How often do we find ourselves deprived of the feeling of being loved and cared? That we’d end up seek for the attention at the wrong places, eventually making us feel a lot lonelier than before?
I’ve been feeling a wave of loneliness for the past couple of weeks whenever I return to the comfort of my home and realised I’ve only been busying myself with a lot of things. But little did I realise that moving too quickly and overwhelming me with a lot of new ideas, thoughts and experiences are wrecking havoc my capability to receive and process them harmoniously. In the end, I am left alone with my own thoughts, feeling like I need to vent out and channel it out to somewhere.
Maybe what triggers you to feel alone is a loooot different from my own experience. But we all know that heaviness that you can sense in your chest whenever you feel lonely—as if no one understands you and you’d end up being a defensive and a cold person.
How many of us have felt this way before? Instinctively, the first thing that we’d do is to call out to somebody expecting them to solve our problems, vent out perhaps, expecting a lot from them to somehow save you from the pain of being lonely. Maybe you’ve vented out, but still had some things left in your chest that you can’t truly point out why. Maybe there are too many things going through your head that despite it all, no one would understand you completely.
Most of us tackle this at the surface level, because we either are too afraid or we ignore the deep root cause of this feeling. Being an introvert myself, I too have suffered the pain of loneliness but I’ve realised that companionship may be one of the tools to alleviate the pain but the solution to the root cause is a lot deeper than being in company with someone else.
Here are 5 mindset habits that I’ve come to learn on the attempt to actively find a way to change my state of feeling lonely:
1. Self-love. Don’t expect someone else to come and save you from feeling lonely.
This is by far one of the most crucial point. Self-love is an extensive wide topic and I pray that whoever is reading this does not take this too far and literally. I don’t mean you take to the extreme of shutting everyone out and not allowing people to come into your life. Love itself shouldn’t be a burden but should fill ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually.
What I mean by self-love here isn’t necessarily doing things that you love. Sometimes, you need to sacrifice and cut down the things that you love to do in order to fill yourself up. You know what are the things that you need to cut down in order to be healthier mentally, physically and spiritually. Those guilty pleasures? Cut it down. Lessen it.
In any case at all, balance is key.
The next thing is to stop expect somebody, whoever it may be, to save you from the feeling of loneliness. A lot of the times people in the mid 20s or later may have experience loneliness due to being unmarried yet. I understand that it’s not easy but I know that there’s no point in feeling sorry for ourselves for too long. I’ve met a person who got married in the early 20s and yet feel unfulfilled. I’ve met an ustazah who’s 40-50 years of age, unmarried and still soooo enthusiastic with life and a contributing member to the society.
It’s not that I am encouraging you to not get married, but what I am saying is before we jump into a relationship and marriage, be sure to get prepared from different aspects of life without expecting the person to “save you” from whatever healing that you need to do but instead one who would “work with you” so you both can reach a common goal or destination. Interdependent rather than codependent. I am not qualified to say this but I know that choosing is a spouse should not be based on a temporary infatuation or feeling but based on a rational decision.
I’ve learned this from actively following Aiman Azlan’s sharings on FB or YouTube. He’s got one of the best resources when it comes to being prepared for that married life. Go check him out.
2. Reflect back on what you do during alone time. Express yourself.
We are bound to be alone at times regardless of whatever personality that you have—whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. Loneliness comes from the feeling of your voices being unheard.
It’s a weird feeling for me as a introvert when I’d start feeling lonely during my alone time because I looove being alone. I love my own company and I never had a problem until recently… that I start questioning whether I am still an introvert. (I am still by the way considering how I still enjoy doing things and exploring stuff all by myself). I’ve come to realise that I’d start feeling lonely when I can’t express my thoughts when it only takes for me to write or being creative and I’m all good.
For you, it may be different. Some may need to go out to get some fresh air. Some need to exercise. Some need to venture on new food. Whatever it is, do something that makes you feel good whenever you start feeling lonely. It is to actively do something about your state rather than again, relating back to point one, hoping somebody to save you. Being responsible of your own time is yours to take.
It is the realisation that loneliness breeds from being unproductive. Solitude breeds something fruitful. For example, let’s say one experiences loss. One may resort self-destruction habit such as binge watch a Netflix series but we know that the end result of this action may make one feeling even lonelier, guilty and unhealthy. On the other hand, another person may instead choose to use her heartbreak to express herself creatively. The latter produces creativity and she may eventually find her passion and in turn, become a lot happier and empowered than the first person.
