10 Things to Remember When You Feel Lost and Alone

10 Things to Remember When You Feel Lost and Alone

“Being alone never felt right.  Sometimes it felt good, but it never felt right.”
―Charles Bukowski

“This morning I felt lost and alone as I was driving home after a brutal breakup with my boyfriend.  I turned on the radio and the Michael Jackson song ‘You Are Not Alone’ was playing.  A few seconds later, at the exact moment the chorus began, I passed a huge billboard sign with big black letters that read, ‘YOU ARE NOT ALONE!’”

That’s the opening paragraph of an email I received today from a reader named Ella.  It made me smile because I love when life delivers seemingly coincidental, positive messages like that, right when we need them most.

However, the rest of Ella’s email further described her ongoing struggle with feeling “lost and alone” in life.  Which got me thinking…

Why do people have to feel this way?  What’s the point of it all?  Millions of people in this world, all of them craving connection, and looking for specific experiences and people to satisfy them, yet inadvertently isolating themselves in the process.  Why?  Was the planet put here just to nourish our loneliness?

The more I’ve experienced and explored my own feelings of uncertainty and loneliness, the more I’ve realized how necessary these feelings are.  It’s good for us to spend time exploring unknowns, alone.  It gives us an opportunity to discover who we really are and what life is all about.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you feel lost and alone:

1.  You are not alone in being alone.

So many of us are fighting the same exact battle alongside you.  We are all in this together.  So no matter how embarrassed or pathetic you feel about your own situation, know that there are others out there experiencing the same emotions.  When you hear yourself say, “I am all alone,” it’s just your worried mind trying to sell you a lie.  There’s always someone who can relate to you.  Perhaps you can’t immediately talk to them, but they are out there, and that’s all you need to know right now.

2.  Sometimes when you’re lonely, you need to be alone.

Sometimes you need to be alone, not to be lonely, but to enjoy a little free time just being yourself and finding your way.  In other words, the moments you feel lonely are the moments you may most need to be by yourself.  This is one of life’s cruelest ironies.

We need solitude, because when we’re alone we’re detached from obligations, we don’t need to put on a show, and we can hear our own thoughts and feel what our intuition is telling us.  And the truth is, throughout your life there will be times when the world gets real quiet and the only thing left is the beat of your own heart.  So you’d better learn the sound of it, otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s telling you.  (Read Quiet: The Power of Introverts.)

3.  You have to be a little lost first to find what you’re looking for.

Not until you are lost in this world can you begin to find your best path.  Realizing you are lost is the first step to living the life you want.  The second step is leaving the life you don’t want.  Making a big life change is pretty scary.  But you know what’s even scarier?  Regret.

I can tell you from my own life experience that I’ve found love, lost it, found it, lost it and then I found it once again.  But each time what I found was more incredible than the last.  So remember that everyone suffers in life at some point.  Everyone feels lost sometimes.  The key is using your experiences to grow.  When you apply what you’re learning to your future choices and actions, you move forward not backward.  You become stronger and wiser.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth it in the end.

4.  It’s all about accepting the reality of what is.

You cannot find peace by avoiding life.  Life spins with unexpected changes; so instead of avoiding it, take every change and experience as a challenge for growth.  Either it will give you what you want or it will teach you what the next step is.  And remember, finding peace in life does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, no challenges, and no hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things while remaining calm in your heart.

Honestly, life is too short to spend at war with yourself.  The biggest disappointments in our lives are often the result of misplaced expectations.  Letting go of needless expectations is your first step to happiness.  Come from a mindset of peace and acceptance, and you can deal with almost anything and grow beyond it.

5.  In every situation, YOU choose your attitude.

Be determined to be positive.  Understand that the greater part of your misery or unhappiness is determined not by your circumstances, but by your attitude.  A happy person is not a person who’s always in a good situation, but rather a person who always has a good attitude in every situation.  So smile at those who often try to begrudge or hurt you; show them what’s missing in their life and what they can’t take away from you.  Doing so doesn’t mean forgetting or giving in, it means you choose happiness over hurt.  (Read Buddha’s Brain.)

