I stood in front of my dorm, waving goodbye to my parents. They drove off and there I was, on my own. I walked back to my room and was relieved my roommate wasn’t there. I lay on my bed, put my pillow over my face, and cried for the next 10 minutes. Meanwhile, my high school friends were at their colleges, hours away, enjoying their new environments, the new people, and their newfound freedom. I was feeling alone and the fact that no one else felt that way made it worse.
Sometimes loneliness is circumstantial. We’re in a new place where we don’t know anyone or our relationships change or we’re just having trouble connecting. But there are other times when we make decisions that bring loneliness or make it worse. Here are 5 things that invite loneliness.
Feeling alone can make us insecure, depressed, and lethargic. The temptation can be to shut down and isolate ourselves, but this will only further our loneliness. While initiating with people takes energy and involves risk, it’s what we need to do when we’re experiencing loneliness. When we are lonely, we need connection and we can’t expect it to happen if we isolate. Take at least one step to connect every day.
2. Believing Lies
This can work two ways: believing lies about ourselves and believing lies about others. When we believe lies about ourselves, such as thinking we lack value, we tend to think no one will accept us. So we move away from relationships as a way to protect ourselves, but the result is more loneliness. The flip side is we believe lies about others, thinking the worst of them. It can make us prejudiced and paranoid, causing us to disconnect from people.
3. Unhealthy Distractions
Feeling lonely can often feel like being stuck in an escape room of pain. It’s difficult to figure out how to get out of there. It’s much easier to numb the pain or distract ourselves from it. Getting drunk or high may numb the pain temporarily and porn might give us a momentary thrill, but at best, in the end, we are left with our loneliness. And most likely, the emptiness will be even deeper. Even bingeing a bunch of TV shows only delays the inevitable.
One of the biggest contributors to connection is vulnerability. Having the courage to be vulnerable allows us to be known by others. But it does come with risks. Our vulnerability can be used against us to inflict hurt, but it also comes with the reward of deeper friendships and connection. Fear will keep us bottled up, defensive, and withdrawn. We have to be wise in discerning who to be vulnerable with, but we need to make sure we aren’t motivated by fear.
5. Disconnecting From God
I believe we were created by God and for Him. We were designed to be in a relationship with Him. When we are connected to the One who created us, we are filled with life, purpose, clarity of thought, and joy. Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” When we separate from God, all of those things, at least at a deeper level, disappear. Connecting with God is a great place to start when we’re lonely.
Share with her: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: How to Deal With Loneliness.
Sound off: What are some other things we do that make it worse when we’re feeling alone?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Have you ever felt lonely? What helps make it better?”