Loneliness is unproductive. Solitude is productive.
I’ve learned most of this from Teah when we discussed about loneliness in one of our episodes of podcast.
3. Focus on 4 quarters than 100 pennies
This is by far one of my favourite points, ever! The worth of a quarter (25 cents) is more than 100 pennies (1cent). The numerical worth itself is similar but the quality is different. It’s a lot better to maintain a few close and quality friends rather than focusing on to maintain superficial relationships that eventually make you feel a lot lonelier.
I received an interesting question from IG that asked me “Are you this active in real life?” because I tend to be quite loud in my writings or active in the way I ask questions in social media but I am nowhere near that “talkative”, if you may say, in real life. I remember answering the question somewhere along the line “If we share the same values/goals etc, I’d be engaging, but if not, then I’d be quiet most of the time”
I’m not saying you need to stop searching and meeting new people but instead, downsize your circle of trusted friends to ones who actually help to become a lot more positive and give value to your lives. You need to search what you value most in your life. There is no right or wrong answer to this as you are your own person. What may be valuable to me may not be valuable to you.
So, don’t be afraid to set some boundaries!
I’ve learned this golden point from one of my favourite YouTube vloggers, Rowena Tsai from one of her videos.
4. Stop seeking for attention, but pay attention
Another point that I just needed to share is this. A lot of times when we feel lonely, we have the tendency to seek for attention thinking that it would validate you as a person. Instead, pay attention. When we start paying attention and train ourselves to become a better listener, we will start finding the magic in our everyday lives. We will start thinking less about our problems and hence, feel less lonelier than when we feel like everything revolves around us. You’ll become a better friend, sister, daughter, partner or whatever it is.
I’ve learned this by a humorous Ted Talk of a famous actor, Joseph-Gordon Levitt. I love that he points out when he’s acting, the one thing that he loves most is when he pays attention to how a scene should be because that is when creativity flows the most. This concept is contradicting to what an actor receives the most i.e. attention.
This brings me to the next point when you start paying more attention.
5. Give and you will receive. Help and you will be helped.
I’ve learned this from one of the series in AA Plus by Ustaz Mizi Wahid on the topic of loneliness where he shared a hadith,
Rasulullah (PBUH) said “And whoever helps or makes things easy for those in need, Allah will help him”Sahih Muslim
I LOVE this so much. Notice how when you make someone happy, you’ll also be happy too? Notice how when you help someone, Allah will make things easier for you? Notice when you think good of others, you start attracting well-intended people too?
I remember a day when I felt completely alone in trying to pursue a challenge at work. I was literally alone at that time. I cried because I thought I couldn’t do it so I’d ended up feeling down. But at that time, the only thing that I had left to do was put my trust in Allah and will try my best to do better the next day.
In the midst of me crying while packing up to leave, a faithful friend called me asking me how I was doing and we had the longest conversation about life which I needed at that time. I went to the mosque for Maghrib and came across a bubbly friend whom I’ve missed. Then I ended up the night meeting a group of friends who reminded me of what it’s like to be blessed with genuine friendship who has the common goal to seek His pleasure.
Noticing that I have these people in my life especially at the time when I felt alone was the best gift I could ever receive at that time. The next day, I felt ready to knock the challenge down and Alhamdulillah, through the challenge itself met a number more inspiring, well-intended people.
Sometimes, we’re so caught up with our problems we forget that there are people around us who are willing to help especially those whom have gone through so much with you—those who have seen you cried and break.
This point relates to no. 4. If you start paying attention and help well-intended people, they will help you whenever you need them most. Sometimes, you don’t even have to ask for it but it is Allah who would bring these people into your life.
So, if you could just focus on one of the points above and start practicing one of it, you’re already making an active change to take control of your own emotions!
Resources from above points:
- Aiman Azlan’s free contents FB and YouTube on marriage. Go check him out here
- AAPlus on the topic of lonelinss (but you need to be a member to access to AA Plus)
- Ted Talk by Joseph-Gordon Levitt on attention
- Lifestyle vlogger, Rowena Tsai, on 7 mindset habits that changed her life.
- A Sunday Thing podcast, on loneliness