How Do I Deal with Loneliness?

Dear GoodTherapy,

My life is a sad state of affairs. I have no real friends to speak of, just my cat Lula. Even she doesn’t like me very much. I can’t work because of a disability. I basically sit at home all day eating myself a little closer to irreversible depression and eventual death.

This is no way to live, but it’s all I’ve got. I used to rationalize that being alone was okay because I’m an introvert, but that’s dumb. Introverts need love and socializing too. I have nothing! I feel so lonely.

I don’t think it’s realistic to expect me to go out and make a bunch of friends. I’m ugly, not very interesting, and I’m not easy to get close to. I don’t let people in. Not sure why, I just never have. So then the question becomes, how do I accept my life for what it is? Is it as simple as no longer judging it as meaningless and empty? Please help me stop feeling so alone. —Only the Lonely

Dear Lonely,

I hear your very real sadness coming through. Thank you for reaching out. I am actually hearing two different questions in your message—how do I accept my life as it is, and how do I change it to be less lonely?

I recommend you start by finding a therapist in your area. I hear a lot of negative self-talk and negative self-concept in your message. Finding a way to appreciate what you have to offer yourself and the world around you will be an important first step. Your comment about not letting people in—and that you never have—lets me know the work really begins there in understanding what about connecting with others is scary for you.

I hear a lot of negative self-talk and negative self-concept in your message. Finding a way to appreciate what you have to offer yourself and the world around you will be an important first step.

You also mention not wanting to judge your life as “meaningless and empty.” I agree this is an important goal! Feeling a sense of purpose is essential to long-term well-being. That purpose can be localized or it can be on a broader scale, but feeling that we matter, that we have an impact, that we have a reason for being here is important. You are not alone in struggling to find purpose. Again, working with someone to explore what is meaningful to you will be important.

You are right: introverts need connection too. It is up to you, though, what connection looks like. I have known people who had many friends and were very social and still felt extremely lonely. Meaningful connection with self, with others, and with the world around us can help reduce feelings of loneliness. I encourage you to start that journey by finding someone who can help you work on a meaningful connection to yourself, one in which you feel more accepting of who you are. From there, you can explore how to connect with others.

Best of luck,

Erika Myers, MS, MEd, LPC, NCC

Erika Myers, MS, MEd, LPC, NCC is a licensed psychotherapist and former educator specializing in working with families in transition (often due to separation or divorce) as well as individuals seeking support with relationship issues, parenting, depression, anxiety, grief/loss/bereavement, and managing major life changes. Although her theoretical orientation is eclectic, she most frequently uses a person-centered, strengths-based approach and cognitive behavioral therapy in her practice.
  • Leave a Comment
  • Lisa L

    September 26th, 2018 at 11:12 AM

    Introverts are so misunderstood. Introversion does not = antisocial!!

  • John S

    December 3rd, 2019 at 8:11 PM

    Anyone who says introverts are jerks or antisocial needs to read Carl Jung who believed that introverts and extrovert were BOTH capable of achieving serenity in life. He also believed that part of the problem we have in society is that while introverts can understand extroverts (being the observers they are), extroverts often do not understand introverts. Being an introvert is not the same as being shy. A shy person is a kid in a school cafeteria who sees a group of extroverted kids having a good time laughing and enjoying themselves. He or she desperately wishes to join them, but due to self esteem issues, they are afraid to. An introvert is a person the same cafeteria who has ZERO interest in joining the group of extroverts. It’s exhausting for them to be in a large group of people where no one really knows one another. They prefer to be friends with a few, very close friends as opposed to being popular. Anyone who doesn’t get this concept needs to read the book “Quiet,” which shows how introverts are often some of our greater thinkers, innovators, and leaders. But they would rather read a Victorian novel than go to a party. It doesn’t make them a jerk. To the people who are close to them, they are treated as well as a friend or partner can be treated.

