Alone: Isolated, separated from others (Merriam- Webster)
Lonely: Sad because one has no friends or company, solitary (Dictionary.com)
So many times I hear people talk about feeling lonely. Feeling like no one understands them. Feeling distraught and depressed. And then there are those that say that they can be in a crowd of people and still feel alone.
What’s the difference?
Lonely is the feeling. Alone defines the physical space.
Either way, it is a state of being that can lead to depression and sadness.
How is it that we can be around a bunch of people yet still feel alone?
Part of it depends on your chemical make up. Some are predisposed to depression and anxiety. If that is so, that is the lens through which you view the world. So no matter how many people are around, no matter how many people genuinely love you and look out for you, you will still feel as though you are alone and end up feeling lonely.
Some depends on your internal dialogue. It is the thoughts and feelings determined by what we tell ourselves. Most of it is negative self- talk steeped in doubt, low self- esteem ,and poor self- image. As a result, you are prone to tune out the positive and the good that is happening in your day or environment and instead focus on what is not going right. Some of the reason for that is because your internal dialogue tells you that you don’t deserve good things happening so it convinces you that all that is happening is the not so good. And that which we put our energy and thought into is that which we see and recognize the most.
Are you really alone?
Chances are, the answer to that is no. There are some people that are seriously alone in this world. No one to call on. They may have burned bridges or never really had the connections to begin with. But even The Grinch wasn’t alone. There was someone checking for him. Even the people that did not like him had him on their radar. He simply chose to make himself a lone island.
Why are you consistently feeling lonely?
You’ll have to look at your internal dialogue for the answer to this.
- It could be that you surround yourself with people who don’t pour into you, but you pour into them, so it leaves you feeling empty.
- It could be because you are doing things that turn people off and don’t allow you do create lasting and healthy relationships with others.
- It could be that your self- doubt rears its head and you end up not being a friend to others, so it makes it hard to connect, trust, and give with others and it affects your interpersonal relationship skills.
- It could be that you have self imposed isolation and then when people don’t readily ask you why you have isolated, or when they simply stop asking you why, you end up feeling alone.
The important thing is to reframe that internal dialogue. That won’t be easy. And depending on how deep rooted the issues are, you may need professional assistance. Don’t be afraid or ashamed if you do.
Fill your time and space with positive things- bright colors, positive people, motivating and uplifting media and literature. You need to get used to thinking positively as your first response. It will feel uncomfortable at first, but it took time to develop all of the negative self talk currently in your internal dialogue. So be patient with yourself and give yourself time and room to make the changes.