6.  Being alone does not mean you are lonely, and being lonely does not mean you are alone.

The trouble is not always in being alone; it’s being lonely in the presence of others.  One can be lonely in the midst of a crowd.  Wouldn’t you agree?  So keep this in mind and choose your relationships wisely.  It’s always better to be alone than to be in bad company.  And when you do decide to come back for someone, do so because you’re truly better off with this person.  Don’t do it just for the sake not being alone.

7.  Everyone you care about does NOT need to support your decisions.

Friends and family won’t always support your goals, but you must pursue them anyway.  Follow your intuition.  Following your intuition means doing what feels right, even if it doesn’t look or sound right to others.  Only time will tell, but our human instincts are rarely wrong.  Even if things don’t turn out as you anticipated, at least you won’t have to spend the rest of your life wondering what could have been.  So don’t worry about what everyone else thinks; just keep living and speaking your truth.

Ultimately, you know you’re on the right track in life when you become uninterested in looking back, and eager to take the next step, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

8.  You are not who you used to be, and that’s OK.

You’ve been hurt; you’ve gone through numerous ups and downs that have made you who you are today.  Over the years, so many things have happened – things that have changed your perspective, taught you lessons, and forced your spirit to grow.  As time passes, nobody stays the same, but some people will still tell you that you have changed.  Respond to them by saying, “Of course I’ve changed.  That’s what life is all about.  I’m still the same human being, just a little stronger now than I ever was before.”

9.  The best you can do changes from day to day.

Always do your best.  And realize that “your best” is going to change repeatedly.  For instance, it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.

Under any circumstance, simply do your best in the present moment and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.  And remember that no matter what’s happening, you can efficiently fight the battles of just today.  It’s only when you add the battles of those two abysmal eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that life gets overwhelmingly complicated.  It’s necessary, therefore, to let yourself live just one day at a time – just today – just right here, right now.  And do the best you can in it.  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self_love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

10.  It all matters in the end – every step, every regret, every smile, and every struggle.

The seemingly useless happenings add up to something.  The minimum wage job you had in high school.  The evenings you spent socializing with colleagues you never see anymore.  The hours you spent writing thoughts on a personal blog that no one reads.  Contemplations about elaborate future plans that never came to be.  All those lonely nights spent reading novels and news columns and comics strips and fashion magazines and questioning your own principles on life and sex and religion and whether or not you’re good enough just the way you are.  All of this has strengthened you.  All of this has led you to every success you’ve ever had.  All of this has made you who you are today.

The floor is yours…

What helps you stay positive when you feel lost and alone?  What’s something encouraging you try to keep in mind when you’re up against lots of uncertainty?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Photo by: Little Zoker

Comments

  1. Michele says

    I’ve never left a comment before but I need to say something. Not sure what though. I feel extreme emotional pain, loneliness, heartache. I believe I have failed. I’m 41 now. When I was young I was the cool pretty girl that all the boys wanted to call their girlfriend. I lost my mind at age 19. State hospitals and 20 years later my mind came back to me. I’m not that girl anymore. Now I am a single mom of 3 young boys. My husband betrayed me and left (a blessing though really that he left, he was very abusive). My friends all left. My family left. I was part of a church, they asked me to leave?! I am alone. I go weeks without talking to another person. I would be dead if it wasn’t for my children. They say things though like mom why don’t you laugh, or why don’t you have friends. It breaks my heart they deserve so much more. My own sister doesn’t want anything to do with me? No one does and I don’t know why. I stay at home and tear myself to pieces trying to understand why? What did I do? What’s wrong with me? All I can gather is people, even the people who are supposed to love you the most are more inclined to judge you and abandon you rather than stick thru the hard times with you. I have a necklace from a friend who left. It’s a heart with the verse love is kind on it. She gave it to me because she said I was the kindest person she had ever met. A lot of people used to say the same thing to me. Why did everyone abandon me? And where do I go from here? I’ll make it thru this. The first 1/2 of my life was worse. If anyone out there could pray I find my way maybe our God will hear you. My heart goes out to all feeling loneliness.

