As universal as Loneliness is, (a 2018-2020 survey revealed 60% of Americans struggle with loneliness; that figure climbs to 75% among younger people and this was PRE pandemic data) it is surprising to me how little we actually talk about it as a culture. Over the years, in relation to clients and my own life, I have thought about Loneliness a ton. I have examined it in myself and been particularly curious about why I experience loneliness even when I have a wonderful partner, a loving and supportive family, a rewarding career and a community of friends who I count on. Through my own deep inner work, I began to truly see and feel that my own challenges of truly knowing, loving and accepting myself contributed to that feeling for myself and interfered with my ability to connect and love others and to show up in ways that felt authentic, no matter the setting I was in. My personal journey, as well as what I have learned from the clients I have worked with, has led to me to develop the concept of Ordinary Loneliness, which in my mind can encompass chronic or situational loneliness, but is actually more ubiquitous and a quintessential part of being human. In my blog today, I will to define Ordinary Loneliness, as I have come to understand it, and identify a simple framework to support the soothing of Ordinary Loneliness. The essential result of this soothing is to feel more KNOWN to oneself, thereby being more deeply known to others, hence feeling less lonely. The path I have outlined towards that includes 3 simple concepts: Let be, Let go and Let in.

Ordinary Loneliness defined

Before we jump in to how to soothe Ordinary Loneliness, I will share how I define it. Essentially it is that ache or twinge inside that we are inadequate as a human. That feeling that we are not good enough, simply as we are. Adding to it, the feeling that no one else experiences that sense of self doubt, or lacking of knowing and that my pain is unique to me, thereby demonstrating my unique inadequacy. It is also that separation that we feel from other humans, that disconnection when we feel misunderstood, or unknown to others, coupled with a longing to connect that often feels out of reach. I would expand upon that to include that feeling that comes upon us often in the setting of work or in relationships that we simply are not good enough, often highlighted by our comparisons to others in those settings. The feeling that we are inadequate as a human and do not meet the expectations of either ourselves, or other people. Sometimes this feeling is persistent, and often is is fleeting, but ever returning. Imposter syndrome is the closest I have come to describing this in the past, but my definition of Ordinary Loneliness encompasses more of a deep sense of disconnection and loneliness that is generally not included in the definition of imposter syndrome.

Ordinary Loneliness can be so insidious that it is often there lurking and we do not even recognize both its universality and its corrosive damage. The thing about Ordinary Loneliness is that it keeps coming back, even when we try to ignore it, until we are able to break that cycle and become more known to ourselves. Beginning to untangle this starts with becoming KNOWN to ourselves. Accepting and loving ourselves fully, as we are, but to do that we must look.


Where does it come from?

Often the roots of Ordinary Loneliness are the negative beliefs, thoughts and feelings that we have about ourselves. For some, they come from messages we have received growing up about who you should be, which then get reinforced by experiences in life and then we hold onto them. For some, they come from society and the expectations it places us on. Those could be based on our experiences in relationships related to how are family of origin views relationship, or from societies gender or racial stereotypes, or our experiences in school or the work environment. These things can then get reinforced by social media, or media in general, depending on what we partake in. For some, their Ordinary Loneliness may be rooted in more serious things, like verbal or physically abusive parenting. This could show up as being told we are not good enough repeatedly, either directly or indirectly, or being harmed physically. Ordinary Loneliness can then develop into clinical depression, or anxiety if not addressed, which appears to be happening in our country at alarming rates.


3 ways to Soothe Ordinary Loneliness

1. Let Be

We tend to live life in the past, holding on to feelings and beliefs about ourself and fixating on regrets or longing for do overs. This takes us away from the present moment, both the pleasures and the pain that exist right now. The first step in soothing Ordinary Loneliness is to acknowledge the feelings exist, and to to feel what it feels like to allow yourself to be with feelings, however you are able to. We spend so much time in our lives trying to avoid painful feelings that for some, feeling fully can be quite difficult. “Letting be” is different than one might describe “wallowing” in pain. It is more like noticing and, as I call it, welcoming, or allowing. Do your best to take it beyond your thoughts and allow yourself to feel what it feels like in your body, to see what emotions it brings up and to notice and be with those as they arise. If this feels hard, try placing your hand on your heart to comfort yourself and say “this will pass”, which is will, as all intense feelings do, eventually. You might notice, just in that welcoming, the intensity starts to shift and lessen, even if just a little. That is the power of Letting Be. Along with the principle of letting be, is the idea that we are not our thoughts, feelings, or limiting beliefs. So when a painful thought, feeling or limiting belief arises, we can allow ourselves to be with it and notice it passing, but recognize that is is not us.

2. Let Go

If you would like to go a bit deeper and build upon Letting Be, it can be helpful to identify what thoughts, feelings, beliefs or memories might be contributing to this feeling of Ordinary Loneliness. Often we notice there are patterns of thoughts, feelings and limiting beliefs that continue to arise, sort of like themes in our lives. Some of the common ones I have heard from people I work with are: “I have to work harder, otherwise I do not have value”, or “I must pretend to be someone else in relationships, because who will like me if I act like myself”, or “I am too much for people”, or “I am too loud”,or “I am too quiet”. These beliefs are usually attached to feelings, so if we are able to identify a belief that keeps spinning for us, we can usually identify a feeling attached to it and by noticing, welcoming and allowing that feeling, related to out belief, to be present we can then decide to Let Go of the feelings associated with that belief, just in that very moment, or each moment it arises. While at first it may seem silly to let go of something just for a moment, the repetition of that process can provide great relief. Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself!

3. Let in

Once we have acknowledged what is and allowed it be as it is, and we have started to let go of beliefs and feelings that no longer serve us and we can start to Let In what is useful and healing. This is where self compassion and gratitude can be very helpful. There are various ways to “Let in” what is good, one is through the method I describe in a previous blog that is to allow yourself to sit with good feelings in a very intentional way. Neuroscience has demonstrated that allowing good feelings to resonate in our bodies can actually change our brain to think and feel more positively over time, to combat the negativity bias that is human instinct. Another way to “Let in” is to bring in self compassion. A simple way to do that is to ask yourself what you might say to a friend who is suffering the way you are in a particular moment, or period and specifically say those things you would say to a friend to yourself, right now. Another way is to identify the things that you feel grateful for, even when they are small, and allow yourself to FEEL that gratitude, not just think it. Many find that writing down things they are grateful for is helpful, however, I would encourage taking it further to allow the wash of gratitude to take over your body, not just your mind. Allow it to physically warm you, comfort you in any way that feels real for you.



Ordinary Loneliness is so common that it is easy to dismiss, sweep under the rug, accept as part of the human condition, which in some ways, we must do. However, I have found for myself, and in my work supporting clients, that there is another way. We can find a sense of ease and peace by looking inward and using these tools to ease this experience of Ordinary Loneliness to become more known to ourselves and perhaps others as well. Our deep desire to be known, heard, seen and understood by both ourselves and others is primal. But it takes a mindset shift to see that you have the power to shift your relationship to the outer world by looking inward and allowing your inner wisdom to guide and nourish you. Give it a try, if you like. If you would like support with this, you can also reach out to me, or another therapist who can assist with this.

Remember, you are not alone. You have you.



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