Instead of waiting for someone else, sometimes you have to be the one to combat your loneliness.
Have you ever felt so lonely you cried?
I have. When my family first moved across the country, I was incredibly lonely. I knew only a few people. I didn’t know my way around the area. And I missed my old friends. I even cried sometimes because it felt like I would never make friends like the ones I had before we moved. I realized that to combat my loneliness, I had to take action.
Get Out, Reach Out, Look Out
A lot of times when we’re feeling lonely, the first thing we might want to do is spend hours scrolling through social media or watching TV. When I do this I may forget about my feelings for a little while, but in the end, I don’t really feel better. Sometimes I actually feel worse.
When I’m lonely, I have noticed that there are three things I can do to help me feel better: get out, reach out, or look out. I tried to do all three every day, and soon I wasn’t so lonely.
1. Get Out
When I leave my home, whether I’m going for a walk, running errands, visiting the library, exploring a new park, or even just sitting outside, it usually helps clear my mind and give me a fresh perspective on life.
2. Reach Out
Sometimes it takes reaching out ourselves, rather than waiting for someone to reach out to us, to find our way out of loneliness. When I reach out to others, whether it’s calling or video chatting with a friend or family member, dropping a treat off to the sister I minister to, or even just texting a friend I haven’t caught up with in a while, I usually forget myself and feel less lonely almost immediately.
3. Look Out
Just joining a group of people won’t always fix loneliness. We need to form real connections in order to combat loneliness. I’ve noticed when I look outside myself and show interest in getting to know people by remembering things they tell me, asking questions, and looking for the good in them, I usually start to feel a genuine connection. Instead of focusing on your feelings and needs, look outside of yourself for someone who has needs you can meet. You’ll feel less lonely.
You’re Never Alone
It’s OK to feel lonely sometimes. We all do. But with time and a little effort on our part, loneliness can and will pass. Just as we need to “taste the bitter, that [we] may know to prize the good” (Moses 6:55), we all have to experience loneliness and sadness at times so we can better appreciate the happy moments of life.
President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) taught: “We were not placed on this earth to walk alone. What an amazing source of power, of strength, and of comfort is available to each of us. He who knows us better than we know ourselves, He who sees the larger picture and who knows the end from the beginning, has assured us that He will be there for us to provide help if we but ask” (“We Never Walk Alone,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 121).
Looking back, I now see that some of my loneliest moments have also been when I have felt closest to God. When I’m lonely, my prayers are more sincere, I seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost more, and I feel Christ’s perfect love for me more readily.
The Savior Knows
During His earthly ministry, the Savior knew what it was to be lonely (see Matthew 8:20; 26:40). He experienced complete loneliness as He performed the Atonement. On the cross He cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). Heavenly Father allowed this utter loneliness for a moment, partly so Christ would then understand us and know how to comfort us in our loneliest moments.
Loneliness will come and go throughout our lives. But because He perfectly understands, the Savior can “succor [us] according to [our] infirmities” (Alma 7:12) by sending the companionship of the Holy Ghost and helping us find people we can connect with.