Tag Archives: psychology

Loneliness (Part 3)

For the last two weeks, I’ve been going over the topic of loneliness. In part 1, I talked about what loneliness is. In part 2, I went over some of our common unhealthy ways of dealing with loneliness. And finally, in part 3, I’ll be talking about how to deal with loneliness in a healthier way.

In this life, you will see that others have more of something than you do. It’s unavoidable. Get used to it. Just as there will always be someone who appears to have more money than you, there will always be someone who appears to have more people around them than you do. You might be scrolling down your social media feed and it seems like everyone else is in relationships, everyone else is having a good time with so many friends. Focusing on what you don’t have is not the way to go. That will only make you more upset and lonely. Instead, push yourself to be grateful with what you do have, even if you don’t have a single person in your life, and think positively that you will get the social connectedness you long for.

“But Dan, everyone is getting taken left and right. There’s less and less left for me.” Do not conform to this mindset of scarcity because it will only fill you up with more anxiety and loneliness. Instead, adopt a mindset of abundance. You’ve heard the term “plenty of fish in the sea,” right? That’s the way you have to look at it, for both friends and romantic partners.

Of course just thinking positively won’t get you a friend or a romantic partner. Just like making money, you still need to put yourself out there, take risks, and work on it. But it’s about thinking positively along the way.

Now let’s say you’ve built up an “empire” of social connectedness. Then, all of a sudden, you lose it all at once. This could be like you once had so many good friends in one city and then your family gets relocated to another city and you have to start back at zero. Or it could be like you once had the relationship of your dreams and then you guys break up. This could make you feel pretty darn lonely. Whether it has to do with money or social connections, it’s devastating to go from having everything to having nothing. But you have to move on and build it up again. Stop wasting time thinking about the good old days and what you had before. That’s a huge distraction. Instead, believe that you will build an even greater “empire.” And no matter how many times that “empire” may come crashing down, keep your head up and keep on building.

Getting excluded, misunderstood, and treated differently can also cause loneliness. Instead of jumping from community to community or person to person until you finally feel like you fit in and belong, deal with your inner acceptance issues first. Accept yourself and believe your differences make you beautiful.

Something doesn’t always have to happen in order for you to feel lonely. Sometimes you can just randomly feel lonely. And that’s ok. But remember, don’t look for a quick-fix solutions externally. Let yourself temporarily feel the difficult emotion and think positively all the way through.

The best cure for loneliness, though, is intimacy. It won’t matter how many people you have in your life if you have this kind of oneness with somebody or a higher being. When there’s intimacy, the other person really knows you, you don’t have to pretend to be someone else. Intimacy is a huge topic and I have way too much to say on it. So, in a separate series, I’ll cover the topic of intimacy.

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Loneliness (Part 2)

One of the most common traps many of us get into is looking for external solutions to fix our internal problems. So what’s the most common external solution people use to remove their inner loneliness? PEOPLE. People use people all the time to control their loneliness.

But like so many other external solutions, the fix is only temporary. Loneliness will come back. And if all you know is to latch onto people to take away your difficult feelings, that can turn into dependence on people. And you just cannot have healthy synergic social connections when your relationships are all based on dependence.

Some people choose to depend on a community of people. Dependence on this option could look like someone who just can’t stand being by himself and he just has to be out with friends all the time. Some people choose to depend on a romantic partner. Dependence on this option could look like someone who jumps from one relationship to another with hardly any break in between.

If you are desperate for people to be in your life in order to cover up your loneliness, that can cause even more problems. Here are some of the common problems that arise from desperation in this area. Just to get people, you are more likely to:

  • Overprioritize approval from others that you
  • Lie, make up stories, and pretend to be someone you are not, overexaggerate your successes
  • You are more likely to be perfectionistic about how pleasant you are around others
  • You are more likely to get very disappointed at others for their failure to readily be there for you
  • You are more likely to take advantage of very giving and caring people by unloading your sob stories with absolutely no intention to move forward from them
  • You are more likely to lack healthy boundaries with people and, because of that
  • You are more likely to overextend yourself for others while neglecting your own needs
  • You are more likely to look for community in all the wrong places
  • And hold onto unhealthy relationships

One of my favourite movies that depicts a lot of these problems with loneliness is “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”

But not everyone uses people to remove their loneliness. Some people use substances to numb themselves, some people use work or entertainment to distract themselves, some people go to sleep and hope they wake up not feeling it anymore, and some people use unhealthy psychological strategies in their head to help them cope with their loneliness. Even though you’re not using people in these examples, I still would not recommend responding in these ways because they all have to do with running away from your difficult feelings.

If you’ve already developed a habit of running away from your loneliness, I know it’s going to be very hard to all of a sudden not do these things, but for your own mental health and emotional freedom, you have to let go of these temporary quick-fix solutions.

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Loneliness

One of the things I struggled most with in the past is loneliness. If you haven’t heard my story yet, you can watch my “Draw My Life” video here. I did all the wrong things when it came to dealing with loneliness. But through it all, I am now able to share my experience so that you guys don’t have to go through the same thing, making the same mistakes.

Just as it is a normal part of life to experience both happiness and sadness, it is a normal part of life, as social beings, to experience both a sense of social connectedness and a sense of social disconnectedness or loneliness. And if you are a highly sensitive person, you are going to feel these emotions much more intensely than the average person does. But no matter how intensely you feel these emotions, it does not mean that something is wrong with you. It means your emotions are working well.