    • Lyn says

      Dear Michele,

      I’ve read your comment.
      I feel very sorry about you story.
      But come to think of this, Your friends, husband, and even your Sister may have left you. But, you still have your 3 adorable children and that what God’s blessed you. He gave you those 3 angels to be with you to remind you everyday that after all the loneliness, neglected feelings that other’s brought on you, that there is a better life waiting for you out there. You just have to stand up for you and for your kids, there are people who will stay and and who will not in our lives. But I can assure you that your kids will stay for not permanently but Forever and love you unconditionally.

      I will include you to my prayers tonight before I go to bed. I will ask God to give you more strenght and give you happiness that everyone deserves in this world. I know you are a good mother to your kids. So keep your head up high and be happy. ♡

      Best,
      Lyn

    • Marty says

      Michele

      Back to my earliest memories, I have been kind of a loner my whole life. I have made many friends over the years but have never been able to make any of them work long term. This starts all the way back in my early school years right on up to University, work, my adult life and a failed marriage.

      I have made many mistakes and done things that I am not proud of but I have never been an unkind or mean person.
      Although I have never been described as “the nicest person anyone knows”, I have always been very sensitive to others.
      I have never looked down upon, nor felt superior to, anyone.
      Not anyone.
      But, still, I have suffered tremendously, in regards to relationships, almost my entire life.
      In a room full of people, I could feel alone.

      On the inside I also wondered
      “what’s wrong with me ?”
      “what have I done ?”
      “why do I feel so alone ?”
      I wondered why I felt the way I felt.
      I knew something was wrong but I did not know what.

      I see now that what was wrong was that I was wearing the armor of a false attitude and it was lacking.
      It was fake armor that didn’t protect me from anything and I think it made me drive people away or keep them from getting too close.

      It was armor I had put on as a small child.

      When I was very young, 7 years old, my father died.
      Up until the time he got ill we were very involved in the Church and I had strong faith. I believed and trusted in the Lord.
      When my father got ill, I prayed and I prayed that God not take him.
      God had other plans and he died just after Christmas 1975.
      I remember sitting in the Church at his funeral and I can still taste and feel the hot tears that were running down my face.
      I also remember saying my FU’s to the Lord that day.
      I told Him that He didn’t care about me and that He had not heard any of my prayers and that He wasn’t real and I wasn’t buying any of it any more.
      We were through and I walked away.

      That day, I guess I took off the real and mighty armor of God’ undying love for me, and replaced it with the fake armor of a false attitude.
      I guess it was an attitude that said” I don’t need anyone”, and “no one will hurt me like that again”.
      It was an attitude that would leave me naked and defenseless for a long, long time.

      It would take me almost 40 years to re-cloak myself in the very real and mighty armor of God’ love and, once I did, my life and my relationships began to change almost immediately.

      Without recognizing God’ true love for me through His son Jesus Christ how could I ever have true love for myself ?
      And without having true love for myself how could I ever show true love for anyone else ?

      When you have that, I believe, good people are drawn towards you and stay in your orbit, like gravity. Or, more accurately, they’re drawn into the same gravitational orbit that you have been drawn into.
      God’ love is like a magnet.

      I had also, over the years, neglected to count the many, many, many blessings in my life, some of which were indirect results of my father’ death, one of the worst days of my life.

      My biggest blessing is knowing that He loves me and He loves you and, no matter what anyone else says or does or what we may have done in the past, His love, through redemption, is forever.

      You just have to open your heart and give yourself to Him fully and completely, knowing that He has a plan for you.
      Once you do that, you have gained the most dependable ally you could ever hope for.
      He will never abandon you and will always be there through the hard times.
      Don’t tear yourself down, build yourself up through His word.
      None of us are failures until we give up trying.
      Reaching out is the first step and you have taken that.
      I had been away from His word for a long time and I felt like a bit
      (a lot) of an outsider myself so I struggled to find the right Church for quite a while. I finally did.
      Looking at my 9 yr old son also reminds me of how truly blessed I am. We make a lot of our own laughter and it’s great.
      Your 3 boys are very lucky to have such a devoted and determined mother and I know they are behind you. We all are !
      We all make mistakes but none of us are mistakes.
      His world is at your fingertips, right now.
      We will all pray for you and we love you.

