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2 Types of Loneliness … And How to Face Each Type

2) Chronic Loneliness

If you’re lonely often, and you’ve struggled to sustain connections over time, then it may be that you’re experiencing a second type of loneliness, often called chronic loneliness, or emotional loneliness. This type of loneliness is often related to childhood wounds or systemic trauma. Neglect, abuse, or any form of trauma can leave you feeling alone deep inside, even when you forge healthy relationships as an adult. You can also experience a sense of disconnect from yourself or from God. You might feel lonely, even when surrounded by others who love you.

In some cases, you might have learned to relate to others from protective parts of yourself, instead of from your God-made core. These parts of you that perform, produce, or please to win the affections of others have good intentions. And, they’ve likely helped you survive past harm. But you’ll experience more of the love and connection you desire by helping those parts of you to soften a bit and trust that the real you is worth knowing. Often, this journey toward healing wounds and connecting more deeply to your God-given core starts with a counselor.

Here are a few ways to care for yourself if you are experiencing one of the types of loneliness called chronic loneliness:

  • Ask for help.

The paradox of loneliness is that we need connection to others on our journey toward meaningful relationships. If the idea of emotional loneliness is new to you, consider working through a healing process with your loneliness, such as the one we write about in Boundaries for Your SoulIt also may be important to explore with a counselor or in a support group. That counselor or support group can provide an anchor for you as you learn how to establish the relationships you desire. If you’re unsure of how to find support, you can find several ideas here.

  • Be gentle with yourself.

Your loneliness isn’t your fault. It may be that you were brought up in an enmeshed or toxic family, that you struggled to connect with your peers, or were part of a marginalized group. Instead of beating yourself up for your loneliness, extend compassion toward that part of you that still carries that pain. It’s a cue that some part of you maybe never felt seen, heard, or accepted. Remember, awareness is the first step toward healing. You were designed for connection—it makes sense that this lonely part of you is showing up to get your attention.

  • Get curious about your loneliness.

Seek to understand more about yourself and your relationship to loneliness. For example, you might ask yourself these questions:

When do I feel less lonely?

When do I feel more lonely?

What’s an early memory of loneliness?

What’s an early memory of feeling seen and connected?

Don’t censor yourself as you become more aware. Just notice. Your answers might be surprising to you. As Dallas Willard said, “Understanding is the basis of care.”

  • Invite God into your loneliness.

As you gently engage the various types of loneliness, you are connecting more authentically with yourself. Invite God into that process, too. He may not take your loneliness away, but he will enter in to your experience with compassion and care. He will give you wisdom on how to say “Yes” to the meaningful connections you were made for.

Each step that you take toward facing your loneliness is a step toward yourself,  toward God, and toward others. Never forget that you have a God who is for you:

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing.

Psalm 68:5-6

This article originally appeared here.