Coping With Loneliness
COPING with loneliness is not easy. Powerful emotions are involved. How can a person deal with loneliness? What have some done to overcome this powerful feeling?
Helena likes to be alone when making some decisions, but she feels that loneliness can be dangerous. When she was a child, communication with her parents was lacking. Not knowing how to get their attention, she shut herself up in her room. She relates: “I began to have eating disorders. I was trapped in depression. I would say to myself, ‘Why should I worry about my parents’ problems when they don’t worry about mine?’ Then I thought that marriage could fill the vacuum of my loneliness. I sought marriage as an escape. But I soon reasoned: ‘Why should I ruin the life of another person? First, I need to put my own thinking in order!’ I sought Jehovah’s help in prayer, pouring out my anguish.
“In the Bible, I found very comforting words, such as those of Isaiah 41:10: ‘Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not gaze about, for I am your God. I will fortify you. I will really help you. I will really keep fast hold of you with my right hand of righteousness.’ These words helped me a lot because I felt as if I had no father. Today I read the Bible regularly and pray to my heavenly Father. I have learned to overcome my loneliness.”
Losing a loved one in death causes sadness, which can lead to loneliness. Luisa, who is 16 years old, expresses her anguish: “My father was killed when I was five years old. I turned to my grandmother for comfort, but I never felt that she loved me. I did not receive much affection during my childhood, when I needed it most. Between the ages of eight and nine, I tried to commit suicide three times. I thought that it would be the best thing for my family because my mother was struggling to bring home food for my three sisters and me. Then we began to associate with Jehovah’s Witnesses. A young married couple took a genuine interest in me. They would tell me, ‘We appreciate you and need you.’ The words ‘We need you’ gave me a lot of strength. Sometimes I cannot express my feelings to someone else, but when I read articles published in The Watchtower or Awake! I give thanks to Jehovah, for through these publications I have felt his love. I have made many changes. Today I can smile, and I am able to express feelings of sadness and joy to my mother. Sometimes memories of the past come back to me but not like before when I tried to commit suicide or when I stopped talking to my loved ones. I always remember what the psalmist David said: ‘For the sake of my brothers and my companions I will now speak: “May there be peace within you.”’”—Psalm 122:8.
Martha has been divorced for 22 years, during which time she raised a child. “Feelings of worthlessness and loneliness tend to surface when I think that I have failed at something,” she says. How does she cope with these feelings? She explains: “I have found that the best way to deal with them is immediately to talk to Jehovah God about them. When I pray, I know I am not alone. Jehovah understands me better than I understand myself. I also try to find ways of taking personal interest in others. My full-time ministry is an especially powerful weapon against negative feelings. When you talk to others about the blessings of God’s Kingdom and realize that your listeners have absolutely no hope and that they see their problems as permanent, you find that you have strong reasons to want to live and keep fighting.”
Elba, who is 93 years old and whose only child serves as a missionary in another country, tells us about how she copes with loneliness: “When my daughter and her husband received the invitation to attend the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, I saw their faces radiant with joy, and I rejoiced with them. Later on, when they received an assignment to serve in a foreign country, I began to feel a little selfish. I knew I wasn’t going to have them close anymore, and I felt a certain sadness. The situation seemed to me like that of Jephthah and his only daughter, described in Judges chapter 11. I had to pray to Jehovah with tears, asking for his forgiveness. My children stay in touch with me. I know they are very busy, but wherever they serve, they make time to keep me posted, sharing the experiences they have had in the field ministry. I read their letters over and over. It is as if they have talked with me every week, and I am so thankful for that. Also the Christian elders in my congregation give appropriate attention to us elderly and infirm ones, following up to make sure we have transportation to the congregation meetings and providing other needs. I consider my spiritual brothers and sisters a blessing from Jehovah.”
You Too Can Cope With Loneliness
Whether you are young or older, single or married, a child with parents or an orphan and whether you have lost loved ones or are experiencing some other type of loneliness, there are ways to cope with your feelings. Jocabed, an 18-year-old girl whose father abandoned his family of six to go to another country, says: “Speak up! It is important that we express ourselves. If we do not, no one is going to understand us.” She recommends: “Stop thinking so much about yourself. Seek help from mature ones, not from youths who may be worse off than you are.” Luisa, previously mentioned, says, “Heartfelt prayer to Jehovah gives us the help we need to get out of what you might call a dead-end street.” Jorge, who lost his wife in death, comments on how he copes with loneliness: “Persistence is needed. Showing interest in others helps me a lot. ‘Showing fellow feeling’ when conversing with others can make our conversations meaningful and can help us to discover the beauty in other people.”—1 Peter 3:8.
Many things can be done to combat loneliness. But will the day ever come when loneliness is a thing of the past? If so, how will this come about? The following article will answer these questions.
a Some of the names have been changed.
[Blurb on page 8]
“Heartfelt prayer to Jehovah gives us the help we need to get out of a dead-end street.”—Luisa
[Box/Pictures on page 7]
What You Can Do About Loneliness
◼ Keep in mind that your situation can be changed, that it is not a permanent situation but a common experience shared by others.
◼ Do not be unreasonably demanding of yourself.
◼ Feel content about yourself in general.
◼ Develop good habits in eating and exercise, and get adequate sleep.
◼ Use the time you spend alone doing creative things and learning new skills.
◼ Be careful not to judge people you meet on the basis of your past experiences.
◼ Value your friends and their unique qualities. Work toward developing a good circle of friends. Ask for ideas from older, experienced ones.
◼ Do something for others—give them a smile, express a kind word, share a thought from the Bible with them. Feeling needed by others is an antidote to loneliness.
◼ Avoid fantasizing about movie or TV stars or Internet or literature characters, imagining a relationship with them.
◼ If you are married, do not expect your mate to meet all your emotional needs. Learn to give and take, to help and support each other.
◼ Learn to talk to others and to be a good listener. Focus on other people and their interests. Show empathy.
◼ Acknowledge that you feel lonely, and talk to a mature friend, someone you trust. Don’t suffer in silence.
◼ Avoid drinking too much, or do not drink at all. Alcohol does not drown your problems—with time they float to the surface again.
◼ Avoid pride. Forgive those who hurt you, and make amends. Be willing to let down your defenses.
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How can a person deal with loneliness?