      He loves you.

      • Ruth says

        Thank you Marty for writing this! I lost my Dad at the age of 6 and just realized that I have done the exact same as you. I lost my faith and chose to believe that everyone that I ever loved would leave and guess what….they did, probably because that was what I believed would happen, why I am so surprised I have no idea. Makes me laugh a little and shake my head. So after 44 years I finally had the realization that as a child I set my course and the adult is just now catching on. Geez I just can’t believe I am that slow but it just goes to show what happens when you look through the same dirty lens for so very long. Thank you!!

    • India says

      Lisa, I am so sorry to hear you are feeling that way, and it’s no surprise you are with so many things going on. So brave of you to share you feelings too, so many people keep their emotions locked inside.
      What an amazing thing to be told your the kindest person they ever met. Of all the peole they ever met you are the kindest. You sound lovely.
      If you want to have someone to chat with you are more than welcome to skype or email me anytime. We can exchange details. Everyone needs a friend and to be loved.
      Sending love and warmth to you lisa. Xx

    • C says

      I lost my mind at 21, two hospital stays later and a hell of a lot of Lithium , depakote, lamictal, klonopin, not all at the same time. I read your story and I hear someone who feels deeply…When someone doesn’t say Hi, how hurt do you feel, I’m guessing more than the average person. Those of us that feel deeply have to understand that others don’t or refuse to recognize their emotions.. It seems like people have left you, but really they are getting on with their lives and you need to too. Surround yourself with those that feel deep as well and they will understand and respect you and your life. I have a family that is self absorbed so if I want their attention I have to scream. Sometimes they are all I have so I have to wave, jump up and down to get attention. But like I said, find those people that cherish you and respect you and hold on to them,let them “see” you. Right now my boyfriend has moved to Florida, he was all I had. I cried and still cry for him, but it is where he can make money… So after many panic attacks and suicidal thoughts i realized the only way to preserve my life is to get people in it connect with anyone. At first it was crisis clinic twice a week, then i said ok I have all this time on my hands I will do some volunteering and horses came to mind. So i help a woman out with her 3 horses, one in particularly I am trying to gain her trust and her mine. i take horse whispering classes and love it. Tonight I feel lonely, my boyfriend is fast asleep, but tomorrow I get to see Marley..It may sound pathetic, but i have no kids, divorced, boyfriend gone…and yes i would move down with him in a minute but there is insecurity with this position and I work and have health care, jobs aren’t easy to come by… but we have plans for Oct. In the meanwhile, I see my parents on the weekend and cherish the time I have with Marley and the friendship i am making with Sue the owner of the horses. and the friendship I am making with the horse whisperer who is an awesome person. These are my people, and I can’t afford to let them go. Letting them into my life is hard for me. Anyone who has been abused in some way will shut the door very easily to others, that is the safe path, but not the full-filling one. I just read in a book that if animals are not curious then they don’t find the good food and shelter. Be curious to find those who will love you……So thank-you, big thanks, for sharing your loneliness for right now I am not lonely. C

  2. lisa says

    i decided to leave a comment because i feel like there is no one else that can listen to what i feel and understand my sadness. I am only 18 and i know that there is a lot more out there and that it may be only a phase but it’s the first time that this feeling of loneliness and anger cannot leave my mind for weeks.I feel like all my friends have abandoned me and i don’t know why.It’s not me..i guess..in most cases we just grew apart.Now I’m struggling especially with my boyfriend because it’s a new relationship and I can’t be completely honest about my non-existent friends.So I just find excuses and i tell one lie after the other to hide from him the real situation and to pretend that i have lots of friends.What is hurting me the most though is the feeling that i have now,like i want to escape to leave and never come back…the feeling of anger towards the world,happy people,people who live their lives..

