Feeling alone even when you’re around people? Here’s what you can do

“I could be sitting with a group of friends, talking, laughing, eating, having a great time. But somehow I feel as though I’m not really there. I don’t feel like I’m ever fully enjoying myself. It feels like something is missing, and that something is me.”

Feeling lonely around others is a difficult and confusing feeling. You may feel isolated. If you cannot connect to yourself, you may have difficulty relating to others. In conversations, you may feel that people don’t really listen to you, or you may feel overlooked and unappreciated in your personal and professional relationships. Often, any hope for meaningful relationships diminishes in these moments.

This loneliness is often accompanied or exacerbated by a feeling of purposelessness or even restlessness. Without a focus of what you want from relationships, from yourself and your life, you may feel transient and shallow. For expats, who have a transient lifestyle anyway, having a strong internal anchor becomes even more crucial!

Steps to feeling better:

  • Build your self-esteem. Yes, you can become more confident! The underlying cause of habitual loneliness is often lack of self-esteem. Start a journal: at the end of each day, note the achievements you feel proudest of (these don’t have to be big: perhaps you got to a meeting on time, or made a phone call you’ve been putting off… ). After only one month, if you go back and review the pages, I guarantee you will be amazed by your qualities and accomplishments.
  • Change your body language. If you feel invisible, small or insignificant around others, chances are that your body language reinforces this. It’s a vicious circle! Think about it: Which person are you more likely to be drawn to: someone who stands up straight and tall, speaks clearly, and looks others squarely in the face, or someone who hunches over, mumbles, and avoids making eye contact? Now’s the time to adjust the way you stand, speak and move around other people. Practise by yourself first – as many times as you need to – until you start to feel more comfortable with your new posture of confidence.
  • Engage in deeper conversations with those you care about and trust. Meaningful relationships and interactions are a wonderful (and essential) way to fill this space of loneliness. I understand this is not always easy to do but it is a skill worth learning. Start with showing real interest in what others are saying or ask questions like, “How did that feel?” or “What do you think about [topic that you both care about]”.
  • Get to know yourself better and find a purpose. Decide on who you are and what kind of person you want to be. Without knowledge of who you are, there is nothing to connect with. It is difficult to feel alone when you have purpose! Find the meaning in your life and begin to move in that direction.
  • If you feel empty, then talk to a professional at once. We recommend counselling if you feel as if you are a witness to yourself, or if there’s a void within that leaves you feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied. A good counsellor can help you find a purpose and move through challenges. Be sure to benefit from our 15-minute get acquainted chat or book your session here.

Now, I would love to hear from you. Have you ever felt persistently lonely, even when you are around others? What helped you deal with this loneliness? Which of the above tips would you use to help you feel more present and connected with others?

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© Vivian Chiona

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