Experiencing loneliness can be difficult to understand.
Feeling as though something is fundamentally wrong with you.
Maybe it’s difficult to fathom because you have people in your life.
I struggled to understand it for many years. I was feeling something I believed I had no right to and should not be.
The loneliness I felt became more unbearable the older I got. I realised that my children were picking up habits that I had become aware were inhibiting my ability to connect to people around me.
- People pleasing.
- Moulding myself according to values and standards set by others to avoid judgement.
- No boundaries. Other people’s feelings, opinions, needs, and wants were more valuable than my own.
- Extreme paranoia. I could walk into a room in which I knew no one, hear a remark of no relation to me but think that it was somehow about me.
- The inability to speak honestly about my problems. I had a desire to keep up appearances.
- My tendency to people please and inability to place boundaries made me incredibly anxious and so I would choose isolation as my way of managing my boundaries. You can’t people please when you stay away from the world right?
- Overly critical of myself leading to a constant state of over analysing every word that left my mouth leading to extreme anxiety.
- I would swing between trusting people far too much and far too little making a deeper connection all kinds of difficult.
- The inability to express ‘negative’ emotions. Mad, sad, hurt, disappointed, I couldn’t express it. I didn’t want to upset other people, I feared confrontation and I had the belief that negative emotions displayed weakness and weakness had been dangerous as a child.
- Shame and guilt. It’s incredibly difficult to connect authentically when you carry such baggage (which is often not even yours to be burdened with.)
So why do you struggle with loneliness?
Typically it is due to childhood experiences.
When you have basic needs repeatedly going unmet as a child you create a distorted view of yourself, the world, and how others perceive you.
I would like to add here that this does not mean that you must have had a particularly traumatic childhood however in some cases that will be the case. I will give some examples in a moment below however for now I want to make the connection between then and now.
As adults, we seek out or settle with familiar scenarios and experiences.
Seeking predictability is a way to keep you safe, even when the behaviour is not particularly good for you. ‘Better the devil you know’ and all that.
Beliefs that we create as a child can lead to low self-esteem and so we may not feel capable or worthy of any different.
Sometimes it is just all we have ever known thus believing it to be usual.
Back to the experiences that you may have had as a child that would lead to the behaviour and beliefs about yourself that I mentioned above.
- A parent/guardian who was overly controlling, critical, would take over your tasks or do them for you.
- A parent/guardian who was overly concerned with judgement. Who you witnessed pleasing others at the expense of themselves and/or encouraged you to do so.
- A parent/guardian that was disconnected/emotionally unavailable/distracted or not present.
- A parent/guardian who set unhealthy standards.
- A situation in which you had more or less responsibility than reasonable.
- A parent/guardian who did not set boundaries or demonstrated healthy discipline.
These lists aren’t by any means exhaustive but give you a deeper understanding as to why you may struggle to create the deeper connection that you desire with people.
Healing those old wounds, becoming more self-aware, rebuilding self-esteem, correcting negative self-talk, and becoming more compassionate towards and accepting of yourself is key.
Getting to the stage in which you can confidently be yourself, express yourself authentically, place boundaries, and create healthy relationships is imperative to combatting loneliness.
You’re not alone in this.
Here is a quick method of questioning your inner dialogue when you sense that you are holding back from expressing yourself and being your genuine self.
What are the fears behind your thoughts/feelings?
Is it the fear of rejection or abandonment?
Is it the fear of uncertainty?
What is the worst that can happen?
Is it likely?
That worst-case scenario, what story are you telling yourself about what that would mean about you?
Is it a distorted view?
What is the best that could happen?
Below you can watch a full workshop that I created on this very topic.
When I do my weekly card pull in my free group there is always a message regarding intuition and I understand why.
Many of us in the group have learned not to trust our intuition, not to tune into it, not to value it.
I will give you an example. When you experience a domineering parent or an abusive guardian, your sense of ‘we are just as important as anyone else’ and ‘my opinion matters’ is overridden. Low self-esteem is the result.
‘I am not as worthy as others.’ You subconsciously tell yourself.
There are many other circumstances in which you will adopt this belief in childhood.
A belief that you genuinely believe to be true that over time you pass as fact.
You ignore your own internal navigation system time and time again because you have come to believe that you aren’t reliable or trustworthy. Others know better.