    • Drea says

      Hello Lisa,

      I am sorry sorry to hear that you feel so sad, and angry at the world. What if you told him the truth? Maybe you would feel better? From my personal experience, lying hurts. When I am not being honest with others, and/or myself, i feel like I am denying who I am. Lisa, it sounds like you are going through something very difficult, and it might help to talk to someone. I feel like that sometimes too, and it helped me.

      Perhaps, try asking yourself, what are your running away from? I think that it would be helpful if you spoke to someone you could trust about how you feel.

      I feel that way sometimes too, and it is exhausting, because there isn’t always a reason, and sometimes these feelings come without any warning. But when I feel like that, what helps me is writing in my journal, exercising, and singing. When I do these things, I release some of that tension that is building inside of me. I know, that it feels unbearable, and that you are in pain, but remember that this is phase, and it too will soon pass, and you will feel better.

      Life is full of phases, sometimes I have a lot of people around me, and at other times, I spend most days by myself. As other people have mentioned, you can be in a crowd of people and feel alone. Perhaps you should ask yourself, how can I feel less lonely? If you would like to meet new people there are many meet up groups available, or perhaps reaching out to an old friend. It usually tends to please people when you contact an old friend ( and with social media this is much easier than it used to be) you can write “hello, i know it has been a long time, but i was wondering how you were doing, and whether you would be interested in catching up…” it helps to talk to someone.

      To conclude, I wish you the absolute best. Things will get better.

      God bless!

  3. Yvette says

    Hi Michelle,

    I read your comment and cried because it was like you were writing my story. I like you was in an abusive relationship and was very happy he was gone. I thought people would be more supportive, but I came to realize that I was putting up with more abuse and judgement from so called friends. My family has always been mean,so I wasn’t surprised. But I ended up having a nervous breakdown,taking myself to the hospital because I literally felt like I was so sick, I was dying. I had 2 young ones at the time. I feel for you because I have been there and wish I could give you a hug. That was all I ever wanted and nobody would give me one.
    Fast forward 18 years later and I still struggle with loneliness and it’s hard. I have managed to make a couple of good friends along the way which has helped, but I know this will be my struggle to overcome. I too,spent years not speaking to anyone. I realize now that is because of the abuse I went through and not being able to talk about it. It has also made me feel so out of place, like I don’t fit in because I see lots of people in loving relationships, and I have never had that.
    It is tough, and I am so sorry that you are going through this. just know you are not alone. It does get better with time and the thing that kept me going was the fact that my kuds adored me and that was the best feeling. I do not believe in God, so I cannot pray, but I do believe in humanity, and I am sending good vibes your way for someone to come into your life and just hug you, and tell you everything is going to work out. Sending good thoughts your way
    Yvette

  4. says

    When I feel lost and alone, I use that emotion to drive myself to do productive things. It used to be intense fear and sorrow–this comes from my trauma from the past–that at times made me actively suicidal. I have learned to think about my thoughts and choose not to believe every one of them negative ones.

  5. Paula says

    Thank you Marc!! This is both inspiring & universally well timed for me. What’s interesting is that I had read this sometime back & at that time thought..So true & well written. But, for whatever reason it was not resonating with me fully… clearly.

    I think that both our hearts & minds need to be in that particular place where we say ” Ahhhhh, I get it!” Or, “Thank you, I really needed that bit of clarity…of knowing, no matter what that ” knowing” may be.

    I have been lost for quite some time now & I now know that there is never any going back…only forward. I had lost my husband of 16 years to cancer over 6 yrs. ago, I felt as if a limb was virtually cut from my body…As if there was a piece of me actually missing. I knew there was, but invisible to all but me. That 1st year I describe as if I walking through quicksand…Things felt slow, like the menial tasks of every day life took so much effort…strength. We had 3 beautiful girls together & every day I am reminded of how blessed I truly am…Having him in & sharing a life with me for 17 yrs. Creating these beautiful, now young women, who being teenagers when he passed, I consider a blessing for the fact that they KNEW him, he was given that time to mold & define their beliefs of men…all good. Others lose someone & are never given that opportunity, I am lucky, I know this & I don’t forget it. He was an amazing husband & father & for that I am eternally grateful. Loss..no matter what it entails, is loss. Whether it be a loved one ( or not so loved one), loss of a relationship, friends, a career, a home, health…on & on, it is ALL relative, it is loss & that can cause some extreme pain & loneliness…at times. Some short & some long…But know that just by being here…It is a step forward, by reading this & being in the company of others who are feeling the same way…YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Peace, comfort & love to all.

