How Can I Change My Life if I'm Unhappy & Lonely?

by Mitch Reid

Feelings of loneliness can trap you in an unfortunate cycle of negativity. When you are lonely, you are more likely to make negative assumptions about your current relationships, causing you to push away even your most reliable friends and family members, suggests psychologist Guy Winch in the Psychology Today article "Why Loneliness Is a Trap and How to Break Free." To escape the self-fulfilling prophecy that loneliness can create, use several strategies to win back your happiness and social life.

Challenge Negative Thoughts

Take note of your own negative thoughts, suggests clinical social worker Brock Hansen in the PsychCentral article "10 More Ideas to Help with Loneliness." Even if you are surrounded by friends, you might place your emphasis on every negative social encounter. This kind of negative habitual thinking is often the driving force behind persistent loneliness, so rather than feed those thoughts by searching for evidence of your loneliness, practice questioning your own negativity. When you think, "I have no friends who will listen," question if this is actually true. Perhaps you friends are all currently busy or you haven't even tried to reach out to them.

Be Present

When you find yourself around other people -- whether they are strangers or friends -- practice paying attention, suggests Margarita Tartakovsky, associate editor for PsychCentral, in the article, "3 Ways to Lift Loneliness." It might seem like a simple solution, but it's easy to isolate yourself in social situations by obsessing over your own internal concerns. Escape your own thoughts by focusing on what the people around you are saying and engage them with curiosity. Ask questions, listen to their words and gauge their body language. If your thoughts wander, gently nudge them back to the present moment.

Get Creative

Rather than constantly hunting for social interaction, enjoy the benefits of being alone. Flying solo gives you a chance to pursue your artistic interests. When you're alone, pull out a journal and start writing -- whether you want to play with poetry, write a fiction story or just do free writing. You can also try painting, sewing or making music. You might find yourself so occupied by creating art that you want to spend more time alone -- but don't forget the importance of social interaction.

Avoid Bad Habits

Certain attempts to escape your loneliness can actually decrease your happiness, warns Martin. Choosing negative behaviors when you’re alone, like using alcohol or drugs, might even make you feel worse. Using what might seem like positive behavior such as watching television, playing video games, or even reading can be a substitute for social interaction and can also make your feelings of loneliness and isolation stronger. If you feel the urge to turn to these kinds of escapes, think it through and decide if your choice is helpful or harmful.

Photo Credits

  • MM Productions/Photodisc/Getty Images