**OH SNAP! First and foremost if you think this post is about how important it is to be strong spending Valentine’s Day alone or how society is twisting Valentine’s Day, well you’re wrong. Partly. I am here to set some things straight, but most (and I can’t stress this enough) MOST importantly I am here to help you combat feelings of loneliness around this time of year and support you regardless of your feelings of Valentine’s Day. My point is if you feel lonely- your feelings are valid and we are going to do something about that because no one, no one should feel lonely especially because of a holiday.
I AM HERE TO help you work through those feelings of loneliness, some people love Valentine’s Day some people hate it, everyone has different beliefs and opinions of the Holiday-this post is for anyone and everyone regardless of those beliefs and opinions. Point blank.**
I have been single for over five years. I have spent more time, in my life, being single more than I have been in a relationship.
And 100% of the time of my single life, I get asked the same ol’ questions…
Don’t you get lonely? Don’t you hate being alone, doing things alone?
Even when you are in a relationship or potential for one you still get asked questions like, “are you and your SO (significant other) going to get married and have kids? When are you going to? What are you guys doing for Valentine’s Day?
People have that beautiful touch of making you feel like a sad, lonely, borderline pathetic individual in desperate need of a partner….no matter how strong of a person you are, heck you don’t even want a relationship right now and yet you find yourself wondering what’s wrong with you? Why are you alone?
While I’d love, LOVE, to adopt Gibb’s (NCIS)’s solution for these moments by giving people a good ol’ smack on the back of the head to hopefully knock some sense into them- oddly, it’s frowned upon in every inch of this world. So the next best thing, write a blog post! That’s what everybody does right?!
I want you to know, if you ever find yourself feeling like crap after people inappropriately, and quite rudely, comment on the status of your life- you are not alone. If you feel frustrated about being single or frustrated with the fact that everyone is obsessed with relationships- you are not alone. If you are not even phased by your relationship status until Valentine’s Day comes around- you are not alone.
What matters most is that you don’t want to feel the way you do. Today, on the blog, we are sharing our seven tips to help you *overcome* feelings of loneliness and truly enjoy the beautiful holiday of Valentine’s Day in your own and happy way.
But first, are you really lonely?
I always love to start off with what Sophia Amoruso calls a mind fuck* excuse expression. What I mean by that is sometimes we just need a good reality kick to knock some truth right back into us.
So I ask you, are you really lonely? Or are you lonely because the world tells you are? The world, especially on Valentine’s Day, is full of couples everywhere and the world is shouting from the rooftops at us saying “relationships equal life’s true purpose.” Essentially, as you may already know, society is telling you that if you aren’t in a relationship, you are lonely. If you aren’t meeting this criteria of x, y, and z…well then, friend, you’re a lonely bish. If you ever read those quizzes in cosmo- then you know exactly what I mean.
By society I don’t just mean the ‘big man’ and the ‘big ol’ media’ I also mean friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, the little old couple that just get’s a bit too nosey.
Sometimes you just need to sit down with yourself and ask yourself, are you really lonely or are you only lonely because the world is telling you that you are. Are you feeling lonely inside, are the feelings actually there, or are you following society’s definition of loneliness and so, therefore, you must be lonely.
If the feelings are genuine and you truly do feel lonely in every inch of your body, then that’s okay. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to you and how you feel. For me, asking myself this question helps me remind me of who I am and allows me to feel more like myself again. When I ask myself am I really lonely? The answer is no. I don’t actually have the feelings of loneliness crawling within me. There’s no lack there. I don’t have any sense or feelings of lack, wanting, boredom, etc.
Finally, if you’re not sure how you are feeling the best way to tell if you are feeling lonely is to ask yourself how does it feel to feel lonely. What physical symptoms do you have, do you feel it in your head or your heart or your gut, dive deep and find those identifiers for yourself. If you can’t find what you’re looking for then maybe there’s nothing to find, meaning you’re trying to find the loneliness you think you feel but there’s no hard evidence. Ask yourself, are you feeling lonely if you can’t place the pieces that coincide with loneliness.
