As much as loneliness can have numerous different causes, there are also many different ways of reducing or resolving loneliness. In this section, people reveal where they have found relief from their loneliness.
“I’d say: Don’t feel like that, we all will be there with you.”, says one Indian interviewee in this clip – in which people from very different countries advise to stay positive even if we feel lonely. The loneliness too shall pass. And this thought may make the loneliness at least feel less bad.
We can meet up with people, get more comfortable with solitude, become happy singles, talk about our loneliness to friends etc. etc. etc. and still not get rid of our loneliness. Indeed, although we can try to soothe our loneliness, we should not feel even worse for not being able to control it. Sometimes, we need some help by time and luck. And as long as they make us wait, we can only accept our loneliness – which will seldom make our loneliness vanish, but will often make it feel less bad.
The first time that we encounter loneliness, we may be particularly overwhelmed with this feeling and react to it in ways that do not really help us. But when we have experienced that we have already made it through one, two, or a hundred episodes of loneliness, we may understand our loneliness better. This does not mean that the lonelier we have felt in the past, the less lonely we’ll feel in the future. After all, loneliness is to a large extent (40-50%) genetically influenced: some people are merely more likely to react to life’s challenges with feeling lonely. Nevertheless, we can maybe learn to better understand and deal with our very own loneliness.
“I will be busy, busy, busy, and I will just throw the sense of loneliness to the side.” Living one’s daily life, focusing on daily duties, interacting with colleagues, being out of home and roaming can help not to fall too deep when one feels lonely. They might not resolve the loneliness altogether, but they can sometimes make us feel better – at least temporarily.
Religion, spirituality, God, our faith or belief systems. They may have different names, different content, may even lead to disagreement and conflict about what exactly they should entail. But they can all help us feel that there is a reason for why we are in exactly this situation, that there is someone or something that accompanies us no matter where we go.
It may be obvious: although loneliness and being alone or socially isolated are not the same, changes in our relationships can often help us feel less lonely. A new partnership, better friendships, improved family relationships, an understanding community can make us feel understood and that we have a place in the world.
To talk or not to talk about loneliness? This has become the most extensive video on this website because opinions strongly differ. Most people say that it is essential to talk about one’s loneliness – with selected people or “anyone – even a stranger”. Others point out that loneliness is stigmatized and not commonly talked about in their cultures, that others would not know how to handle it if someone admitted to feel lonely, or that they just prefer to talk about other things than their loneliness. Still, “talking about it is the better thing to do. Otherwise, no one will notice.”, says one Indian interviewee. You choose which advice you follow.
“You have to trust to be trusted. You can’t receive something if you don’t give.”, says one participant in this video. A short video about opening up to others, about balancing either side’s needs and wishes, and about protecting oneself from giving too much.
“In one way or another, helping others helps us more than those whom we help.” As beautifully put by one Egyptian interviewee, listening to others, sharing our experiences or possessions, or providing support and advice can create an atmosphere where everyone involved feels less lonely – and not only those who receive support.
We can feel lonely because we lack people in our lives, but we often rather feel lonely because we lack the right people or because we try to keep too many not-too-close relationships in our lives. Put differently, we feel lonely because we have let our social networks grow wild. “Until I started practicing relationship hygiene…”, says one interviewee and thereby provides this clip with its very fitting title.
Unlike some participants, I am hesitant to advise to start a family just to feel less lonely. After all, as we learn from videos about causes of loneliness, our early family environments can very much influence how lonely we feel as children as well as later in life. Nevertheless, as interviewees in this video explain, having own children can make some of us experience unconditional love for the first time, or better understand how much love they may have been embedded in when they were small.
Sometimes, the fear of being alone makes us desperately seek social interaction and easily feel that it is not enough. This can also make us particularly sensitive to relationship disharmonies and problems because they indicate that others might leave us behind – a disastrous perspective in our heads. However, although only few people like to be alone for a long time, daring to be alone may sometimes show us that we can also be surprisingly fine when alone.
“When you do something that you like and it has all your attention, you can’t really be lonely.”, is the experience that one participant shares in this video. Indeed, doing what we like can distract us from our loneliness or even quiet it altogether – because we are enjoying ourselves too much to feel lonely, because we find the purpose for our existence that we previously sought in other people, because we find people we like through our shared interests.
Running, painting, hiking, gardening, pottery, writing… This video has become very long. Why? Because there are so many things that we can do to feel better when we are lonely – no matter whether we have others to do them with or not.
Solitude against loneliness? This may sound weird to all those who still believe that being alone and feeling alone are the same. However, solitude (that is, being alone) and loneliness seem to have an ambiguous relationship: solitude can make lonely, but solitude can also help us feel less lonely. When we feel lonely because we are overwhelmed with a problem, when we need to process some major event in our lives, or when we feel lonely no matter around whom we meet, we sometimes need to spend some time in our own company. To heal, to figure out what is actually wrong or what we need to do, to realize that we are fine even when we are just with ourselves. And to be in a position to have rewarding interactions with other people again – if and when we choose to do so.
Feelings of loneliness usually have to do with relationships, but not necessarily with relationships with other people. Loneliness can also flow from our relationship with ourselves. As such, loneliness can at times remind us that we need to spend time, get more familiar, or more comfortable with ourselves again. That we need to (re-)discover our sense of purpose and reconsider our position in the world.