Inside: If you’re a lonely mum, then this guide is for you. It’s packed with practical tips to help you overcome loneliness and find the friendship and happiness you deserve.
For some, loneliness during motherhood can be excruciating. While some mums quickly and easily find their mummy tribe, others feel isolated and excluded. This is a difficult subject for me to write about because I have been there and know how painful it can be.
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When I had my first two kids in my early twenties, I was blessed to have the most wonderful group of mums in my life. We supported each other through thick and thin – at times, they were my lifeline. But I moved away, and when I had my third child ten years later, the isolation and loneliness I felt were often unbearable.
Table of Contents
- You’re Not Alone
- How to Stop Being a Lonely Mum: 6 Proven Strategies
- Some Final Thoughts
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You’re not alone
The statistics are staggering
I know now that I wasn’t alone. In 2017, a massive 90% of British mums admitted that they were lonely since having children. If only I had known that at the time and had found the courage to connect with some of them.
In turning to the internet for advice, I quickly came across endless posts about lonely mums and tips on how to beat loneliness with instructions on how to ‘build your mom village’ and ‘join the local toddler group.’
But for me, this was certainly easier said than done. I felt intimidated by the groups of mums who gelled together so effortlessly. I envied their closeness and wished they would take me into their fold. But why did I feel like such an outsider, convinced I didn’t belong and that they would reject me if I tried to join them?
What really made me a lonely mum
I know now that the demons I battled were low self-esteem, social anxiety and fear of rejection. If I’m honest, the seeds of these were planted in my childhood. But the situation I found myself in when I became a mum for the third time, away from my friends and in a new area, left me vulnerable. It was a perfect breeding ground for all these old anxieties to flourish.
Maybe you can relate? Wonderful as motherhood can be, it can also make us lose our identity as women. Many of us battle with post-natal depression, sleep deprivation and isolation.
If, like me, you struggle to find a close-knit group of mums to join, life can be incredibly difficult and lonely. Maybe you find the cliques at the school gate intimidating. I know I did. The idea of approaching them was unthinkable, never mind inviting any of them over for a coffee.
So rather than focusing on joining the local toddler group or book club to make friends, why don’t we address what the real issues are: low self-esteem, social anxiety and fear of rejection. But how do we do this? After years of working on these issues myself, here are some nuggets of advice which I hope help you as much as they did me.
how to stop being a lonely mum: 6 Proven strategies
Deal with your inner critic
We all have one; that destructive voice in our head which endlessly criticises and does its best to rip us to shreds, especially in our most fragile and vulnerable moments. It encourages self-defeating behaviour and destroys our self-esteem. It causes us to develop cynical attitudes towards others, believing them to be judgmental and hostile. Our critical inner voice demands that we see the world in a very negative and pessimistic light.
What we fail to realise is that our inner voice lies to us constantly. But most of us accept its ramblings as truth. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is your conscience, which is a positive influence on your life. The critical inner voice is instead demeaning and instils self-hatred. It does all it can to convince you that you deserve to be a lonely mum, which is not true.
To silence your inner critic, you first have to become consciously aware of it and the lies it tells you. Notice when you suddenly become upset or slip into a bad mood. Ask yourself what caused your shift in mindset? What just happened, and what did you start telling yourself as a response? Be aware that an unkind comment from your inner voice can often trigger this.
If you started internally attacking yourself, then the chances are that you started seeing the situation through the lens of your critical inner voice. Analyse what it is trying to get you to do and if this is self-sabotaging. In this way, you can take back control by consciously deciding not to listen and instead choose actions that you know are in your best interests.
So, when your critical inner voice next tells you that ‘nobody likes you’ and that you should avoid a particular person, recognise that for the lie that it is, make eye contact and smile. You never know – that small act of connection may lead to a new friendship.
By choosing to ignore our critical inner voice, we can stop the self-defeating behaviour it advocates, be kinder to ourselves and allow our self-esteem to grow.
Have a different conversation with yourself
After years of endlessly bombarding yourself with harsh words, it’s time to start an entirely different, more positive conversation with yourself. This might sound unachievable, but with a little effort and perseverance, you can do it. This will transform your relationship with yourself, nourish your self-esteem, and reform how you connect with the world around you.
Start by building some self-appreciation into your life. Each day, ask yourself what three things you like about yourself. Take time to quietly focus on and engage with this, perhaps writing your responses in a journal. You’ll be amazed how this small act of self-care can shift your mindset, helping you to value and accept yourself.
