Loneliness is something most of us have experienced at some point in our life. We feel it in circumstances that are similar or completely different to others, physical or emotional, but essentially, it’s ours and so unique to us.
I don’t position myself as an expert on the subject although I’ve helped my clients address it within their lives on many occasions, and I’ve a broad knowledge of it both professionally and personally. In this instance what I’d like to share is my own personal experience of loneliness in the hope that it might help someone make changes or help another person.
My loneliness was experienced while surrounded by people, both family and friends. It came from my perspective that I was not the same as them, I felt different, like I didn’t fit in. On challenging myself there was no rational reason for the feeling of isolation. I was the same age, gender and had the same lifestyle and beliefs as many people around me. On paper we were the same, but it didn’t feel like it. It was uncomfortable. I felt unaccepted, judged, inferior and of course my responses to these feelings prompted unhelpful behaviours and thoughts, struggling with myself to try to fit in and never actually achieving anything that was helpful or lasting.
It wasn’t until I realised that these negative feelings were actually coming from my perspective of myself rather than being projected onto me by others that I began to accept responsibility and find a path to remove the self-inflicted loneliness from my life. I began my journey to find acceptance for myself as I was, to believe I was a person of worth just the way I was, to know I was someone who was loved and valued, without needing to change. To realise these things has created a space for growth within myself, I’m moving forward with a confidence that’s displaying itself outwardly and inwardly.
In my version of loneliness, I needed to gain an understanding of myself before I could begin the process of healing. Knowledge of what was happening was vital in the first instance, followed by accepting responsibility for change and a commitment to the exploration of my feelings and experiences. An openness to other possible perspectives and being aware of what is real rather than trusting an outdated self-belief that I held, was my personal road to lasting healing.
As I said previously, everyone’s experience is unique to them and mine won’t be exactly the same as yours, but maybe it’s similar in some ways and maybe it will provide enough insight for lasting changes in yours or your client’s life.
Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.