How to Overcome Feeling Lonely in a Crowd
(or From Loneliness to Lioness)
ShoomKloom Editorial Staff
Today, I was sitting alone in a cafe again – with nothing to do. And there it was, my recognition, that I was happy.
I have come a long way. Years ago, I would barely dare to go out on my own because I was convinced that people would stare at and make fun of me (and back then it was not typical to have your office in a cafe).
Being alone – in a place where all I saw was friends talking to each other, couples kissing and happy families – made me feel awkward, ashamed, embarrassed and hopeless. I was sure that I was the only ONE person in this whole wide world who was really lonely.
In reality, I didn’t notice anything of what was really happening:
I didn’t see the couple fighting, others sitting alone or the smile of the stranger. Nor did I smell the coffee. I was totally stuck in my mind and my imaginations – of how desperate and pathetic I must look to them.
A Self-Assessment for You: Are You Happy Alone in a Crowd?
Do you go to a cafe by yourself (and not to do work)?
If you answer YES, does any of the following apply then?
- You are overly self conscious
- You are jealous of others being together
- Your think you are worth less due to the fact you are alone
- You sense everyone is looking at you
- You miss out on what is really happening because all you are busy with is the fact that you are alone
- You have to distract yourself (best with your phone as then you look busy to others)
If your answer is NO, what are your reasons?
- You are embarrassed to be seen alone
- You are busy with what others think about you
- You don’t know what to do with yourself alone
- You are bored when alone and try to avoid it
- You always need to be with someone
Or, if you answer YES – but only to work or play with my phone, my computer, read a book or magazine – why is that so?
- You feel uncomfortable with nothing to do
- You always need to achieve something, even when just drinking a coffee
- You cannot just sit there enjoying that moment
- You constantly feel the need to distract yourself
- You never thought about this and are wondering: “What a stupid question.”
When I actually did go out on my own -it was agony. I was so self conscious that each minute felt like a century.
Maybe now you are wondering: ‘Why did you do this to yourself? Didn’t you have any friends? Or, maybe something was really wrong with you.’
Here’s the answer:
I have always been someone who wanted to conquer herself, her fears and what was holding her back. And once I learned the ‘How to’s’ in self help books, therapies and self empowerment groups I went for it despite my anxieties.
I believed that to overcome this loneliness I just had to change my behavior. So I started speaking to people I’ve never seen before, being funny and delightful instead of serious and grumpy.
In short, I did lots to convince myself that I was comfortable being out alone.
Did it work?
Well, it was all great and fun to do. I met cool people, laughed my arse off and was happy that I had transformed my fear of loneliness into love (as long as I kept going I would be fine I told myself).
Until I figured out that it was still all just a farce and an attempt to escape being alone.
Truth was that I was only covering my fear of being lonely with all these fancy new age and happiness positive thinking attitude strategies.
Underneath I was still the abandoned child crying out for mama. I had not accepted anything. Just kept fighting to not feel this pain of despairingly being ALONE.
5 Roars from Loneliness to Lioness (How it Works for Me)
# 1. Be aware of your thoughts, feelings and sensations
I practice being aware of my thoughts and feelings (my inner world). Being aware does not mean analyzing them and figuring out why I am thinking and feeling a certain way. In the past that was what “being aware” meant for me.
Instead, being aware is simply taking notice of my thoughts, feelings and sensations. Nothing more. I don’t look any more into the:
- “Why is it that way?” or
- “What am I learning from this?” or
- “What is this doing to me?” or
- “What does this mean?” or
- “What shall I do with this?”
If this seems strange to you, you are not the only one. We all are so accustomed to constantly being busy with trying to answer questions, that to not ask any of them nor try to find an answer may at first seem to be a radical step
I invite you to try it out – at least one time.
# 2. Stop categorizing everything into “good” and “bad”
I stop categorizing all and everything that I see immediately into “good” or “bad”.
Instead I just see it for what it is – the fact:
When I see a couple I simply see a couple and not: “Oh, I wish I had someone. They must be soooo happy and I am soooooo miserable.” Someone else sitting alone is not instantly followed by a thought: “This guy must feel bad.” or “I wish I would dare to talk to him.”
Without this “after-party in my head” (where “analyzing”, “comparison”, “self pity” and many others meet) I relax. That way I am open for life and details I never noticed before.
# 3. Quit trying to get rid of your “bad” thoughts and feelings
I notice when I judge thoughts and feelings that are coming up (as bad), because then they are unpleasant and “I don’t want them”. If this happens and I see myself trying to get rid of an uncomfortable thought (such as “I will always be alone”), I just STOP IT.
This means that in this very moment I refrain from any action.
I am talking about inner action here. You surely can move around on your seat or stir your coffee.
It goes like this:
I do not cover the original (bad) thought up with another (positive) thought or feeling. I also don’t feed the thought with another complementary one. Nor do I tell myself: “Stop it!” in a harsh way.
Again, you might ask yourself: ‘What is she talking about? How can I just stop my thought?’
You might believe that thoughts “think themselves”, are overtaking you and there is nothing you can do about it.
So what I am suggesting here is that you see for yourself if that is true, or if it is actually you who is giving power to the thought.
# 4. Refrain from distracting yourself to not feel lonely – Instead fully meet your Aloneness
When I feel the urge to distract myself, to do something, to check my phone, to be or at least look busy to others – I do not follow the urge.
Again, I just don’t do it.
And again, you might be asking yourself right now: ‘Really? But how? I do these things automatically. I cannot stop them just like that.’
All I can say is that if I can, you can for sure. I have been a distraction addict for most of my life just to not feel anything. And yes, it is possible to simply not follow the compulsion and instead be still.
I allow the feeling of loneliness. I locate it in my body. I am willing to observe it without wanting it gone. In fact, the fastest way to get rid of a feeling is to feel it – without any resistance to it.
# 5. Be attentive using all your senses
I am attentive to the moment with all my senses.
Oh, do I love the smell of coffee and fresh bread, the breeze of air, or the sound of the machine humming in the background. The child laughing and watching bypassers, the colors, the faces, details, emotions, lives.
There is so much beauty in the simple things.
Whenever a story is entering my mind (story meaning that I go into dreamland about my past or future life) I simply don’t entertain it.
I gently come back to the time and place where I actually am.
‘Recognizing the freedom of being alone in a crowd is utter bliss.’
Still, at times when I am sitting alone in a cafe, this old idea of loneliness may pop into my mind. It is normal that this happens. Everyone and everything tells me that it is not ok to be alone.
It is just an idea which has nothing to do with where I am in that moment.
I simply cannot be lonely when I pay attention to this moment, the fullness and freshness expressing and its natural constant changing.
And I am blessed to recognize what is beyond any idea (of loneliness).
Being a lioness is aloneness in love.