A quick guide to transforming negative thoughts about loneliness to positive ones
Everybody feels lonely from time to time, and though it’s a normal feeling to have, many people fear the moments of loneliness and start thinking negative thoughts.
You can be alone and not feel lonely; yet when you are lonely, this can be even in the middle of a group of people. The difference between the two, according to thoughtcatalog is that being lonely refers to a state of mind, whereas being alone refers to a state of being.
When you are alone this is often a personal choice; you didn’t want to be in a relationship, you took time off from social activities, or for one day or a specific time you decided to be all by yourself. It could be of course that circumstances led you to be by yourself, but you don’t experience it as a negative, hurtful state. Not being surrounded by others, either by choice or circumstances, may actually feel like an opportunity. Maybe you even like being by yourself, so that you can do things you enjoy. Perhaps being alone is a time to regroup, think about your values, your desires, what you want from a partner or friend. It may be time to meditate or engage in a hobby.
Here are some thoughts people I worked with have shared
“My kids left for college. I am alone for a good part of the day, yet I don’t feel lonely. I have my gardening, my music, and my books. I get to see my friends every week, and it feels good, it’s a different phase of my life, quieter, with more time for reflection, more ‘me’ time.” Fran, Portland, Maine.
“When I feel lonely I start doubting myself, my decisions, my lifestyle. Then I get stuck and don’t seem able to write a single line- I just stare at my computer screen thinking unhappy thoughts.” Don, Charlotte, North Carolina.
“The times I happen to be sitting at home by myself are angry times. I think that I am the only lonely person in the world, which of course I know is not true, but at these moments it sounds so true, and then I have this feeling of hopelessness- everybody is connected, who could I ever meet to expand my social circle. Any ideas on how to train my mind to think differently?” Erica, Manhattan Beach, CA.
Put the Breaks on Negative Thoughts About Loneliness
Scientific evidence clearly shows that negative thinking leads to negative emotions which in turn lead to unhealthy or unproductive behaviors. So, are there ‘good thoughts’ you can think when you feel lonely? Is there a way to reframe your situation and replace the negative thoughts with more realistic ones? Well, yes, and below are some ideas.
1. Self-appreciation. I value myself for who I am, accepting my strengths and weaknesses. I do not label myself in negative ways and choose to see my strengths.
2. There are people like me out there who share the same interests- I just haven’t met them yet. This is a simple truth people tend to overlook when they are busy generating negative thoughts about their loneliness. The only caveat is that one needs to take some action to meet those people.
3. Loneliness is a chance to take action. Sometimes perceived difficulties are blessings in disguise. You can see feeling lonely as a gentle reminder that you need to do something different and make certain changes in your life.
4. Most people have felt lonely at some point in their lives. And this is normal. Being surrounded by people is often promoted as ‘the way to be.’ Yet this is not a standard. There are different ways of being and being lonely is one of these ways.
5. Loneliness offers me the opportunity to feel grateful for all there is in my life. The habit of focusing on the negative deprives us of the opportunity to see what’s going well in our lives. Just take a breath and count your blessings.
6. I love myself the way I am. Such a simple thing to do, yet so elusive! Remember to love, embrace, honor, and respect yourself.