What to do when you feel lonely around people

What to do when you feel lonely around people

I could be sitting with a group of friends, talking, laughing, eating, having a great time. But somehow I feel as though I’m not really there. I don’t feel like I’m ever fully enjoying myself. It feels like something is missing, and that something is me.

Reasons for feeling lonely

Feeling lonely around others can be difficult and confusing. You may also feel isolated. If you cannot connect with yourself, you may have difficulty relating to others. In conversations, you may feel that people don’t really listen to you, or you may feel overlooked and unappreciated in your personal and professional relationships.

Often, any hope for having meaningful relationships diminishes in these moments. This loneliness is often accompanied or exacerbated by a feeling of purposelessness or even restlessness.

Without a focus of what you want from relationships, from yourself and your life, you may feel transient and empty. For expats who have a transient lifestyle anyway, having a strong internal anchor becomes even more crucial!

Steps to feeling better

Here are some strategies you can use to help you feel better.

Build your self-esteem

Yes, you can become more confident! The underlying cause of habitual loneliness is often lack of self-esteem. 

Start a journal: at the end of each day, note the achievements you feel proudest of; these don’t have to be big: perhaps you got to a meeting on time, or made a phone call you’ve been putting off. After only one month, if you go back and review the pages, I guarantee you will be amazed by your qualities and accomplishments.

Change your body language

If you feel invisible, small or insignificant around others, chances are that your body language reinforces this. It’s a vicious cycle! Think about it. Which person are you more likely to be drawn to: someone who stands up straight and tall, speaks clearly, and looks others squarely in the face, or someone who hunches over, mumbles, and avoids making eye contact?

Now’s the time to adjust the way you stand, speak and move around other people. Practise by yourself first, as many times as you need to, until you start to feel more comfortable with your new posture of confidence.

Engage in deeper conversations with those you care about and trust 

Meaningful relationships and interactions are a wonderful and essential way to fill this space of loneliness. I understand this is not always easy to do but it is a skill worth learning. Start with showing real interest in what others are saying, or ask questions like, How did that feel? or What do you think about...?.

Get to know yourself better and find a purpose

Decide on who you are and what kind of person you want to be. Without knowledge of who you are, there is nothing to connect with. It is difficult to feel alone when you have purpose! Find meaning in your life and begin to move in that direction.

If you feel empty, then talk to a professional at once

We recommend counselling if you feel as if you are a witness to yourself, or if there’s a void within that leaves you feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied. A good counsellor can help you find a purpose and move through challenges

So, there you have it, enough ideas to help you get your life back on track!

Vivian  Chiona


Vivian Chiona

Vivian Chiona is the founder and director of Expat Nest (, which provides emotional support to expats and their families through online counseling services. A bicultural, multilingual expat with family...

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