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10 Things to Remember When You Feel Lost and Alone

“Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.” ~Sonia Ricotti

I would lie awake at night aching for rest and relief from my racing mind. Hot milk with honey, yoga postures with my feet above my head, no chocolate after three in the afternoon—I had tried it all.

I was weaning myself off sleeping pills. Wrenching myself from my love affair with the tiny white disc. I’d pop it under my tongue to slide from the shackles of adrenaline. They felt impossible to escape.

I’d started using sleeping pills in my last semester of university, having begged my doctor for a prescription to stop the torture of lying awake night after night. One day running straight into the next, and the next, and the next. An endless horror-film loop.

I felt lost.

And alone.

It wasn’t a new feeling. I’d felt that way for years.

I’d lie awake and wonder why I didn’t feel better, wish I could feel like everyone else seemed to—content, confident, happy. Why wasn’t that my life?

And then, one day, I decided to see what else was possible. If I could feel a different way. If I could feel better.

It took time. And patience. Self-exploration. And courage. But I did get there.

If you’re feeling like I felt then, here are ten things to remember.

1. We’re all in this together.

I’ve felt that way. All of my closest friends have felt that way. Family members of mine have felt that way. And, people who read Tiny Buddha—just like you—have felt that way. Or are feeling that way right now.

One day a friend of mine surprised me. She was someone who always seemed positive and upbeat. Always sunny.

I said to her, “Some days I just feel so alone, like nothing is okay.” She said: “Me too.” It made me feel better, and less alone. We’re all in this together.

2. People share the highlights, not the lowlights.

We can feel anxious, sad, and unhappy after going on Facebook or Instagram. We can end up feeling like we don’t have an awesome enough life; like, if we don’t have a glamorous event to photograph and share, we suck.

But people share the highlights, not the lowlights. I’ve talked with so many people whose lives look amazing on Facebook and Instagram who tell me, “I feel sad. I feel like no one cares. I feel alone.”

3. It’s okay to be right where you are.

Sometimes we think we need to be making progress and moving forward, that we need to be a shining ray of light all the time. But the truth is, we need times when we’re pausing.

Those times are often when we feel more lost and alone. We’re figuring things out, re-evaluating what we thought we wanted. It helps to let ourselves rest in the knowledge that this time is natural and normal, rather than tell ourselves we need to be making progress and moving forward.

4. Change happens in the mess.

The truth is that we often can’t feel better until we have a little meltdown. Or a big one. Change means shifting into something different, and to do that we may need to let go of some things and allow them melt away. This can get messy.

I had to let go of the thought that I needed to be what everyone else thought I should be. To do this, I started to notice my thinking, especially thoughts that included the words “should” and “have to.” Then I got myself to question those thoughts: Is that absolutely true? Do you have to?

When I gave myself the time and space to explore those questions, a freedom came. It was the experience of being able to question my own thinking, which helped me see that I didn’t need to believe all of my thoughts. From there, I was able to choose other thoughts. From there, I was able to choose other actions.

That change wouldn’t have happened without me getting messy, having a meltdown, and letting go of some things.

5. New beginnings can feel like endings.

Do you remember a time when you started something new? A new school year? A new summer break? A new relationship?

I bet if you look back you’ll recognize that there was an ending that happened before that new beginning. And during that ending you might have been sad and felt alone. But eventually, those feelings transformed when the ending gave way to a new beginning.

6. It’s easier if you let it be there.

The harder we fight the way we’re feeling, the harder it is to feel that way. The more we let it be there, the easier it gets to feel that way. The feeling no longer feels scary, or like something we need to try to avoid.

And often, as a result, the feeling will fade away. Sometimes quickly. But resisting the feeling can make it feel bigger and harder to handle.

7. Being alone can bring you peace.

When we’re alone, we’re faced with our feelings and our thoughts. It’s harder to distract ourselves.

If we let these times of feeling lost and alone be all that they can be—messy, uncomfortable, hard—we can learn to handle them. We can learn that they don’t need to be avoided. And that helps us feel stronger, like we can handle anything, and that can bring us peace.

8. Feelings can heal you.

All of the emotions that arise when we feel lost and alone can point to what we need to heal within ourselves. They can be like signposts on the road to freedom, saying, “Look over here. Go this way.”

The sadness I felt when I felt most alone was pointing my attention toward expectations I had of myself: that I had to be in a relationship in order to be happy, that I had to be busy and socializing all of the time in order to be like other people, that I had to live an exciting-all-the-time life.

