The Loneliness Cycle

Experiencing the feeling is loneliness is a part of life, but chronic loneliness sucks and has all sorts of negative impacts on health and wellbeing.

Breaking free of chronic loneliness is made more difficult because the coping mechanisms, the physiological response, and the stigma just make things worse.

To stop being lonely you need to interrupt the loneliness cycle. The following often contribute to the cycle.

Numbing

Loneliness often leads to numbing behaviours, where individuals emotionally check out through things like binge-watching Netflix, overeating, or overworking. Ironically, these numbing tactics only make the feelings of isolation worse.

Trying to “Belong”

To fill the void, some people seek belonging and validation through group identity. It might feel good as a band-aid solution but this isn’t real connection that loneliness craves. Furthermore, it can create an “us vs. them” dynamic which deepens the cycle of loneliness because it reinforces a sense of separation and exclusion.

Taking the Well-Meaning Advice

Common advice to stop being lonely often centers on being around people or starting a hobby. However, these suggestions can backfire because you can’t just throw someone into a tub of people with the instructions to befriend and connect, and feeling lonely when in the company of others just makes it worse.

The Physiological Response:

Loneliness takes a toll on the nervous system, particularly the autonomic nervous system. It’s linked to increased sympathetic activity (fight or flight response) and decreased parasympathetic activity, making it difficult to transition into a calm and relaxed state. It’s impossible to feel connected when the sympathetic part of the nervous system is activated.

The Stigma of Loneliness:

How messed up is it that society has normalized people talking about wanting to find someone to have sex with but it’s rare to talk about wanting more or deeper friendships? The stigma can lead to shame about feeling lonely which makes it harder to take actions to stop feeling lonely.

Stop Being Lonely Step 1: Connect to Yourself

How to stop being lonely starts with connecting to yourself. I know, it sounds so cliché ...in a society that often emphasizes external connections, the key to breaking the lonely cycle lies within. But it’s true.

Connecting to yourself involves an ongoing and dynamic process of understanding and nurturing yourself as a whole. It means achieving alignment, where thoughts, emotions, and actions are in sync, fostering a sense of balance.

How to Connect to Yourself:

To build your connection to yourself and break the lonely cycle, you have to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. You can learn to do this intentionally, and it can even become something you habitualize. It can be activated by generating feelings such as curiosity, imagination, hope, openness, and engagement. Try the following:

  • Be curious and build your awareness and acceptance, of your thoughts, emotions, and actions
  • Focus on what you can control, beginning with your thoughts about yourself, others, and your circumstances
  • Figure out what elicits curiosity and desire, and set the GPS in that direction and do stuff
  • Think big picture and long term as well as the day-to-day
  • Replace self-judgment with self-compassion and stop being an a$$hole to yourself
  • Be a f*ck&ing delight: Do stuff for other people without any expectation of reciprocity
  • Practice gratitude and make it a habit (NOTE: the practice only works if you FEEL the gratitude)
  • Prioritize the feeling of fun, this is a huge one for connection and it can be small moments of fun, you don’t have to commit multiple hours to some activity #science

What Happens When You Are Connected to Yourself

When you are connected to yourself, you’ll find it easier to connect with others. Not only will you find yourself having moments of connection with people you don’t know well, but it will pave the way for deeper more meaningful relationships.

When you’re connected to yourself you will have greater resilience, increased empathy toward others, and clarity. You feel a sense of purpose and direction.

It’s more than getting rid of the loneliness, it’s creating the inner peace and calm that comes from knowing that you are enough, and you can create as much connection in your life as you want.

So What?

You can take this information and store it away in a general fact file, or you can do something. In coaching the magic happens when you apply it to yourself and do something new with it. I can help you by making this easier.

Read more: When You Want to Make More Friends

P.S. Getting started and getting results can happen fast once you decide to commit to yourself.
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