8 Empowering Thoughts When Being Single Feels Lonely
Being single can feel lonely at times, and loneliness isn’t always easy to manage.
A first key step to combat feeling lonely is to first take a few deep, slow breaths, resist any urge to panic, so you can turn on your thinking brain. As you well know, life is not a race, and there is always time (even if it feels like there isn’t). Of course it’s more important to get it right then to keep up with your friends. Your anxiety is only doing its job, to get your attention. That’s all.
That said, recognizing, and listening to your anxiety is smart, and exactly what you’re supposed to do. Your worries about your future are important, very real to you, and likely do not signal a larger anxiety problem. Trying to avoid feeling lonely all together isn’t going to help, but changing how you think about your loneliness very much can.
It’s not your worry about your future that’s the problem, it’s likely how you’re thinking about it.
Here are 8 empowering thoughts when being single feels lonely that can help turn your mindset around. A positive mindset can help stave off some of the most common cognitive pitfalls of loneliness.
- Nothing is wrong with me
Even if your life isn’t a carbon copy of your closest friends, this doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. As you grow out of the lockstep milestones of school and into the diverse landscape of adulthood, differences between you and your friends will become more pronounced. Expectations broaden, values become more important, and life gets complicated. No longer are you and your friends doing everything together – far from it, you are keenly aware of being on your own. And this can be nerve wracking. It is normal to be asking yourself if you are on track for what is important to you in life, but this doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you if you are uncomfortable. It means you are normal. Yes, normal.
- There are single people still out there
Sure all your friends might suddenly be in relationships, but that doesn’t mean there are no more single people to hang out with, or meet. It means you haven’t met them yet. The best cure for loneliness is to foster and cultivate more relationships. Remember, relationships do not have to be romantic to be deeply satisfying, and friendships can be good practice for romantic relationships
- Beauty is as beauty does
Attractiveness has more do with self care than with innate physical beauty. Studies show that people are more attracted to happiness and confidence than they are to looks alone. Sure, your looks matter, but what you do with them is infinitely more predictive of relationship success.
It’s easy to fear that you are behind in some life race, and will never catch up to your friends, but nothing can ruin your intrinsic motivation faster than comparing yourself to others. Noted shame expert and swimmer, Brene Brown, highlights the toxicity of social comparison through this common swimming strategy – to stay focused on your race, rather than the people around you. Sure, it’s important to notice what is going on in the world around you – this helps keep you aware – but your friends’ lives really have nothing to do with yours, except in how they reflect what you may want.
- Life is not a race
It also can be particularly important to remember that life is not a race at all, and there is no master time-keeper. Yes, life is finite, as are many outcomes of our choices, but life is also unpredictable, and precious. What matters most to living a satisfying life is finding happiness in the journey, rather than the destination, which leads us to positive thought number 6.
- I need to be happy so I can share my happiness with someone else
Relationships don’t make us happy, they are vehicles for us to share our happiness. It sounds almost cliché, but no one can make you happy but you. If you are looking for someone to make you happy, you aren’t looking for a relationship so much as you are looking for an escape. Not sure what happiness booster makes the most sense for you? No one describes the research behind happiness improvement strategies better than Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of the How of Happiness.
- I can be satisfied with being alone
There is no shame in being alone unless you buy into the myth that there is. People judge you for what you do, and how you behave, not for whether you are alone or accompanied. Instead of focusing on your attachment status, why not focus on your behavior (something you can readily do something about). Are you friendly? Do you engage with people around you, or are you aloof, reserved, or always on your phone? If you want connection, focus on connecting with people.
- It’s ok if I may not want to do what I need to do
There is always something you can do, but that doesn’t mean it’s what you want to do. In fact, we seldom want to do what we need to do, and this in itself can drive up anxiety, making it even harder to get traction. So if taking action scares you, notice this, and adjust your approach. Rather than shoving yourself into new behavior, or backing off completely, try instead to be gentle with yourself without letting yourself off the hook. It’s the old get more bees with honey approach, and it works. If the best outlet for your anxiety is taking smart action towards your goals, sometimes the work is in figuring out how to get yourself to a place where you are willing to start.
Remember, anxiety’s job is to remind you of the things you care about most, and nudge you towards reaching for your goals more effectively. Yes, it does its job the dirty way – by making us uncomfortable – but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Anxiety is only the messenger. What you do with anxiety is the real question at hand.
When it comes to feeling lonely, and worrying about where we are in life, where we are going, and if we are on track, nothing is more important to pay attention to. Only you can hear and use your anxiety about feeling lonely for its ultimate purpose: driving you towards success in the things you care about most.
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