Letting go of those expectations helped me heal those misunderstandings within myself. Without the sadness, I wouldn’t have spotted them.

9. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you.

I hesitated to write this in this way. And I don’t mean it to sound harsh or unfeeling.

Accepting that life is kind of sucky sometimes can help us get through the times where we feel lost and alone. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. It’s just part of being alive.

10. The sun will come out tomorrow.

Okay, I know it might actually rain. But what will happen for sure is that a new day will dawn. And in the dawn of a new day, you might feel better.

Also, be gentle. Be soft. Be caring. We’re all in this together. And there are other people who feel exactly the same way.

Editor’s note: Lindsey has offered to give away two copies of her new book. From Darkness to Light: Devil Wears Prada meets Eat Pray Love. An uplifting story of personal transformation, travel, and starting over. To enter to win a free copy, leave a comment below.

About Lindsey Lewis

As a successful magazine editor, Lindsey Lewis realized her whole life didn’t fit her. She promptly had a quarter life crisis and blew up her entire life. You can read her story in her book From Darkness to Light. Find her at imlindseylewis.com, on Facebook and Twitter @lindsey_lewis.

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  • Tina

    Thank you for that. I needed to hear it. And I would love a copy of your book. 🙂 thanks for sharing.

  • Jake Oreshan

    This is wonderful. My daughter is going through some really tough times and I have shared this with her. Thank you.

  • Angela

    I am in the middle of one of these ‘pauses’, not a pause I came to voluntarily but one that came crashing onto my head one morning. I read your words and I see myself – but I am still having to stretch for the little white disk to get any sort of relief. But now I think I’m beginning to mix trying yoga and calming teas with painful introspection. Posts like this are helping me gradually think about what I need to think about. I’m not there yet, and I’m not sure how long it will take, but thank you for giving my over active, over anxious over thinking brain something positive to rest on.

  • Jeane

    Every message I receive is very insiteful and uplifting. Thank you for sharing what we are all feeling.

  • Diane I. Larabie

    I really needed to read this article today, thank you Lindsay. Very difficult times right now, and trying to manage the consequences of a significant decision I’ve made this weekend.

  • Valentina

    *raises hand* That’s where I am right now: lost and alone. It’s taken me months of struggling and confusion to realize that I do not want to hang out with people right now and I want to spend all my time reading and thinking and that’s ok, no matter what anyone says. Thanks for this lovely and very timely article, Lindsey!

  • kelly

    I’ve found telling myself…it’s always darkest before the dawn, helps me put a time line on my feelings …this to shall pass…short windows of sadness , I can handle…I know it won’t last for ever…

  • Kunal Senani

    Thanks a lot. This is what I was feeling these day. Thanks for this beautiful article amd sharing your experience and guidance to us. I felt peace while reading this. I am so thankful for the peace and serenity for a moment you gave me, by reading this. Thanks. 🙂 lots of love. :’)

  • Rodrigo Rivas

    Wow. This story came right on my transition. I’ve had 2 rough years and I’ve gone through heartbreak, disappointment, loss of friends, loss of good opportunities, and a profound feeling of helplessness and loneliness. And I decided to turn my life around this year. I decided to start loving myself which is something I hadn’t been doing the correct way. In that path I’ve faced some harsh truths about myself. I’m facing my ego for the first time in my life and that is helping to gain peace day by day and develop a better relationship with my parents and friends. I’m learning to learn from my mistakes and not be so hard on myself and other people and learning to honor my voice and my needs. Positive changes have happened 🙂 I’m starting to work on what I love. I’ve met people who help me grow professionally and personally. I’m starting to feel more happy and satisfied about my life and even though I still have some down days. I’m working through it. I’m gonna join a Buddhist school in the upcoming weeks since I wanna meet new people. I wanna have a group of friends since I left so many people on my past. They just drifted away as soon as my transition started. I feel proud and I know good things will continue happening. Don’t give up. 4 months ago I didn’t see any way I would feel good with myself or my life. EVEN LESS ONE YEAR AGO! But I’ve built this day by day. Minute by minute..I still have SO MUCH to work on!

  • Manders

    I am slowly but surely making my way out of a depressive period, and in between the days where I feel like I’ve made it, I have days where I feel exactly like this. Thank you so much for these encouraging and insightful words. 🙂

  • Renee Sarah Marie Morris

    Thank you for this article. It’s really important to keep reading and remembering the advice of sitting with your feelings, and that it’s ok.

