Our mind-health Q&A columnist Athena Laz is a qualified psychologist and the author of You’ve Got This. She’s on a mission to help you clarify your blocks so that you can move onwards and upwards in life. You can see her work here.
‘I’m a 22 and I’m suffering. I tend to over-analyse things and when I do, I end up crying. I feel bad as some people don’t understand that I’m a loner so they distance themselves from me which just makes me feel worse. They assume that I’m angry at them which then just leads me to further keep to myself. I’m unemployed, living at a relative’s house. I have no kids and no boyfriend; it’s just me, myself and I. Do you think I’m always going to experience these feelings?’ – Nokwanda
It sounds like you are feeling incredibly lonely and unhappy at the moment. Your instinct here may be to fill up your life to avoid feeling this way but this could turn out to be unhelpful in the long run. Recognising that you are stuck in an unhelpful pattern of behaviour is the first step to changing it. You are withdrawing from those around you, stating that you are a loner, when it actually just sounds like you are lonely and unsure of expressing how you feel to those around you. Can you see how this is a vicious cycle? Feeling lonely is always intensified by the act of isolation. The upside of this is that you can break this cycle by simply talking to people, who you trust, about what’s bothering you and how you feel. That said, if you don’t feel like the people around you will be able to understand what’s going on for you or lack empathy in what you are experiencing you can speak to someone from Lifeline (free telephonic counselling) here.
Also a note here: being alone and feeling lonely are two different things. You could have a boyfriend and a child and still feel lonely. Your relationship with yourself is one of the most important relationships that you will ever have. Ask yourself this, if someone else had to treat you the way you’ve been treating yourself, would you be happy? So instead of trying to fix your feelings of loneliness with things outside of you, why not go within and try to discover what it is that is really bothering you? What do you want for your life? What would make you happy? What job would you love to do? What would you need to do to get that job? It is okay to feel lost and frightened about the unknown. You also don’t have to walk it alone. You can talk about how you feel and what you are struggling with. Just know that you have the inner power to change anything that is not working for you. You have the power to work on your self-esteem and move forward confidently. It’s time that you start believing in you. Imagine waking up and saying: it’s just me, myself and I and I freaking LOVE it.