A Strategy For Getting Off The Lonely Struggle Bus

Last week, I mentioned a strategy for making decisions – Best Case Scenario.  Well, we are going to use that same theory as a strategy to help you get off the Lonely Struggle Bus.

As you know, I teach that our feelings are created by our thoughts.  So in order for us to not feel lonely as much as we do, we need to get control of and change our thoughts.  

How?  

One way is by asking these questions next time you are feeling lonely.

  1. Why do I feel lonely? 
  2. What is the circumstance/situation that I think is making me feel lonely?  
  3. What are all the worst things I believe about this situation?
  4. Now, what are all the things that are great about this situation? (Best Case Scenario) 

Pick one of those thoughts from the last question and start putting that in your phone reminders, post it notes, mirror quotes, your car, etc.  Start fixing your eyes on that thought. 

Let’s take an example:

  1. Why do I feel lonely?

I don’t have anyone to eat with tonight for dinner.

2.  What is the circumstance that I think is making me feel lonely?

I don’t have a boyfriend/husband.  

3. What are all the worst things I believe about this situation?

There aren’t very many good guys out there.  I’m old.  Everyone else has a boyfriend.  I’m just boring.  I’m weird/fat/ugly.  I’m never going to find someone.

4.  What are all the things that are great about this situation?

I don’t have to go out with someone who annoys me.  I am not stuck in a bad marriage.  No one is abusing me.  I like who I am. I get to eat what I want to eat tonight.  I can go to sleep early.  I have time to work at a job or learning something new.  I don’t have to worry about him cheating on me like so and so.  God knows best.  I trust God.  

Then pick the best of the best thoughts and fix your mind on that.  

I know it sounds like it doesn’t work.  That’s because your brain naturally doubts and assumes the worst.  Just like it does with being at home by yourself for dinner.  You have to teach it not to be.  

So just do it.  What you’ve been doing hasn’t worked, right?

Do it for two weeks, and let me know how it goes.  

THEN – have your teen try it. Go through the same steps. Have her come up with both sides though. If you just give her the reasons to think positive, she’s just going to assume that you don’t understand and that you’re controlling her. Let her learn to go through the process as well. Trust me.

XO – Natalie

How To Change Your Thoughts of Loneliness

Yesterday, I talked about how loneliness is actually a feeling and can be cured by changing our thoughts.  

So what’s one way to change them?  

Write down all the thoughts you have about being lonely. 

“I don’t belong.”

“I’m not invited.”

“No one understands me.”

“They think I’m weird/awkward/shy.”

As many as you can down…I call it a brain dump or a thought download.  Just get it out.

Then for each statement, write an opposite statement.  

“I belong to several groups – my family, my friends back in Boston, my church.”

“I am invited to other things/I invite different people to my stuff.”

“I understand me.” Or “My best friend in Idaho understands me.”

Why are we writing down the opposite?  

Because our brain will look for the evidence we tell it to to look for.  If I decide to think that I get “front row Jo” parking everywhere I go, I will see it happen more and more.  Only because my brain is looking for evidence to support this thought.

If I decide to think that I have a wonderful husband, my brain will find all the ways that he is.  

The same is true for being lonely.  If we choose to think thoughts that create loneliness, our brain will go to work finding evidence for it.  

If we choose to think the opposite thoughts, our brains will go to work finding evidence for that.  

And the more evidence our brain collects, the more it helps support the thought which turns the thought into more of a thought groove.  

And after the thought grooves is there for a while, it becomes a belief.  

Beliefs are what run our brain in the background. So we want our brain to have new beliefs.

So help a brain out.  Write the opposite.  Look for the opposite.  

The Cure For Loneliness

I remember standing in the middle of a frat party during college and thinking how lonely I felt. All those people drunk and having a good time and I just felt lonely. 

Fast forward years from then when I was a single woman in my 30s and I still felt it.  In fact, I spent nights crying and/or blaming my friends, bad dating choices, or myself because of my loneliness.

Fast forward even more, and as a married woman in my 40s, I can still experience loneliness.  

Why?  Why is it possible for us to experience this in so many different times and situations in our lives?

It’s not because I don’t have friends, a husband, co-workers, and social media at my fingertips.  I have all of those things now just as I did then.

Loneliness is a feeling.  And although we want to think feelings are caused by our circumstances, they actually aren’t.

Feelings – and loneliness – aren’t caused by having friends,  a different family, being single, being 30, or not having kids.  

Feelings are caused by our thoughts.  Our thoughts are what create our emotions.

Which means loneliness is caused by our thoughts.  

This is both good news and bad news, right?

The bad news is that my thoughts are causing my loneliness.   

The good news is that my thoughts are also the cure

Your thoughts are both the cause and the cure to your loneliness. 

When you are thinking “I have no one to go eat dinner with,” you are probably going to feel lonely.  If you think “Everyone else has something to do tonight but me,” you are probably going to feel lonely.  “No one here gets me,” – lonely.  

I used to think this was just true.  My brain would find evidence for it as if it could win in the court of law.  

But the truth is that loneliness is caused by our thoughts, not our circumstances.  

In fact, loneliness used to be something I struggled with A LOT.  And since understanding this concept, it hasn’t been a struggle for me almost at all.  

 What I hope is that you take the time to stop and consider how a lot of our teen and college age girls feel super lonely right now.  It could be because they are transitioning schools, to college, or even from college to the “real world” and they are letting their mind choose thoughts about these transitions that create desperation, loneliness, etc.  

Their brain wants to naturally assign the meaning that they are alone so therefore they are lonely and are going to die.  

And what inevitably happens is they make decisions to go out with the wrong guys, the wrong friends, and try the wrong things just because their mind was creating this false scenario for them.  

But there is a cure. It’s available to them right now. It can help them avoid a lot of wrong choices.

Help your teens learn the cure.