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No Family, No Friends: How to Cope With Being Alone

Gabrielle Applebury
Sad Woman Sitting On Bed At Home

Whatever the particular reason may be for you feeling lonely, know that there are healthy ways to cope when you feel like you don't have any family or friends. Better understanding the reasons as to why you are feeling lonely can be immensely helpful as you work through this process.

No Family No Friends

Linking back to the primal brain, social connectedness is an aspect of the human drive for survival, with social rejection being innately discouraged as the brain experiences pain equivalent to a physical injury when these incidents occur. With the tendency to move away from this type of pain, socialization is further encouraged on an automatic level, making it an important aspect of the basic human needs, along with food, shelter, and warmth. The absence of feeling connected can lead to stress, mental health issues, and physical health issues. If you are feeling lonely, there are proactive steps you can take.

Processing Negative Core Beliefs

If you are feeling lonely, you may experience some negative beliefs about yourself which may leave you feeling even more disconnected and subsequently isolating yourself more as this pervasive cycle continues. Perseverating over having no friends or family members to connect with can bring up thoughts of feeling not good enough, being unlovable, and feeling rejected. To identify your negative belief(s) regarding feeling alone or lonely:

  • Begin with a neutral statement about your social situation (for example, "I don't have any friends or family members").
  • Next, ask yourself what this means about you (for example, "I'm alone").
  • Continue to ask yourself what your previous statement means about you (for example, "Being alone means that no one wants to connect with me").
  • When you finally get down to one statement and feel as if there is nothing beneath it, this is your core negative belief (for example, "I'm unlovable").

Identifying negative core beliefs can be draining work, so take your time and be patient with yourself. Negative core beliefs often arise out of childhood or early memories and can be very difficult to challenge as they operate on a largely unconscious level.

Reframe Your Negative Core Beliefs

Work on reframing your negative core belief regarding loneliness. Doing so can help you understand the why behind your social disconnection in some circumstances. For example: Instead of, "I have no family or friends", the healthier statement could be, "I'm beginning to examine my difficulties with socializing and am working towards building healthy relationships." Whenever the negative thoughts about loneliness start to take over, remind yourself of your healthier statement until it becomes a more habitual thought.

Practicing Self-Care

On an unconscious level, people tend to attract others with similar levels of mental wellbeing. Practicing healthy self-care is not only good for your own health and wellness, but it may also draw other emotionally healthy individuals to you versus others who may end up being unreliable and/or hurtful as friends or partners. Take some time to get to know your own self-care needs until you come up with a solid routine.

Young woman practicing yoga at home

Explore Your Socializing Needs

Everyone will have their own unique socialization needs. This means that what may feel like solid connection to one person may not be fulfilling for another. While some people feel connected texting, chatting in online forums, or writing blog posts, others may need in-person interaction to feel connected. To better understand your socializing needs, ask yourself:

  • Do you feel connected after chatting with someone via social media?
  • Do you prefer phone calls or texting?
  • How long does a fulfilling conversation last, at minimum?
  • Do you feel connected to others after posting your work or thoughts online?
  • Do you feel connected after posting something anonymously?
  • How do you typically feel after an in-person conversation?

Setting Personal Socialization Goals

Once you've figured out your social needs, set a few attainable goals for yourself and once completed, continue to build upon them. Some goals may be:

  • Joining an online forum of interest
  • Posting in an online forum once a week
  • Re-connecting with a former friend who you lost touch with
  • Joining an online or in person group or club
  • Participating in an academic or creative class
  • Joining a book club
  • Connecting with one new person a week
Chef assisting a cooking class

Understanding Your Roadblocks

While there may be reasons outside of your control that can influence your social life, you may also have some personal difficulties that feel challenging to overcome. Some may include:

  • Mental health diagnosis or symptoms- can make connecting with others feel incredibly difficult and at times impossible depending on the specific diagnosis and symptoms
  • Introverted nature- you may find that too much socialization feels exhausting but are having a hard time finding others who really get you
  • Unhealthy family system- you may have experienced unhealthy attachment patterns growing up and struggle to connect with trustworthy individuals who you can rely on
  • Loss of friends and family- your friends and family members may have passed away, leaving you feeling as if you're starting from scratch when it comes to meeting new people

Seeking Help

If you are estranged, disconnected, and/or have friends and family members who have passed away, it can lead to some very painful feelings. If you have identified your own roadblocks but are having a hard time working through difficult feelings or meeting emotionally healthy individuals, you may consider finding a therapist who can assist you in processing what you're experiencing. If you are having thoughts of self harm, or thoughts of harming others, reach out for help right away. Getting yourself to an emotionally healthy place is the first step in making healthy connections with others.

Woman going to therapy

How to Be Happy When You Have No Family or Friends

Happiness is an emotion that is unique to each individual. It may take time for you to figure out what makes you happy in terms of your social life. To begin the process of exploring what makes you happy:

  • Take time to grieve the loss of your relationships or the relationships you wish you had. Processing your feelings can help you move forward while taking the time to acknowledge your emotional process.
  • Understand how often and in what way you'd like to connect with others to feel socially satisfied. Understanding your needs is a great start in cultivating relationships.
  • Explore activities and opportunities that you feel drawn to.
  • Take time to get to know yourself and what your needs are.

Is It Normal to Have No Friends?

About 30% of Millennials report feeling always or almost always lonely, while Generation X comes in at 20% and Baby Boomers at 15%. While the majority of human beings crave social connectedness, there are some that don't find it fulfilling for one reason or another. Everyone is different and will have their own unique social needs when it comes to friendships. While there is no "normal", it's important that you explore what feels best for you when it comes to relationships.

What Happens When You Have No Family?

Whether you have lost your family as a child or adult, there are ways to cope with not having any remaining family members. This may mean that they passed away or you're estranged from them. Whatever your unique reason or experience is, not having a family can feel incredibly difficult, isolating, and painful for some individuals. If you don't have a family, know that you can create your own by surrounding yourself with healthy and supportive individuals who care about you. Give yourself permission to define what family means to you.

Loneliness Versus Being Alone

Loneliness is wanting to connect but being unable to for some reason. Being alone means that for reasons outside of your control, you are without the connection to others. Being alone can also mean that you do have some connection to others but internally feel alone, even in the presence of others. If you are lonely, you may want to take a more proactive approach when it comes to connecting with others, while those who feel alone may want to do some internal reflection and processing.

What to Do When You Have No Family or Friends

Feeling lonely can come with unique challenges depending on the circumstances. Better understanding why you are feeling lonely can help you work towards processing your given situation.

No Family, No Friends: How to Cope With Being Alone