Treating Loneliness in Therapy

Loneliness causes serious hurt and affects the brain much like physical pain.  It hides in plain sight and isn’t seen as a physical threat, like obesity, smoking, or drug abuse.

“Loneliness is a state that is dependent on one’s perception of the quality of his/her interpersonal relationships.”

Social media can affect a person’s feeling lonely because of a form of anxiety called FOMO or “fear of missing out.”  It is the belief that if no one is calling to get together or go out with me, then no one must like me, leading to feelings of rejection, alienation, and emptiness.  Vast numbers of people go out on the town visiting nightclubs, coffee houses, and other social venues with the hope of making contact with others.  Even while being surrounded by people, one can still feel cut off and detached from any sense of social connectivity.  Types of loneliness can include:

  • New situation  – You moved to a new location or started a new activity (e.g. college) and you don’t know anyone.
  • I’m different – You feel isolated because you feel fundamentally different from others, e.g. you’re gay and surrounded by people who all present as heterosexual
  • No romance – You have no intimate or romantic partner, or you have a partner but don’t feel any profound connection to that person.
  • No animal – You love and deeply connect with animals and desire to have a pet, but can’t.
  • No time for me – Everyone seems to be too busy to want to do anything with you.  Connections no longer feel meaningful.
  • Casual Friends – You have lots of friends, but you sense that they don’t see the real you or maybe they can’t be trusted.
  • Quiet presence – You miss having someone else’s quiet presence, someone nearby, just making tea or reading a book on the sofa.

Loneliness is a state of mind, which means that you can change lonely feelings by simply changing your thinking about your present life situation.  This means that loneliness is a choice and you can choose to think and feel differently!  Further, by changing your thinking, it will give you the courage to go out and meet others face-to-face, which will tackle your lonely feelings directly.  ACT therapy can teach you to identify the values in your life and to make decisions that will move you toward those values.  If building a social network is important to you to prevent loneliness, then working with your therapist to identify mental blocks to developing that network will help you overcome the isolation to which you may be subjecting yourself.  Click below to begin the end of mental anguish and start living life they way it was intended for you to live it!

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