, or it may involve feeling alone because you are out of contact with people because of work or your life situation. Loneliness can even be felt when you are surrounded by people, but are having difficulty communicating with them.

Loneliness is a passive state. It is not the same as being alone. A person will always have time when they choose to be alone. Loneliness is the feeling of being alone, sad and feeling trapped, seemingly with no way of the problem. When we suffer from loneliness we tend to feel so down that we become lethargic and do nothing to try to change it. We hope that it may someday change, but meanwhile we wallow in the feeling, strangely embracing it. Holding on to loneliness and the feelings that go with it can however lead to depression and complete helplessness.

The alternative to viewing loneliness as an unalterable characteristic of our lives is to recognise it as something that can be changed. It is also important to realise that loneliness is a common experience suffered by most people, to some degree, at sometime in their lives. Most importantly it should be viewed as a signal or indicator of important personal needs that are not being met.

Combating loneliness may involve a variety of tasks. It may involve learning to do things differently, becoming more independent, or learning to adjust psychological attitudes or behaviours to simply feel better and more content about yourself in general.

There are a number of ways to begin making improvements. Start by reminding yourself that loneliness does not have to last forever and that you are the one and only person who can change it.

Look for ways to get involved with other people.
Put yourself in situations where you will meet new people.
Make use of resources such as organisations and activities you enjoy.
Work at developing social skills and assertiveness.
Judge each new people from a new perspective, not on past experiences.
Value all friendships and their unique characteristics individually.

Be aware that close friendships can take time as you get to know and trust each other, so avoid rushing into intimate friendships by sharing too quickly or expecting others to do soRelax and go with the flow.

Develop yourself. Think of yourself as a total person. Don’t neglect yourself because your loneliness is taking over. Ensure you follow good nutrition regimes, healthy regular exercise and get adequate sleep. Use your alone time to get to know yourself. Think of it as an opportunity to develop and learn.
Don’t decide ahead of time how you are going to feel about an activity. Keep an open mind.

Never define yourself as a lonely person. No matter how bad you feel loneliness will diminish or even disappear when you focus attention and energy on needs you can currently meet and when you learn to develop new ways to meet your other needs. Don’t wait for your feelings to get you going – get going and good feelings will eventually catch you up.

With Thanks to The University of Cambridge, USA