What is loneliness?

Loneliness is an incredibly uncomfortable feeling to experience, but it’s also more common than you might think. Loneliness is especially common for people who have lived outside of their home country. Are you living abroad and experiencing loneliness at the moment? First of all, I want you to know that this is an absolutely normal feeling. Secondly, I want to offer some ideas and tools on how to survive loneliness as an expat.

When people move abroad they’re often confronted with loneliness in a brand new way. This happens because more often than not, these people are lacking a social support system. It takes time to build up and really connect with people when you are in a new place. Therefore, sometimes loneliness is simply trying to tell us that we need to make new connections. Loneliness can serve as a wake-up call to make that first step to go outside, or online to a local expat Facebook group, and start building meaningful connections.

First steps to take when dealing with loneliness

However, there are other times when loneliness is just there and there isn’t anything we can do about it. You have probably experienced that feeling when loneliness creeps in even if you are in a room full of people. Sometimes reaching out to others isn’t an option when we live abroad because friends frequently move away, or because loneliness might hit when family and friends back home are still asleep. So how to survive loneliness when we can’t turn to other people to ease this heavy feeling?

The first step is to make space and accept this difficult feeling of loneliness. Accepting loneliness and simply letting it be is the first and a very crucial step in learning how to manage it. Secondly, we have to learn not to judge loneliness when it arises. The most difficult part of surviving loneliness as an expat is not the loneliness in itself, but actually those judgmental feelings that come straight after we start feeling lonely.

Judgment most likely will lead to a spiral of self-criticism. You might start telling yourself that there’s something wrong with you for not having friends which can also lead to feelings of shame. You might also judge yourself for feeling lonely when you’re “living the dream” of living abroad. Remember, all judgment does is to bring up even more hard feelings such as shame, stress, or anxiety.

Therefore, understanding these first two steps when dealing with loneliness is so important. Recognizing that it is a normal human feeling and that it will not last forever will provide you with some release from the start. We can then move on from there and implement other tools and techniques I talk about in my video below.

Please watch the video and let me know if this was helpful and if you are going to try these techniques in order to survive and manage loneliness as an expat.