Your Guide to Loneliness Therapy in London
Loneliness, a distressing and often hidden experience, stems from a lack of emotional intimacy with others. This feeling of loneliness can originate in childhood or emerge later from difficult relationships, the loss of a loved one, or long distance relationships. Loneliness, a profound feeling of isolation and emptiness, can have lasting effects on your mental health.
If you’ve carried this burden throughout your life, it may originate from childhood trauma, or interactions with narcissistic parents who were incapable of providing emotional support. Recovery from loneliness is certainly possible with private therapy, but left untreated, can lead to mental health issues, depression and low self-esteem.
Emotionally immature parents
Growing up in a family with emotionally immature parents can be an incredibly lonely experience. Outwardly, your parents may have appeared completely normal, taking care of your physical needs and ensuring your safety.
However, if they failed to establish a meaningful connection with you, you probably missed out on the chance to build a sense of comfort and security. This can lead to chronic loneliness in later life, as well as feelings of low self-confidence.
Feeling lonely is similar to having a physical pain, which remains concealed from the outside world. It’s a subjective and challenging experience to articulate. Some describe it as a sense of emptiness or feeling alone in the world, even when surrounded by close friends or work colleagues.
How shame from childhood influences loneliness
Children don’t have an ability to recognise a deficiency in emotional intimacy with their parents. All they can perceive is an inherent emptiness, which will be entirely unconscious, while still setting the stage for future interactions.
A child with emotionally mature parents is able to approach them and seek solace whenever they feel lonely or needy. However, parents who are fearful and cut off from their own emotions, can induce a feeling of shame in the child, for needing any sort of comfort.
If you’re a child of immature parents, it’s likely that the loneliness you felt as a child is still around. You may gravitate towards relationships that can’t provide the emotional connection you need, which just further perpetuates the sense of loneliness and isolation. This can sometimes eventually lead to depression and symptoms of poor health.
Emotional connection with others
A feeling of loneliness comes from a lack of emotional intimacy with others. When was the last time you felt a strong connection with someone, where you felt so comfortable you could share anything and everything? It would mean feeling completely safety in expressing yourself, through words, laughter, or silent time together.
True emotional intimacy means being seen and understood for who you truly are, without judgment. If your parents weren’t emotionally attuned, they may have rejected your moods, and been uninterested in your feelings. Would you describe your parents as being delighted in your presence? A child feels secure knowing they can seek comfort or share their feelings without fear.
How childhood security affects loneliness
It’s during childhood that a strong emotional connection with your parents establishes a secure base and a sense of security. If your parents possessed the self-awareness necessary to be at ease with their own emotions and those of others, you were probably well supported.
But if they weren’t capable of emotional intimacy, or were distant and unavailable, it may have left you with a strong feeling of loneliness, rejection and low self-worth.
Perhaps your parents became anxious or angry when seeing you in distress, and resorted to punishment instead of comfort. This can have a profound effect on your adult life and your ability to be vulnerable and reach out to others for help. You might perceive your feelings of loneliness and emptiness as private and peculiar, setting you apart from others.
Coping mechanisms from childhood
As a lonely child, you may have employed various coping mechanisms to establish some connection with your parents. These tend to carry through to adulthood, and can influence the type of relationships you have.
One coping mechanism is to prioritise others’ needs at the expense of your own. Instead of expecting support or genuine interest from others, you may have assumed the role of caretaker, convincing everyone that you had few emotional needs of your own. While this approach can work for a while, it will come with feelings of not being good enough, and low self-esteem.
Another coping mechanism is to prematurely grow up, and becoming completely self-sufficient. You may have demonstrated a level of competence beyond your years, yet all the time, harbouring a deep-seated, possibly unconscious loneliness at your core. Unfortunately, these coping strategies are not practical solutions, and often make loneliness worse over the long term. Concealing your deepest needs prevents you from ever having a genuine connection.
“Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.”Carl Jung
Empty Nest Syndrome and Loneliness
Another significant life transition that can trigger a profound sense of loneliness is the Empty Nest Syndrome. This condition affects parents, especially mothers, when their children leave home for the first time. If you’re a parent who’s dedicated years to nurturing and supporting your children, you may suddenly feel lonely and uncertain of your role. Your daily routines and social life are drastically altered, and this can leads to strong feelings of loss and emptiness.
Despite being surrounded by others, you might feel isolated, missing the frequent and meaningful connections you once shared with your children. It’s also common for parents to feel anxious about their children’s well-being and success as they embark on their independent journeys.
This is a good opportunity to focus on exploring and rediscovering your identity beyond parenthood. Initiating new hobbies, making new friends, or even going back to work or school can be really helpful to ease the loneliness. It can also provide opportunities to form new and meaningful connections.
Making friends with loneliness
Facing loneliness can seem like a daunting task, yet within it lies a unique opportunity for profound transformation. By accepting and delving into your feelings of loneliness, you offer yourself a priceless gift – the chance to truly understand who you are, to recognise your inherent strength, and to cultivate a self-reliant source of joy.
Over time, you’ll discover that the acceptance of loneliness and other uncomfortable feelings, can pave the way to a more enriched and vibrant sense of self.
Learning to Stay with Your Emotions
As you embark on this journey of self-exploration, it becomes crucial to learn how to sit with your emotions, instead of fleeing from them or seeking distractions. This involves mindfully recognising the physical sensations associated with your emotions and allowing yourself to observe these feelings without judgment.
Whether it’s a knot in your stomach, a lump in your throat, or an inexplicable heaviness, these sensations are your body’s way of communicating with you. Observing them with a sense of detachment allows you to understand them better without becoming overwhelmed.
With practice, you can learn to act as a witness to your feelings, observing and acknowledging them without letting them control your reactions. This skill is crucial in navigating feelings of loneliness and transforming them into pathways for personal growth.
During loneliness counselling, you can explore how loneliness can be traced back to your earliest childhood years. From there you can heal traumas from the past and challenge some of your inherited self beliefs.
Through counselling for loneliness, you can learn to tolerate uncomfortable feelings, and accept yourself as you are. These are crucial steps towards making new friends and long lasting emotional connections.
I offer private therapy in Central London, and take a person-centred approach, meaning that I’m non-judgemental, see clients as equals, and will collaborate with you on your healing journey. If you feel you could benefit from therapy, please book an initial consultation. You don’t have to prepare for this, just come as you are and we can look into how I might be able to help.