Guide on wellbeing: loneliness 

We all experience loneliness at some point in life. Why do we experience loneliness and what can be done about the feeling of loneliness?

Experiences of loneliness may lead to the feeling of being isolated from other people and from the world. In the worst-case scenario, loneliness can lead to feeling embarrassed. However, loneliness is a perfectly normal and common human experience that everyone experiences at some point in their life. So it can be interesting to note that this very experience that can feel so isolating actually unites us all. 

Why do we experience loneliness? 

Many completely natural changes in life can lead to the experience of loneliness. Some examples include moving to a different city or country, starting one’s studies in a new group and not immediately finding new friends there, or experiencing that old relationships are fading or changing over time. 

We human beings are social, and if we experience social deprivation, it’s healthy that our feelings motivate us to find people to surround ourselves with. The experience of loneliness is therefore a healthy signal that motivates you to change the circumstances of your life! 

Sometimes we can experience loneliness despite having lots of relationships. In this kind of situation, the issue might be the lack of depth in one’s relationships. 

What can you do about loneliness? 

To start with, it’s important to notice that our relationship to ourselves can have a huge impact on our experiences of loneliness. For this reason, the first thing to do is to cultivate a warm and constructive relationship to yourself. This kind of friendly and warm relationship with oneself creates something of an internal safety net, into which it’s safe to fall in situations where we experience loneliness due to external reasons. 

It is very common that we experience loneliness when we notice that our relationships change as we grow up. If this is the case in your situation, it’s good to notice that even though many of our early relationships start with minimal conscious effort, it’s completely normal to have to put in a bit more work in order to create and maintain relationships as a grown up. 

We can’t fully control our relationships as they always also depend on the other person involved, but it can be useful to take full responsibility for our own roles in the kind of relationships we cultivate in our lives. There are many things that we can do in order to have less reason to feel lonely. For this reason, it’s not worth it to just wait for the experiences of loneliness to disappear on their own. 

Creating new relationships 

If you feel lonely, try to make your life more multi-faceted and do things that interest you! Try doing new things and explore different hobbies! Consider what kind of life would feel deeply meaningful and exciting to you and work actively towards making that a reality, through creating easily achievable and measurable goals. This way, you will automatically come across people who are interested in similar things as you! 

The world is full of people who long for good relationships. In order to create new relationships, all we have to do is to open our mouths and our hearts, again and again, until we have a suitable number of good relationships in our lives. So when you encounter a person who seems interesting to you, it’s an excellent opportunity to practice striking up a conversation. 

It is also helpful to note that social skilfulness and brave behaviour are skills that can be practiced and improved – even significantly. If you identify as an extremely shy person or if you experience such a significant amount of social anxiety that it impedes your relationships, it’s important to look for professional help. 

Deepening relationships 

We all need relationships in which we’re allowed to honestly show our difficult feelings and to get friendly support in experiencing these feelings. If you notice that your current relationships don’t allow for this, you can talk with honesty and warmth about your desire to deepen your relationships in this way or you can look for new relationships where this wish for more depth, realness, and support is mutual. 

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