By David Joel Miller.
The do’s and don’ts of loneliness.
Loneliness follows you around. Sometimes that old bugger is waiting just outside your door for a chance to move in. Loneliness is one of the largest causes of relapse. It can take you back to depression, anxiety or drug and alcohol abuse in a minute.
If you hear Mr. Loneliness knocking at your door here are the things you should do and not do to keep yourself safe and headed forward in a happy life.
1. Do practice thought-stopping.
When Mr. Loneliness whispers his message of pain in your ear, drown him out with the positive things you tell yourself. Tell yourself to knock off those thoughts and think about something more helpful.
There are lots of books and articles out there on how to stop negative thoughts and replace them with positive thinking. Make use of thought-stopping.
2. Do reach out to people who are supportive.
Mental health and substance abuse recovery professionals all agree you need a support system. You also need to make sure that those people will really support you in times of need. Mom may let you stay with her but when you are depressed, lonely or feeling like picking up will she know what to say?
Make it a point to maintain contact information for all the people who are supportive of you. If you are a member of a support group or a 12 step community get a list of phone numbers, email addresses or other contact info.
Each day reach out and communicate with someone in your support system. Some people will be there for you and some will not. Some can help with physical things like a ride but are not able to listen to how you feel. Others will be glad to listen to you but can’t, for a variety of reasons, give you a ride.
Know who will support you and in what ways.
Remember support systems are a two-way street. Sometimes when you call, just to check in, you will find that the other person needs to talk more than you do. Be there to support them also.
3. Do pull out your gratitude list.
When you are depressed, lonely or fiending for a drink it is easy to see what is wrong in your life and hard to remember the things that are good.
Whatever you call your lists, gratitude, things that are helpful, things that make you smile, a WRAP plan, write these lists down and keep them close. That way when there is a time you need to see the happy, positive things in your life, you can pull that old gratitude list out and remind yourself the things you are thankful for.
If your lists are thin, work on these lists with your friends, supporters, sponsor or professionals. Often others can see the good in you and the changes that you are making long before you can.
When you are tired and there is still a climb to get to the top of the mountain, it is easy to forget how far you have already climbed.
4. Do not pick up drugs, alcohol or another addiction.
Drugs, Alcohol, Gambling sexual addictions, these were the old solutions to that lonely feeling and the other pains you wanted to avoid. These are the solutions that did not work.
Remind yourself that more of the same gets you more of the same and no matter what do not reach back for an old addiction. Keep moving forward.
Things can and do get better. People do recover from all manner of problems and you can too.
5. Do not rush to hook up with someone to hold that loneliness at bay for a few minutes.
The old saying was “marry in haste and repent at leisure.” Most people spend more time shopping for a used car than for a baby’s mother or baby’s father.
Trying to cure loneliness by jumping into a new sexual relationship is a prescription for disaster. When the novelty of the experience wears off you will find yourself in worse shape than before.
It takes two healthy people to create a healthy relationship. Two people can help each other but you can’t fill the hole in your heart with someone else’s private parts.
6. Do not invite Mr. Loneliness to move in and live with you.
Beware making your life all about loneliness. Do not wear your pain on your sleeve for all to see. You can get caught up in rehashing all the reasons you are lonely and find out that you were the prison guard that locked you inside that lonely cell. Do not torture yourself and call that being realistic.
Being alone may be your condition right now but Mr. Loneliness is a cruel person who does not make a good long-term companion.
7. Do not isolate and hope the feeling will pass.
The cure for loneliness is not avoiding people. It is getting comfortable in your own skin and in being around others. Reach out for help. Do not expect others to fix you. It is the interactions with others that cure loneliness, not the having or being had.
Try these loneliness first-aid tips and see if this procedure keeps Mr. Loneliness away. If you find he has already moved into your life while you were not paying close attention then stay tuned for an upcoming post on ways to get Mr. Loneliness out of your life.
Some people will find that once they let go of Mr. Loneliness they are frantically trying to get someone in their life, anyone, to keep them from feeling lonely, they do not know what to do by themselves. We have a post in the works for that topic also.
Not sure when these posts about Mr. Loneliness and his gang will appear, they are scheduled out into the future, so watch for them and check the topic list to the right of this page for more on the adventures of Mister Loneliness.
Have you had some experiences with Mr. Loneliness? If he is gone – how did you get him out of your life?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended books.
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