feeling lonely

What to Do When You Are Feeling Lonely

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” – Mother Teresa [Tweet This]

We all go through stretches of life where we are feeling lonely. My most extreme example of this came when I went off to college. I had a close set of friends growing up and was used to not needing to make new ones. When I found myself at college without my support base, I was intimidated and withdrew into my shell. I felt like a fish out of water and was lost as to how to proceed. That freshmen year was one of my toughest in life.

Have you experienced, or are you in, one of those times? It’s not something we talk about much. We feel like others will think we are weak if we admit how we are feeling. So we say, “we’re doing alright”, or “everything is great”, and the truth remains concealed from those who might otherwise help. Physical effects begin to show up like excessive daydreaming, loss of focus and drive and disrupted sleep habits. Left to fester, loneliness can turn into depression and lower the long-term quality of our lives. There are ways to combat loneliness and rebuild self-confidence and joy. Here are four ways to break free from loneliness.

Know You’re Not Alone

It’s important to understand that so many others feel just like you. Too often in these moments we become overly self-critical starting to believe we are unworthy. We become uncomfortable in our own skin. It’s a good time to work on self-improvement and things we could do better, but it’s more important to focus on what we already do well. Beating ourselves up irrationally will only make the problem worse. Focus on the positive aspects of your life, such as being a loving dad.

Initiate with People

When loneliness starts eroding our self-confidence, it’s easy to start isolating from others. Bad idea. It only opens the door for depression to bloom. Keep initiating with people. Devote yourself to serving and impacting the lives of others. Attend small groups at church or a local organization. Be proactive in putting yourself out there.

Try Something New

Being willing and open to new things brings rejuvenating experiences, hope, and people into our lives. Perhaps enroll in a class like photography or culinary arts. Maybe join a sports league like bowling or softball. The idea is to engage new interactions that will create chances for new relationships to develop. Start saying yes when you used to say no when opportunities come your way.

Go Where the People Are

Accept that invite to dinner. Visit family you haven’t seen in a long time. Connect on social media to both new and old friends. But if you are married make sure your wife knows everything and is okay with who you are connecting with. Take a walk in a crowded area and breathe in life. Go to where the people are.

Sound Off

Do you have some ideas to offer on what to do when you are lonely?

  • CJ

    This really hits home with me right now. Going through a devastating time in my life where my wife and I are very disconnected, we sold our home of 10-plus years, left our local church we were heavily involved with of 9-plus years (with barely anyone remaining in contact with us because of the circumstances of how we left), our friends have drifted away from us, we have not been able to really find and/or plug into a new church, not sure if we are going to move from the area (due to the situation that caused us to leave our church along with our two oldest being in college on the other side of the country from us).

    So I have been really struggling and battling isolation. It is easy to become isolated, especially when you don’t have friendships with co-workers whom you spend the majority of your week, you don’t have connections at church because it is new and it is hard to get plugged in, your old friends have their own families and lives and — above all — you don’t have any sort of intimate relationship with your spouse.

    Really praying to God right now to connect my soul with Him, to give me peace during this time of turmoil, transition and tension. To press my pain into Him and try to understand that His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts and lean into His presence and allow Him to help me through this lonely, devastating time period.

    • Gary Abernathy

      I prayed for your comfort and strength, CJ. I wrote this article for the exact purpose of making it known that those in your situation…are not at all alone. There are millions all across the globe calling for His help. He hears you. Trust. I if I may suggest, read 1 chapter per day each of the NIV translation of both Psalms and Proverbs. In Psalms, you will find David suffering just the same and how he responds. In Proverbs, you are taught the principles of truth and eternal life that will raise you from these ashes. Billy Graham used to say, “Psalms is where we are taught how to get along with God. Proverbs is where we learn how to get along in the world.” He’s right. Seek shelter in his word. You will emerge renewed.

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