If you are struggling with feelings of loneliness, then we still have some thoughts that we hope support you as you work towards feeling- as Marina Keegan called it- the opposite of loneliness.
Loneliness is a mindset. Change your mind, change your world.
Loneliness is a feeling, something that flows through your entire body, but it is also a mindset. We’ve all heard the famous quote:
“I think everybody gets lonely sometimes. I don’t know if people can ever understand how you can be in a room full of people and [still] be lonely sometimes.”
This hits home for everyone because we’ve all been there. We’ve all been through that moment that even though we are either with our friends or family or a room full of strangers, even our SO’s and still find ourselves feeling lonely. Loneliness isn’t about being surrounded by people or being on your own. It’s about how you feel and how you choose to feel about your environment and your surroundings.
Yes, sometimes loneliness can be caused by being surrounded by the wrong people, but I also think that can be a scapegoat for people to use in order to avoid putting themselves out there or overcoming bigger things that are really going on underneath the surface. The best way I can explain this is to think about two people placed in the same room full of strangers (no I’m not talking about introverts or extroverts) for the sake of this example BOTH people are introverts. Both are uncomfortable and feeling like no one in the room cares about them. However, one with the proper tools and mindset training reminds themselves that they have a choice, they can stand in the corner and hope people come up to them or they can put themselves out there use what they know to overcome their anxieties and fears to work through the conversations and meet people halfway. This person knows that at the end of the night they may walk away not making any new friends, they may have nothing in common with these peoples to cultivate a true connection, but they don’t let that stop them from having a great night even if it’s just for one night to talk to these people, get to know them, learn about their stories, soak in inspiration or hear different perspectives, use this as an opportunity for they, themselves, to grow. They aren’t lonely because they are doing the best they can with what they’ve got to make the most of a night and let that be enough for them, more often than not they will probably create a better night by this choice for themselves and for the other people in the room.
I didn’t say it would be easy to do, but the point is…you CAN make a mindset shift that can change the way you feel and change the outcome of an evening or a day. And please understand the emphasis on the individual learning the tools they need to create a healthier and more positive mindset and environment for themselves.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, let’s say you are spending time with another person whether that be a friend, a family member, or a SO and even though you’ve had a relationship or connection with this person you find yourself feeling lonely even though you’re with them. While, and being completely blunt here, there may be other issues at play here that is a whole other topic that we won’t cover here and I will say this- if that is the case then you likely already know the real issue and what needs to be dealt with there. However, if you want this connection to continue and you know it’s not them- it’s you, hun. You know you’re feeling lonely and they aren’t fulfilling that emptiness you feel even though that’s what you had hoped for. IF you are still having feelings of loneliness even when you are surrounded by someone else, then you know you are the one that has to change.
Loneliness is a mindset and you can choose to let yourself feel misunderstood or un-relatable and push people away or you can engage with them, shift your mind from I am alone to I am blessed to have someone here at this moment with me right now and if I want this time to be special or pleasurable for the both of us then I will make the effort to do so. I have a choice to make right now at this moment, do I let myself sit here and feel lonely or do I find a way to enjoy the pleasure of their company. The choice is mine.
Change your perspective from loneliness to selflessness.
One of the biggest transformations I’ve been through in my life is when I heard this podcast episode with Jess Lively as she interviewed Elizabeth Gilbert. Elizabeth Gilbert talked about her realization that every time she was caught up in her own thoughts, her own securities, her anxieties and fears, and thinking about her life she realized that in those moments -especially when she was with others- she was thinking, speaking, living life and it was all about her, her, her.
When I heard those words my mind grew the size of the universe. She was right. Every time I was caught up in my own insecurities, my own fears, and anxieties, all I was doing was thinking about ME, ME, ME. I made my life all about me, myself, and I. THAT IS NOT HOW I WANT TO LIVE MY LIFE. I am SO SELFISH.