Speak to yourself as you would a close friend or somebody you admire and care about. This will help to quieten your inner critic and allow you to be more compassionate and kind to yourself instead.
As you start to treat yourself more kindly, your belief in your ability to make friends will change. Your confidence will grow and you will find it easier to engage with others around you.
Use affirmations to alter how you see yourself
Affirmations are positive statements a person can deliberately and repeatedly tell themselves to help overcome negative thoughts and self-sabotaging behaviour. This may seem like a quirky way to develop self-esteem, but psychotherapist, Dr Ronald Alexander explains that affirmations work because they can programme the mind into believing a stated concept. They affect both the conscious and subconscious minds, which in turn alter the way people think and behave.
To use affirmations effectively, first reflect on the areas of your life about which you have been most self-critical. Perhaps you have repeatedly told yourself that people don’t like you, or that you are an outsider and will never be accepted by a group. Then construct positive affirmations to actively contradict these limiting self-beliefs.
So, to counter the thoughts mentioned above, a suitable affirmation might be, “Others see the good in me and want to be my friend”, “I’m worthy of friendship” or “I am attracting warm, kind and friendly people into my life – I will no longer be a lonely mum.”
Take time to speak these affirmations out loud for about five minutes, three times a day if possible. Look in the mirror, if you can, to help to reinforce the affirmation. See the person in the reflection as someone who loves you, like a good mother, who only wants the best for you. If you can’t speak out loud, try writing them down several times in a notebook.
Self-critical thoughts can cause physical pain, perhaps an anxious tightening in our chest, or a knot in our stomach, and undoing the damage caused can also cause discomfort. As you repeat your affirmations, place a hand over any part of your body which feels ill at ease as you speak. Consciously ‘breathe’ into the affirmation as you repeat it. This will help you to fully embody it as real, rather than it just being an external concept.
I know it sounds weird but trust me. Using positive affirmations in this way can alter your self-perception. This changes the way you project yourself, making you warm and approachable to others. By radiating positive energy, you can attract some amazing people into your life.
Focus on what you have to gain
Whatever you focus on in life is what you manifest. If you preoccupy yourself with thoughts of isolation and rejection, then that is likely to be what you attract. Instead, when you next have the opportunity to smile and chat with someone, don’t allow yourself to fixate on the possibility of rejection. Focus instead on what you could gain.
If nothing else, you will be able to walk away proud that you put your fears aside and engaged with another person. You never know, it could be the beginning of a friendship that you would never have had if you hadn’t been brave and stepped out. Perhaps she’s also a lonely mum in need of a friend.
People relate to vulnerability
All too often, we put tremendous energy into hiding our insecurities, afraid to show our vulnerabilities. But we forget that everyone feels fragile about something and being vulnerable makes us relatable. So, let people see the real you. It will help others relax and make you easier to connect with. The ability to be honest and vulnerable is a strength and not a weakness. It will be one of the most attractive things about you.
Trust your ability to cope
Nobody likes to be rejected, but don’t let this stop you from instigating conversations or perhaps inviting a new friend over for a cuppa. What’s the worst that could happen? They might say no. Unlikely as that is, it would perhaps be awkward and make you feel sad. But believe that if you get knocked down, you’ll get up again.
You are resilient and can cope with far more than you believe you can. Remember that although rejection won’t break you, regret might.
It’s important to realise that rejection is part of life. The only way to avoid it is to live a safe half-life, where you take no risks but also reap none of the rewards. You need and deserve so much better than that.
Striving for anything you want in life comes with a potential risk. By avoiding risk, you may also lose out on something wonderful coming into your life. If someone rejects you, it may hurt for a while, but it won’t hurt forever. You can and must trust your ability to cope.
Being a lonely and isolated mum can be unbearable. The lies we tell ourselves and our fear of rejection can be so overpowering, making us retreat and hide from life in case we get hurt. But I hope I’ve given you a little insight into how you can adopt a new attitude, treat yourself with compassion and turn things around to attract some genuine friendship into your life.
Related post>>> How to Have a Happy Family: 45 Top Secrets to Success
some Final Thoughts
If you feel comfortable doing so, I’d love to hear about your experiences and strategies for overcoming loneliness. It’s only through sharing that we can connect, help and support each other.
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Thanks for reading,