Feeling Alone: Isolation and Loneliness article (Source: Psychalive.org)

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Feeling Alone: Isolation and Loneliness

How to Cope with with Feeling Alone

  • Feeling lonely can trigger voices that we are unloved or unlikeable.
  • This is the internaal self-critic – it can be lacerating and hostile and unfriendly
  • Treat these voices like they were coming from an external enemy, and do not tolerate them.
  • Label and let them go rather than “buying into the story”:
    • Are there ways you act that are based on what your voices tell you?
    • For example, do you attack yourself for being “awkward” or “creepy” and then act quiet in a group of people?
    • Then does your voice turn around and criticize you for acting that way?
  • When you challenge your voices, don’t be surprised if they temporarily become stronger.
  • Remember that if you are persistent in countering your attacks, they will ultimately become weaker and even go away altogether.  You may still hear them,but they will feel less intimidating and have less power over you.
  • When it feelings of comes to isolation, the internal critic can be an especially complicated and strategic enemy.
  • Sometimes, it will lure us into being alone with comforting-seeming thoughts (“Just go home and spend some time by yourself. You enjoy being on your own.”).
  • At other times, when we start feeling alone, it will viciously attack us (“No one wants you around. They don’t like you. Just stay away from everyone!”)
  • These cruel directives are not based on reality but on the agenda of a self-destructive point of view we’ve taken on based on early life experiences. Think about how much of your negative feelings about yourself came from how you felt as kid?  Did you often feel isolated or rejected, unseen or misunderstood? Did you spend time on your own, feeling alone in your family or at school?

Overcoming Feelings of Isolation

  • No matter what their source, voices that you are unlikeable are much harder to accept when you’re around people who like you.
  • When we hear these attacks,  it is vital that we do not allow them to manipulate our behavior.
  • Acknowledge your feelings of loneliness and isolation without judgment [note the principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy here], saying to yourself “I feel isolated right now, so I am not going to give in to my critical inner voice.”
  • Make your actions meet your words and don’t put yourself in an isolated situation.
  • Society can breed a lot of  loneliness. Feelings of isolation are extremely common.
  • One of the best actions we can take to counteract the hopelessness we may feel is to think outside of ourselves. Volunteering is a great exercise in thinking outside yourself and often gives you the opportunity to connect with new people. Even little acts of generosity can have a significant impact. Generosity, as a principle, can lead to stronger self-esteem, which then leads to more social behavior.
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