Author: Lorraine Collins
When we feel lonely, it can often come with a sense of shame. It’s as if our loneliness were a personal weakness, and we’re embarrassed of our need for connection, belonging and being understood.
Loneliness is often amplified rather than lessened by the ‘hose reel’ content on social media. We see our lives in comparison to those being played out in the alternative TikTok or ‘reel’ reality, putting a dent in our self-esteem.
Caught within a negative view of ourselves, we may feel that loneliness is actually an indication of our worth. We might conclude that because we are lonely, we must be undesirable. We must have little to contribute to social interaction, and so we withdraw.
It’s understandable not to want to be amongst friends when we’re not feeling our best. In times like these, I need to be careful not to put up walls between myself and those I love. Before therapy and having tools to navigate crippling loneliness, the walls I installed for my protection became my own self-imposed prison.
My experience has shown me that healing comes from social connection and shining a gentle light on the shame that wanted to keep me isolated. I remember hearing someone say, “Our shame wants us locked in a darkroom developing our negatives”. It made me laugh but resonated deeply.
When I feel lonely, I think about how I might respond to a friend who has just told me they feel alone. I respond with empathy and then offer that same compassion to myself. In doing so, something softens – a space is created for compassion to sit alongside the lonely feeling. We can all practice this. Ever so gently, we can allow our loneliness to be a companion on our terms.
Lorraine is a registered counsellor, psychotherapist and cognitive behavioural therapist. With over 15 years experience in addiction and relapse prevention, Lorraine’s area of expertise is managing anxiety & stress-related burnout. She’s built up an extensive private practice in central London and also works on-line. She lives in London with her partner Mark of 18 years, and their dog Marley moo.