I just read the old classic Lonely but Never Alone by the Puerto Rican Man of God Nicky Cruz (the guy from The Cross and the Switchblade). A great book that ministered to me personally - I have a tendency at times to get stuck in things that have happened, feel sorry for myself and to withdraw.
Nicky Cruz explains how loneliness can become a negative spiral ending up as a prison but he also shares how to break loose from that spiral. Here is a brief summary of the book:
Most often loneliness comes as a result of rejection, i.e. being rejected and abandoned. Of course this hurts and you end up sad and hurt. At times you can succeed to move on but other times this will lead to self pity and the negative spiral has begun.
Self pity can lead to depression and when everything is pitch black it is hard to be positive. The negativity of a depressed person pushes away people that want to help and the spiral continues.
The lonely person gets lonelier as the people around her give up and finally there is isolation and abandonment. This cements the feeling of rejection and it becomes permanent. The lonely person walks round and round in the exercise yard of their own prison with their head hanging low. Stuck. Isolated. Sad. Abandoned. Alone.
Loneliness and isolation is terrible. To feel sorry for oneself after being rejected and abandoned is totally normal and bound to happen and something that must happen. The Bible clearly states that there is a time for everything - even to cry. To be sad and cry is sound after a major setback or life crisis. But when you get stuck in your self pity it leads a person that once rightfully was a victim to a person that now is self-destructive and bound.
When you dwell and dwell on it, someone else’s sin will eventually become your own sin. It was not your fault but it became your problem as you would not let go of the injustice and move on. Often, this is the main root of loneliness, isolation and resignation.
But Nicky Cruz also shares about a way to break free from that prison.
2) Forgive those that have hurt you once and for all. Forgive for their sake, but maybe more so for your own sake. You will be free! (Matt 6:12)
3) Break free from selfishness and self-absorption. Every conversation does not need to be about you and your problems. Try not to dominate every conversation but instead try to learn to listen. Otherwise you will risk loosing your friends since they will no longer want to listen to you and therefore they choose to avoid you. To focus on others, and to listen to their concerns instead will make your own problems smaller.
4) To not inflate and enlarge all the challenges in life. Let go and live life with a breeze instead.
5) Break free from a bitter and critical spirit once and for all. The critical spirit is contagious and will get into every relationship and destroy them. It is highly contagious and will influence others as well negatively.
In this way you can have a positive spiral instead. Your joy will return. Your positive spirit will light up your soul. You will begin to speak encouragement and to see others again. The simple stuff in life will once again brighten your day and make you happy. Happy, laughing people seldom stay lonely for long. They are like magnets.
The positive leads to more positive. Joy leads to more joy and will give birth to lifelong friendship. (Phi 4:4, 1 Thes 5:18)
Read Nicky Cruz book - it is very self-examining and full of hope. I warmly recommend it to all who struggle with rejection.