  • Leelou

    December 29th, 2018 at 7:02 PM

    I too have struggled with loneliness and one of the things that has helped me is getting onto Secondlife. It is an online social site that you create an avatar and that avatar socializes with other avatars/people online. It is kind of like a chat room that has avatars. It is helping me hon my skills at interacting with people. I have never been one for small talk and this makes it hard for me to break the ice and move towards developing a friendship. But Second Life has helped me to become more comfortable with my socialization skills. It is not for everyone but it might be a place to start…and you don’t even have to leave you home.

  • Annalee w.

    November 9th, 2019 at 6:01 PM

    Thank you for trying to help me.Did you only send this to me?Love you💘🌹🌼

  • Debra

    April 23rd, 2019 at 3:59 PM

    Hi Sweetie,
    I’m disabled and went through a very bad divorce and I’m on a fixed income of spousal support. I removed myself from my previous acquaintances because my life style changed so much and my friends have slowly been moving from the area out of state and my youngest child has gone off to college leaving me with her cat and I’m very much alone. My disability was caused by a doctor, the anesthesiologist injured my spinal cord and then it was covered up for eleven years while I endured many tests always feeling like my life force or energy was leaving me and unfortunately I was right. I live my life dealing with pain and loss of strength and energy. That being said, I refuse to give in! I get down and depressed often about the things I can’t change, but if I give up and don’t fight for my life I’ll surely die and if not in body then in spirit and then what’s the point? My life is a struggle probably like yours, but it’s the only life I’m going to get. I make sure that the food I eat is good for my body and indulge here and there, but for the most part I believe my body is a temple and I try to teach my brain to grow and make an effort not to let my body grow. Extra weight causes more pain and discomfort so it behooves me to keep my weight under control. I think that’s what it’s about sweetie, what you have control over…apply! Focus instead on what you can do because I guarantee you there is someone who’s in a worse place and wishing they were as functional as you are. There are people who are dying every day who want to live and you have the most precious thing…life! Can you improve your quality of life? Do you want to? You can see a therapist as recommended and I agree, but it’s up to you. A therapist can’t do the work for you so there only as good as you allow them to be. You get to decide, change to make your life more worthwhile or continue to die a slow death. I choose life, I choose to apply myself by learning how to deal with my pain and dysfunction because no body cares about me more than I do. Believe me I was screwed over by doctors and hospitals etc… lost really badly in my divorce and my sense of well being has been challenged on all levels so I relate to you in your situation. It’s a daily process of getting up in what ever capacity you can, I wake in intense pain every day of my life, but I’m always glad to wake up. You can be too, just try to change how you view your life and the work you have to do to change it. It’s baby steps and before you know it life will have improved. You will most likely be who you once were, but with the right focus you can be better than you ever were. Life is precious!

  • Katie

    December 17th, 2020 at 9:02 AM

    So let me take you a few years back and show how my life was. I was always living in depression, didn’t have any dreams, and went nowhere with my life. I used to spend my entire day in negativity, sobbing at night, thinking about how I wasted my day. And despite my efforts to get out of depression, it gradually grew inside me, and I could never get out of the feeling of despair. The most important thing you can do to get out of loneliness is bringing purpose to your life. So instead of sitting idle and overthinking, I started setting up goals for each day and kept myself so busy chasing those goals that I didn’t have a minute to spare. I used to get up late, but now I wake up at 5 am, and when I wake up, I have a paper beside me containing my goals for the day. I feel so energetic and optimistic now, and believe me, there’s nothing more beautiful than early mornings. I started practicing self-love. I realized the fact that why do we depend on a person /thing to stay happy? Only I shall hold the key to my happiness.
    So basically, you can still smile on your worst days or cry even when you are having a great day. It all depends on you.
    Start doing things that make you happy. You could maybe go to a coffee shop, learn something new every day. Start reading novels instead of spending time on social media. Most significantly, plan your whole day a night before and start chasing your dreams.

  • Ted

    March 16th, 2021 at 8:58 PM

    The “self-talk” was important for me. I changed it for myself. Instead of mentally telling myself, ‘Ted, you stupid, dumba##.” Now, I congratulate myself with “Ted, you are so smart. I’m so proud of you.

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