It is important to know the difference, because when we don’t know we are feeling lonely, then we usually do all kinds of things to cover it up.
You may be eating too much, sleeping too much, a couch potato, drinking etc. If you currently have an unhealthy habit, then see if you can identify the feeling that goes with it.
Quite often it can appear as boredom and this usually happens when we are alone and bored with our own company. If it is just boredom, then its fairly easy to fix by just going out and doing something, or calling a friend to go out with.
However, if we are also feeling lonely, then we usually find something unhealthy to do – another snack, more TV, a stiff drink. If we continue to go on living like this, then things usually get worse and there is no way you will actualize your potential.
So what is the solution? Its not just as simple as going out with friends every night. Again, this is often just a cover up for trying to avoid that lonely feeling. Yes, its quite possible to feel lonely, even if you are married, or sometimes when you are out with friends. You can feel lonely when you are alone or in the company of others.
The only way out of loneliness is to sink into it and go back to its source. Quite often, we may be missing a past relationship or friendship, perhaps because of death or divorce.
The first step is to accept that that person is no longer physically in our life. (Instead of wishing they were still here).
After you have gone through a period of grieving, find a way to celebrate that relationship and bring closure- write a letter thanking the person for everything and end the letter by saying goodbye. Then have a special ceremony and invite a close friend to witness you reading the letter and then burning it.
Take lots of Kleenex, it’s so important to cry – the tears are part of letting go. This does not mean you will ever forget that person – it just means you are getting ready to move forward in your life.
The next step is to find healthy activities or new friendships that will gradually replace that feeling of missing a person ( or a pet or anything that was really important to you). Make a list of the things that you can do – going for a walk being one activity that is always available. Joining a new social group would be another.
Finally, when you are alone, see whether you are feeling OK. If you still feel lonely, then call a friend and tell them about it. The worst thing to do is to be alone all the time when you feel lonely.
The fresher the loss is, the more we are going to miss the person. So just allow all you feelings and tears to flow, as this is a natural part of grieving.
Let your friends support you through this period and as your feelings become less painful, start your life over again and follow this action plan.
Loneliness is also often connected with the feeling of failure. Especially if you are divorced or have been fired from a job. Feeling like a failure can also come from having negative parents or teachers as a child.
Again the only way out is to go through your previous experience and see what part you played in all of it. If you made mistakes, then this is the time to learn the lesson, so that you won’t repeat them. Life is about making mistakes, not about being perfect! The only way to achieve your potential is to start seeing failures as mistakes and an opportunity to learn and grow
Listen to the excellent Ted talk by Guy Winch “The case for emotional hygene”