  • Wow…really needed this post today…makes me feel so much better because when you are in those moments, you do feel like you are the only one feeling those feelings:)

  • Susan Christian

    Wonderful post. Just what I needed to hear right now.

  • Love this! I especially need to work on #6… just letting it be as it is. So hard, but so vital. Thank you for your lovely post!

  • Kristin Kollinger

    Would love a copy of this book, Lindsey! Have been exactly where you describe and your book title totally resonated with me as Eat, Pray, Love is my favorite movie/book!

  • Paraskeve Fellas

    Thank you for these beautiful words. They came to me exactly at the right moment. The blur from my tears faded, I read the post and no longer felt alone.

  • beck

    I’ve let it be there for quite a while now! Still, a timely article (wipes eyes). Thanks.

  • pruthvi

    Buddha has said thousand years ago that “Dont dwell in the fast,dont think of the future that has yet to come,be in the present”.but stuck in the past ,worrying for the future ,has made me loner and i am realized how others also feel the same way feeling lost .thank you very much for your precious article which is like a lamp which guides others in darkness of lonliness……

  • I totally relate to this article. I had to be away from everything and everyone that was familiar in order to fall apart and fix some old wounds. It’s not easy, but sometimes you have to be alone in order to do it, to take a good look at yourself. Terrific article! Will share.

  • tessan

    Great post, so much to think about. Even though I know I’m not alone it’s always great to be reminded. The sun will shine tomorrow!

  • Miss Taylor

    Thank you! I SO needed to read that!

  • FictionalxFantasies

    Great post! Can’t wait to read her book!

  • Adrienne Albright Lehtinen

    I’d be interested in reading this as a 40-something going through major life transitions.

  • Irishmel46

    Good words to read & we often forget the things you have said and all expect too much of ourselves and when one thing goes wrong we or I tend to think of all the bad things and give myself a hard time..but now am going to be positive and think to heck with it, we learn by our mistakes and we are all human..It is the way other can be harsh and speak to me at times and I am a more sensitive soul, that I maybe take it to heart and more personal..I was told today at work am too nice..but rather be like that than come across cold towards others…good to read all the other comments, wishing everyone well and peace within as that is the most important thing in life

  • :Troi.

    This article really speaks to me and my recent struggles. I could dearly use the insight offered by this book. When you don’t know anybody to turn to, you need to turn to people you don’t know.

  • It does suck to feel lonely and lost, but I too agree that those low moments serve a purpose. If we let them, they can guide us back towards the lit path.

  • Carly

    Can’t tell you how much I needed to read this today. Thank you and can’t wait to read your book!

  • FoxWhisperer

    Not sure it helped. I think I just need sleeping pills now…

  • KeiraKnows

    Thank you so much, I needed this right now.

  • Rob

    To feel alone is to put oneself at the center of the universe. It feeds the ego, but there’s a high price to pay, the suffering of isolation. We resist abandoning the facade of self and are unwilling to appreciate being connected intimately with every person on Earth.

  • Monsterbite

    Wow, that’s deep. I concur with your words Rob. Suddenly life seems so plain in sight and I’m sitting watching it go by not being in it.

  • Touya Shinjitsu

    Sometimes you feel so alone that you start tearing.

  • Sheila Niland

    I truly feel that I have no friends at all. I am always lonely lately. I have a bad back and walking is tough. The situation with my back has just surfaced from bad to worse. I just feel so down.

  • Seanna

    I have always felt ..different. Never fulfilled my true potential and now at 51 only after my father died suddenly have I woken up and realised death can happen anytime to us all. This realisation coupled with grief (yet he died 2 years ago) and anger and resentment is making me so sad.. But your advice of just going with it and being in this place I am in and not fighting it has helped a bit. I have always felt judged by people, maybe I was the one judging?!

  • Julia

    Thank you, so well written and I finally let myself cry, I needed this!

  • Shadow of the light.

    I have been living in my own dark cloud of dread and agony of living such a pitiful disinterested life, even when I seek to become better I hate myself for trying and I sink deeper while still becoming more like the rest of the normal world. My problem with the rest of the world is they set people with labels, and I dispise the ignorant blissful lives they live. Yet I live it with them, and I’m still sinking so far, so deep and it only feels more suffocating by the day. I reject every thought to end the conflict, in order to keep my visage intact even though I’m infected with dread and agony.

  • Shadow of the light.

    This is not your best course of action of you feel as I do, break the endless painful loop.

  • Jon

    Thank you so much for this!