I truly believe I was able to overcome my feelings of loneliness once I realized how much I was living my life all about me, I was being selfish. Once I started to focus less on me and more on others I realized how selfish loneliness can be.
**Forewarning here, this might be a trigger for some of you and might make you feel hurt that because I say you are feeling loneliness you are being selfish. I am not saying that.**
This is just my epiphany and I hope it helps you the way it did for me.
Loneliness can sometimes come from a place of need and want, especially from others, I want their company because I want them to validate me, love me, pay attention to me. At least it was for me. Once I realized how much I was making everything about me, me, me I was able to stop myself, say enough is enough. I changed my perspective, changed my mind and the way I live my life to start thinking more about others and less about myself. I started focusing on others and how I can be there for them, love on them, connect with them. I worked to be a better listener, I wanted people to walk away from me better than when they first came. The more I focused on being a better person for others and being more present for them, it then grew into learning how insignificant my feelings of loneliness really were. I’m not trying to downplay your feelings of loneliness, it is one of those most hurtful feelings humans can feel, but the best way to overcome your fear of the darkness is to shine some light on it and truly see how it’s power and false reality it creates isn’t as daunting as we thought it was. You just need some new perspectives.
A perspective of selflessness is what I needed to diminish my feelings of loneliness.
In the moments I spend with others, I’m not thinking about myself and how I feel or if I am lonely, I am focused on them, I’m thinking about how I can be there for them, how amazing they are that I wish they could see what I see, how much I appreciate the things we do connect over. I let the positivity of selflessness into my life and create stronger and more genuine connections for me and the people I’m with.
Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, Palentine’s Day, whatever.
I wrote a blog post on 14 love letters I wrote to the world. You can read my 14 love letters here, and the reason I wrote this blog post was to show others that Valentine’s Day isn’t just about a man and a woman loving each other. As I mentioned above, society’s version of Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be yours.
You can celebrate Valentine’s Day, however, the FUCK you want.
No one can say or tell you what or how Valentine’s Day can and should be celebrated. To me Valentine’s Day is a reminder to focus your life more on love, spreading love, loving yourself, and loving on your loved ones the best way you can. It doesn’t have to be full of flowers, chocolate, red, pink, cards, romance. Heck, you don’t even have to celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th and February 14th only. I use February as an opportunity to spread love all month long. I call it the month of love. Some days I spend loving on friends, some on family, some on myself, some on my dog. February and Valentine’s Day is actually one of my favorite times of the year because I make it so.
You can learn more about how you can focus more on love and how to see more love in your life by writing your own set of love letters. Like a gratitude journal, writing love letters reminds you of what’s truly important to you and your life, helps you to see all the little things that you love and are grateful for and to open your mind to different kinds of love and different ways to spread love in your life.
Which leads me to my next tip…
Focus on love and what love does. (love on others)
Once you can strip away the version of love that society taught you and the one you’ve created in your own head- the version that is actually leaving you feeling less than and lonely rather than feeling loved, you can now become a clean slate, an open mind to discover all new forms of love. You can now experience love in new ways and see it with new eyes and discover what love can truly do.
I read a book, Love Does by Bob Goff, that is full of short stories of all the different ways he experienced and learned about love. While this book might be considered a Christian genre per se, I don’t feel it is heavily religious that it takes away from everyone being able to enjoy and learn from it. So regardless of your beliefs I still highly recommend this book and enjoy his short and wonderful stories and learn some examples of the different kinds of love and what love does.
Think about your life and your own little stories and memories of ways you saw, witnessed, experienced love and the way it made an imprint on life (not just yours, but in this world as a whole). Think about how at this moment, today, tomorrow, this weekend you can leave a mark of love in the time you spend with others. You don’t have to plan some crazy romantic getaway- you just have to tap into that little selflessness we talked about- if you have a date with a friend coming up, or you’re about to visit family, or you know someone who’s been going through a tough time…what can you do to send them some love this month?