    Paula

  6. niko says

    Dear Michelle,

    Just because the people who were around you before are not there anymore doesn’t mean you are alone. Maybe this is the time to do the things that really matters to YOU. Sometimes in life we unconsciously interpret making the people around us happy makes us happy. We do it without anything in return nor you ask for it. But life can really be a bitch because the time will come(like right now} when you are asking for paybacks from the same group of people you made once happy. If you don’t get it, we kinda distance ourselves from them. I know I did.

    Currently, Im in a shithole that I don’t even know how I got myself into this. Lost my house, my wife/best friend/partner in crime for 15 years, my dog Clover, my job….all these happened within a year apart from each other. Believe me, I know how you feel. It’s ok to be sad but let’s not get stuck to it because we might miss the real happiness we are looking for. Let’s make ourselves happy by embracing all these BS and knock them off the ball park!

    We have to start from within ourselves first. Let go of the past. There is no payback for the things we did to them before….we did it because that’s who we are and that what makes us happy! If they don’t realize that then let’s move on because there is always something better for us out there. Girl, I still cry myself to sleep but you know what really scares me is that when the time comes that I forget about me losing my house, my wife/best friend/partner in crime for 15 years, my dog Clover, my job. Because that means I already moved on and Im not holding back anymore.
    I will pray for you. remember, no regrets…….

    niko

  7. Anmol Joy says

    Dear Michele

    I really felt pain in heart while reading ur comment..almost cried and want to give u hug.I am half of ur age & dont have much experience but I can relate myself to u,not in situation but in thinking.By reading I only knew that u need love & trustworthy people around u who going to love u without Judging for any condition and not abandon u.But u know this kind of person are really hard to find..who really going to sacrifice for u and accept u for who u are.!! I am definitely going to pray for u and believe one day everything going to change as life doesn’t always be same and as said above that u are not only one who is alone & is in miserable condition but many do & some are even worse .And u have 3 children from God who are there in ur loniness so Just hold on for good things coming to ur life in future…Time change..situation changes…people changes so God have a plan for u…just stay strong! I know writing & saying is easy but going through situation is hard as I felt myself..its only u who can keep urself up and here we praying for u

  8. Karen says

    Hello.
    I’m sat here tonight, feeling just like you, deepest loneliness , lost. I’ve spent hours crying, as to where my life has led me, and what my future holds. I too have 3 kids, lone parent,
    I just want to say, I’m here any time you need to talk. It’s not right people especially family, treat you like this. I too know how it feels, I feel like screaming and no one hears me, I look in the mirror and don’t recognise my reflection. There is so much more out there and I’m blinded by the situation I’m in.
    But remember your not alone, xx

  9. Shawn says

    It is really difficult to be alone, till you realise the fact that you and only you are your commander. Nobody can stop you from dreaming and making those dreams happen. So being alone is actually a power which only few have. Be yourself and you will find solitude.

  10. Jo says

    I feel the pain of all the other lonely people in the world. I cry for them because I know the numb agony of being alone.

    It isn’t the physicality of being alone. The lack of comfort in another human is unnatural and sends subconscious signals that something is wrong. This makes us stressed and anxious.

    The conscious mind is the real killer. It takes that panic and runs. The something wrong becomes the self. I am alone as a result of an action i perpetrated. I am not good enough for other people, im not good enough at my job, not funny, friends no longer are interested Without realising it becomes self imposed exile away from others -spiralling away from reality -eg friends are actually busy to the minds translation they don’t want to see me, they no longer want me

    I know the cycle. I am in it. I have pushed people away ironically because I don’t want them to leave but I can’t let them see “me”. Yet I cry gutteral tears of dispair at my loneliness.

    I am left never being able to let anyone close yet yearning for closeness with all my heart.

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