How to Deal with Loneliness
People want other people in their lives, we need human contact. There is no need to wait for others to approach us.
It is a mistake to think that our achievements and career are our most valuable resources. The most valuable resources available to us are other people. As humans, we are naturally gregarious and we need the company of fellow beings.
This has been established time and again by philosophers, neuroscientists, anthropologists, psychologists, etc. Consequently, even though one may choose to live alone, it is wise to follow a few steps. Just as living with a partner is not easy, living with oneself is not always easy either.
1. Establishing strong bonds with others
Even if we may have decided to live alone for a while, more often than not, we need a strong support system to accompany us. Our friends, family, colleagues, etc. Are all essential to our emotional wellbeing. When for some reason this support system is unavailable, depression and it’s many derivatives start to make a home in our psyche.
To establish strong bonds with others, we must develop openness. If one is not an extrovert, there is no need to go talk to everyone we see. But it is wise to remain open and nurture genuine interest in others. Meeting people fully – when we do. Being authentic and never presenting ourselves as perfect or as people pleasers, being ourselves. Making an effort to understand others. Developing empathy, genuine interest, openness and curiosity towards others and their stories. These are the actions that will helps us establish strong and esteemed bonds.
2. Learning how to approach others
People want other people in their lives, we need human contact. There is no need to wait for others to approach us. Starting conversations with people who interest us, listening to their stories and telling our own is normal. The fear of starting a conversation with a stranger is in our head – it is imaginary.
We must go through life with an intent, about how we are going to meet life and how we are going to meet people. How we engage with people will directly affect how life engages with us.
3. Becoming Selfless
We must always try to help others when they need us. There are so many opportunities to be selfless in a day, which when done rightly gives more joy to the soul than the best entertainment which lasts a few hours and only leaves boredom behind. Selfless actions make for heart-warming memories and the desire to do more. They cultivate empathy, compassion and gratitude.
Selflessness is the biggest attractor of love and friendship. However, it is essential to remain humble and light hearted yet full of spark and depth.
4. Always keep learning
Learning keeps the brain supple. Committing ourselves to ongoing learning; signing up for courses that awaken curiosity and interest in us will help us develop new traits. Apart from learning new things, we get to meet like-minded people.
5. Receiving both praise and criticism with grace
Taking praise and criticism with grace and using them effectively can do wonders for us. Through praise we can recognise our strengths – some that we may have been unaware of. We are often harsh on ourselves and refuse to acknowledge our own qualities. Criticism must be used constructively, never letting it get us down.
Similarly, it is important to analyse our own weaknesses and decide if there was truth to what our critic said. There may be none. If it’s just vengeful empty venom, it is best to throw it out of the mind, and never think about it again. However, if we think there is any truth to it, we must receive the opportunity to strengthen core weaknesses with grace.
6. Practicing Maitreyi – Friendship for all
The practice of Maitreyi or friendship for all is an important spiritual practice which leads to a life filled with peace and satisfaction. Just as the river flows gracefully along, offering its water to all, as the tree preserves its branches by offering its fruit, we too must develop friendliness towards all. Friendship is conditioned to another person, but friendliness is unconditional.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says:
“Adweshta sarva bhutaanaam maitra karuna evacha”
“Don't have dwesha (animosity) towards anything or anybody, but have maitreyi (friendliness) towards all beings.”
7. Truly connecting to others
Truly engaging with others is to connect to the happiness and the pain of others, and offering ourselves the exact same opportunities. We mustn’t run from our own joys and pains or those of others. Connecting with them, acknowledging them and being quick in getting rid of all that weighs us down is the path towards joy.
8. Developing the right kind of relationships
Spending time and energy on toxic relationships is literally wasting both time and energy. However much we might want to help a certain person they may not be ready for it – this is something we have to learn to accept and move on.
Likewise, the company we choose to keep shapes our mind. Associating with individuals which don’t share our values will only tarnish our life.
9. Getting our priorities straight
Learning how to prioritise is key. There are things that make our heart dance with joy and they may not be the things we think we need.
It may be time to simplify life. Marketing gurus may tell us we need an innumerable number of things to have a meaningful life. While different experiences can create moments of joy and satisfaction they may be short lived, only leaving us hankering for more. These experiences, are robbing us of our very life energy – Prana.
We must learn to analyse and to discriminate between what we really need and all that’s superfluous.
10. Becoming the witness
Observing ourselves as well as others without judgement makes life joyful. The cultivation of self-awareness comes through meditation. Becoming aware of ourselves brings us greater awareness of others. In a short time, this level of awareness helps us manage our own emotions effectively.