As long as you set the intention to express love and pour love into others, well, you are sending waves of love into the world. That alone will make others suffer less from loneliness.
In relieving others of loneliness you rid yourself of the impression you are alone. Especially if you keep in mind and work towards my next tip…
Loneliness vs. Isolation.
As Oprah calls them, ‘aha moments’ are my moments of enlightenment and I had one, quite recently actually, when my attention was drawn to two words and their differences.
loneliness vs isolation.
Do you believe there are different types and/or stages of loneliness? Truth be told, in the psychology world, you could probably do plenty of research and dive deep and pick it apart to discover more to loneliness. For me, I think the simple feeling of loneliness is hard enough and it’s hard for everyone. However, I do feel there is more to loneliness than we take the time to understand especially when it comes to ourselves.
When I read those words- “it was no longer suffering from loneliness- it was isolation.” My mind started to ponder and my thoughts were roaming….Does loneliness turn into isolation? Is this isolation caused by ourselves or from others forcing us into this position of isolation?
Loneliness can feel like isolation. Loneliness and isolation can come hand in hand. They are two different feelings and experiences in different situations, BUT taking the time to think about you in your current situation and which one is affecting you most can be GROUNDING.
Are you lonely? Or are you in a current stage of isolation? Whether the isolation you feel is by choice, caused by you, or caused by your environment, being in a stage of isolation is ephemeral. Meaning, once you become aware of the state of isolation you’re in, you can get yourself out of it. Loneliness, as you read through this post, requires more of a mental shift rather than tangible steps of action.
For me, sometimes I just need to ask myself am I in a moment of isolation? A place I can pull myself out of? Other times I need to ask myself am I creating isolation for myself, am I the cause for this feeling of loneliness? As introverts, we do require time to ourselves and more often than not we get wrapped up in our times of me-time that lead us to times of isolation.
Thinking about isolation vs loneliness can create direction to learn about the effects of the two and how you can work towards reducing those times and phases of isolation in the future which will, also, furthermore prevent moments of loneliness as well.
If it makes you happy it can’t be that bad.
One of the biggest life lessons we all have to learn in life is to discover our own true happiness. What makes us happy, what happiness looks and feels like for ourselves free of anyone’s opinions, judgments, definitions, input.
Just like love. You have complete permission to love in your own way. To discover what love looks like for you, feels like for you, and how you share love. Love can be felt, expressed, shared in more than one way. Each person can love and receive love differently.
You’ll know when you find true joy in love when it makes you happy- but only if, and if only, you don’t let other’s place doubt or judgment or opinions in your mind. Don’t let them make you question the way you love or feel love.
If the way love plays into your life makes you happy, it isn’t bad at all.
Like Nicholas Sparks wrote in A Walk to Remember, “love is like the air, you can’t see it, but you can feel it.”
Love is intangible, you can’t physically hold it in your hand- who is to say what love can or can’t be to you. Once you discover love in your own way, there’s nothing more beautiful than that, well, other than sharing that love with the world.
Some people can spend their whole lives not celebrating a single Valentine’s Day. One day a year, they let themselves have just an okay day or a day that makes them feel less than.
That is a choice they make, knowingly or unknowingly.
Or you, right now, can make the conscious decision to make every Valentine’s Day one of those days you look forward to every year, one that is exciting and fills you up with love.
We all know that whether you have a special someone to spend that day with or not, some people have good Valentine’s Day or bad ones, some spent alone some spent surrounded by people.
We all feel lonely sometimes.
Whether you spend the day all by yourself, with a friend, or family, or someone special- you can use these tips to work through those feelings and make healthier mindset shifts to create a better day for yourself and others.
You can turn a day around, start a new way of celebrating a holiday, or even help evolve the way people give and receive love and spend this holiday to make it a positive and loving experience for all.
What the opposite of loneliness is for you to find out.