We’ve all felt lonely from time to time. But sometimes, things can get out of hand. Psychologist Guy Winch lays out some straightforward tips to deal with the pain of deep loneliness. Loneliness is a subjective feeling. You may be surrounded by other people, friends, family, workmates — yet still feel emotionally or socially disconnected from those around you. Other people are not guaranteed to shield us against the raw emotional pain that loneliness inflicts.
When Jimmy Ruffin asked, ‘What becomes of the broken-hearted?’ 35 years ago, he could have done with Dr Guy Winch being on hand to offer some answers. The psychologist’s latest book, How To Fix A Broken Heart?, came out this week, just in time to help those who aren’t basking in the joys of love and romance but are nursing an emotional injury he says isn’t that different from a physical one. ‘My first book, Emotional First Aid, was about how we can apply additional self-care to the wounds we sustain in daily life — like failure or loneliness or guilt or rejection,’ says Dr Winch, whose TED Talk on the topic is rated among the top five most inspiring of all time on TED.com.
Self-esteem is a wonderful but delicate thing. When our self-esteem is high, we feel more resilient, we’re less vulnerable to anxiety and rejection, and less cortisol — the stress hormone — is released into our bloodstream. The positives are obvious, but improving self-esteem can be challenging, especially if we’ve experienced setbacks in the past.
Melissa and J.J. met on the finish line of an obstacle course race. “We were both winded and covered in mud yet we still managed to flirt. It felt weirdly authentic,” Melissa told me in our first psychotherapy session. “He was into triathlons and obstacle courses like I was. We had very similar lifestyles.” Melissa and J.J. moved in together after eight months. A year and a half into the relationship, Melissa began raising the issue of marriage. J.J. didn’t feel ready. Soon thereafter, he broke up with her.