How do you help someone who comes and presents with loneliness as their major problem? Loneliness is crippling. The human soul being what it is, needs connection – like a plant needs air, light and water. Plants don’t thrive when any of these are not present and in similar fashion, a human soul does not thrive without contact.
As a good therapist, you sit and listen, you validate that yes indeed, this is a difficult passage – but what should someone do? My goal should be to help you find the tools to overcome what you’re struggling with, develop the skills you need to make the connections you need to help you thrive.
Sounds easy doesn’t it? I know it’s not. Loneliness, probably a twin of depression, is debilitating. Left on our own, our brain has a way of beginning to churn and develop beliefs that are poisonous. A weight sets in that makes one lethargic, we begin to cave inward, and after not too long a while we even push away those that attempt to make contact with us, even though what is left of our rational brain yells inside not to do so. Some of us probably drink more, eat more, watch more TV or spend more time on our mind numbing computers in order to alleviate the loneliness. Some become promiscuous, dangerous, abuse themselves, some of us shop and spend, some of us sleep, all in a bid to cope with loneliness.
The hard truth is the only anecdote to loneliness is in fact connection. The only way I know of to make that happen is to have the faith in yourself that you can handle what the world has to offer you – and then, contrary to how your lethargic, heavy, sad body feels – GO OUT AND CONNECT. Join an exercise, dance, yoga, or art class. Volunteer. Every single old age residence looks for volunteers as their “clients” are people who rarely get out of their own room on any given day – they CAN’T – and while you may feel like you “can’t” either – I would argue that your “can’t” is more of a choice than theirs. Other volunteer ideas include Big Brother and Big Sister organizations, hospitals, food banks … the list really is limitless.
Sometimes we believe that the weight, resistance, lethargic part of ourselves is “proof” that we are not yet ready to get out there. Sometimes we use that weight as proof that no one would want to connect with this heavy energy we carry around. A big part of the antidote is believing you’re worth connecting with regardless of how you “feel”. Believing you have something important to offer someone, something of value, is the first step - and you do, we all do. That’s the beauty of being a human being. We all have something to offer that is of value to those we offer it too. Now go… find that connection. You’re worth it.