Coping with Loneliness – 4 Lessons My Loneliest Day Taught Me | Podcast Ep. #22
If you’re coping with loneliness, I know exactly how that feels.
I’ve been in that place myself.
Here’s a story of my loneliest day and how I got myself out of it.
And if you do what I did, so will you.
You are welcome to listen to it as an audio as well:
The day coping with loneliness seemed impossible
In summer 2002, I was 19 and went to work in Alaska, US.
It was my first time going away from home for such a long time.
I also fell in love right before leaving.
That was the first time when I liked a girl and she liked me back.
So I left my parents, my friends, and my potential girlfriend behind.
When my plane landed in Anchorage, Alaska, it was late at night.
My employer’s office where I was supposed to go was closed.
I didn’t know where to go to and spent the night at the airport.
The next morning loneliness hit me hard.
- I was tired after a sleepless night.
- I was uncertain about where I will work or live.
- I was hungry and didn’t know how I would eat because I had almost no money.
- And I was in pain because I missed my parents and that girl.
I felt extremely lonely the entire day even though I was traveling with a friend!
When the night came, I felt so down that I thought I wouldn’t wake up the next morning.
- But I already felt better in the morning.
- In three days, I felt way better.
- And in a week, I felt no loneliness at all.
What’s the lesson here?
Tip #1: Wait till morning
My lowest point in Anchorage was at night.
There are biological reasons for that.
We have more energy in the morning.
But as we deplete it during the day, negative feelings such as loneliness may set in.
At night I thought: “I’m sad and lonely.”
But when the morning came, I saw the sun and felt a little bit less lonely, stronger and more hopeful.
So whenever I feel lonely or down at night, I use this reframe:
The night is darkest before the dawn.
Tip #2: Get more certainty
One thing that increased my loneliness was how uncertain I felt.
I arrived in Anchorage with no plan at all.
- All I had was a job offer.
- I didn’t know where I would live.
- Nor what I was going to eat.
- And I was in a new country with a different language.
I thought I would starve to death and be homeless.
This anxiety made my loneliness worse.
But it all worked out perfect!
My employer provided great accommodation.
And excellent meals.
Those two things gave me certainty immediately.
And I felt better overall and less lonely.
Tip #3: Be patient while coping with loneliness
I felt loneliness, but I was patient about it.
I didn’t fight it but accepted it.
And with each new day, I felt less lonely.
Just a little bit, but it was progress anyway.
I think it’s part of our survival mechanism.
As humans, we have this beautiful ability to adapt to whatever we have in life right now.
It’s called hedonic adaptation.
So whenever I feel lonely now, I say to myself:
With each new day, I feel a little bit better.
Tip #4: Other people didn’t make me less lonely but my thinking did
Now, what was my most important lesson?
Even though I was traveling with a friend, I still felt lonely.
It wasn’t a matter of not having someone to talk to.
It was a matter of my choosing to feel depressed and lonely because of all those problems.
Instead of seeing the abundance of nature, new people, and work opportunities, I focused on scarcity.
I wanted my loved ones!
With that kind of scarcity mindset, I could feel alone in the crowd.
But then I started to focus on my work, new experiences, meeting new people.
And my loneliness was gone in just one week.
Again, it’s not about circumstances but what I choose to focus on.
When I chose a different focus, everything changed.
Actionable tip for coping with loneliness
Apply these four tips to feel better when you’re lonely.
Most importantly, remember that other people don’t make us less lonely.
But what we focus on does.
Break through your barriers
If you need help combating loneliness, talk to me about life coaching.
Here’s a link for you to contact me: book a free coaching session.