But so many of us look at loneliness as a “bad” problem, a problem that should not exist at all. When we look at it like this, it only seems to make sense to remove this emotion right away. And that is what so many people do. That is what I used to do. When you remove it right away, although you return to a more comfortable emotional state more immediately, you will be denying yourself a greater long-term reward. That greater long-term reward is tolerance. This kind of strength can only be built up from continual exposure to a temporary pain that you’ll live through. Yes, you will live through the emotional experience of loneliness.

We all could use some extra strength some time in our lives, especially when we run into some very isolating events. My hope is to equip you guys with that extra strength. But before we do that, we have cut out some of our bad habits that hold us back from achieving that goal. So in my next post, I will go over some of the common unhealthy ways many of us deal with loneliness.

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Self-Esteem (Part 3)

For the last few posts, I’ve been talking about self-esteem. Today, I’m going to finish off this topic with “how to think about yourself.”

 

First thing you have to do is break any habit of thinking negatively about yourself. Trying to work on your self-esteem without doing this necessary step, is like trying to get 6-pack abs through vigorous exercise without cutting out your consumption of junk food. The big difference is, even a little taste of negative thinking will not add any happiness to your life. This first step is not easy to do because many of us are addicted and we keep on relapsing. Cut negativity out of your life cold-turkey and rewire your brain to think positively about yourself in all circumstances.

When you notice that you are different, believe and meditate on the thoughts “I am wholly acceptable,” “I am beautiful just the way I am.”

Next, when you notice the gap between where you are now and where you would like to be, believe and meditate on the thoughts “I have incredible intrinsic worth now,” “I am good enough as a person now,” “Maybe not so immediately, but I will reach my goals.” And meditate on the same thoughts when you face rejection, failure, and others just straight-up put you down.

“Yeah that’s a nice, fluffy concept, Daniel. But how am I supposed to believe that I have incredible worth if everything around me tells me that I don’t?”

This is where perspective comes in. You have to ask yourself, “why do the things around me that tell me that I don’t have value” matter? “Why is it easier to not take it so seriously when I am put down by a toddler who doesn’t know me at all VS when I am put down by an adult who knows me very well?” It is because we think the adult knows more, that the adult is more intelligent, that the adult has more experience and understanding to judge more accurately. Now, as long as you believe that adults, including yourself, have the greatest ability to judge accurately, your view of yourself will always be vulnerable to the judgment of humans.

But what if you were able to really stretch your imagination. What if you were to believe that there possibly might be an entity that has an even greater ability to judge accurately than humankind… that this entity, being omniscient, knows everything about you, even all the things you try to hide from everyone else. And still, this higher being finds so much value in you, regardless of your performance. A good human parent may love his or her child whether or not the child colours within the lines. What if this higher power loves you and finds great value in you even when you don’t “colour within the lines” in life.

This is what I choose to believe in and it has given me so much freedom in my life.

What you choose to believe about yourself, whether it is based on measurable evidence or not, will affect your self-esteem.

 

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Self-Esteem (Part 2)

In my last post, I talked about some events that we all go through in life: (1) when we notice that we are different, (2) when we notice the gap between where we are now and where we would like to be, (3) when we face rejection and failure, (4) and when others put us down. These are all normal parts of life. Whatever thoughts you meditate on about yourself, though, can shape your self-esteem. In this post, I’ll discuss some of the common unhealthy ways we might think about ourselves.

When we notice we are different, negativity may sound like this: “The way I am is unacceptable,” “I need to be like them in order to be acceptable.” These beliefs will cause you to try to make changes to yourself when change is not necessary. If you are rewarded with a feeling of acceptance after giving into this lie, that’s not good. The act of changing then becomes your defense mechanism and you can become dependent on this unnecessary activity. Your personal sense of acceptance from doing this will only last a short time before your core belief about your differences resurfaces and you go back to thinking “the way I am is unacceptable.”

When we notice the gap between where we are now and where we would like to be, negativity may sound like this: “I am not good enough the way I am,” “I need to reach this point in my life to be good enough.” Although self-improvement is a good thing, these unforgiving beliefs will cause you to overexert yourself, possibly to the point of workaholism, and for most of the time, you won’t feel good about yourself.

Next, rejection and failure. Yes, a lot of times, not always, we experience rejection and failure because we may not be good enough in our abilities. But a lot of people, in the face of rejection and failure, think “I’m not good enough… as a person.” Thinking like this is unhealthy. With this kind of thinking, you develop a dependence on acceptance and success to give you a sense of worth. Perfectionism also results from not learning how to be ok with rejection and failure.

And finally, there are times when others just straight-up put you down. Who are they to sum you up and judge your value as a person? But if you believe the negative judgments about yourself, it will break down your self-esteem.

In my previous post, I mentioned that habitually thinking negatively about yourself could lead to low self-esteem, social anxiety, and perfectionism. There’s a lot more. You’ll be dependent on your different control mechanisms to regulate your sense of worth. You’ll think you deserve less or more in life by how your performance fluctuates. You won’t be able to help but judge the value of others in the same twisted way you judge your own value. And you’ll be less happy. It sucks.

So how do we turn this around? You’ll have to wait for my next post.

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