Fast Exit

November 28, 2023 Nov 28, 2023 9 min read

Overcome the Isolation and Loneliness that Results from Trauma: How to Reconnect with People and the World


  • Many people all over the world are feeling lonely. This can be overcome with understanding and efforts to reconnect.
  • Traumatic experiences of child abuse and neglect can undermine your sense of self-worth and make you insecure around people.
  • If you have been sexually abused, you may be burdened with secrets and the belief that no one who has not had that experience will ever understand you. You can overcome this and develop a sense of belonging.
  • Becoming more aware of your negative thoughts can make you more open and confident to join groups, make new friends, and take action to end loneliness.

What is loneliness?

But just being with people is not enough. You can become lonely if you don’t communicate with people in a certain way. You don’t need a lot of people, but you do need a few people you can trust and rely on, people you enjoy and feel safe and good about yourself around.


We all need to be connected to other people. We also need some time alone. Being alone with your own thoughts can center and ground you, and some people need more time alone than others. But we need to have other people in our lives, not only family but also friends and some community.


Right now, there is an epidemic of loneliness in many countries in the world. In the United States, the Surgeon General Vivek Murthy reported that as many as one in four people say they feel lonely. In the United Kingdom, the government has created an official program to help people become less isolated and lonely.


Loneliness is harmful for your mental health and physical health, and it can shorten your life. But there are many ways to overcome loneliness. Often people don’t want to admit how lonely they are. The first thing is to accept how you feel, not judge yourself, and be willing to take action to find the connection you need that will change your life.


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Trauma and loneliness

One of the major reactions to trauma is a tendency to isolate yourself. There are a number of reasons for this.


  1. Childhood neglect or abuse can create a  distorted sense of self-worth and value. You may not be aware of your good qualities and how much you have to offer others.You may not feel likable and fear that people will reject you. Flight is one of the common responses to trauma, making you want to hide.

  2. People who’ve been sexually abused may be holding onto secrets and feeling that there is something different about them that people who haven’t had that experience could never understand.

  3. People who haven’t felt loved and appreciated by their family can feel like they don’t really belong.

  4. Abused children often become very good observers and listeners because they need to watch their abusers carefully to try to avoid painful situations. Trying to accommodate other people becomes a strong skill, but relationships and friendships require that you share more of yourself and not just focus on other people’s needs and preferences.

Once you start isolating yourself, it reinforces itself. You lose the habit of relating to others, and, over time, your fears and expectations of unfriendliness and mistrust grow. This can be reversed as soon as you begin to re-engage with others. You can quickly discover that the world is mostly friendly, and that there are people you will feel in tune with.


Trauma makes you mistrustful and very sensitive to what others say and do. If you’re triggered easily, you may have given up and cut yourself off from people. But if you look at the roots of these feelings and see that you can find new friends, reconnect with old ones, and join a community of like-minded people, you can leave your lonely days behind you.


12 practical steps to overcome loneliness and isolation

Take some practical steps to spend time connecting with people online and especially in person.

  1. The best place to start is by getting involved with some group activities that are connected to your interests. Common interests can be a good foundation for friendships.

  2. Volunteering will help you become more aware of your worth and value. Helping others opens the door to appreciation and gives you immediate rewards. It’s a very good way to find people who care about the same things and have similar values, which is a great basis for connecting on a deeper level for a meaningful relationship.

  3. Attend Social Events: Attend social gatherings, events, or local meetups in your community. Even if it’s challenging at first, putting yourself out there can lead to meaningful connections.

  4. Exercise Regularly: Physical activity can boost your mood and reduce feelings of isolation. Consider joining a fitness class or group sport to combine exercise with social interaction.

  5. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation: Mindfulness techniques can help you manage loneliness by allowing you to stay present and accept your emotions without judgment. Meditation can also reduce stress and anxiety.

  6. Seek Professional Help: If loneliness is persistent and significantly impacting your well-being, consider speaking with a mental health professional. Therapy or counseling can provide valuable support and strategies.

  7. Set Realistic Expectations: Building connections takes time, and not every interaction will lead to a deep friendship. Be patient and open-minded in your social interactions.

  8. Develop Hobbies and Interests: Pursue hobbies or interests that make you happy. Engaging in activities you enjoy can boost your confidence and provide opportunities to meet new people.

  9. Challenge Negative Thoughts: Loneliness can often lead to negative thought patterns. Challenge these thoughts by focusing on positive aspects of your life and setting achievable goals.

  10. Create a Routine: Establish a daily routine that includes activities and interactions with others. Having structure can help combat feelings of isolation.

  11. Consider Adopting a Pet: Pets can provide companionship and emotional support, helping to alleviate feelings of loneliness.

Remember that overcoming loneliness and isolation is a gradual process. 

It’s essential to be patient with yourself and to take small steps toward building meaningful connections. Reaching out to others and seeking professional help when needed can make a significant difference in your journey toward a more fulfilling social life.

It’s important to manage your triggers and accept people as they are. Not everyone is a match, and it can take time to find people you truly trust. If you have had traumatic relationships, rejection can make you feel as if your trauma is being repeated in the present. In those situations, remind yourself that the intensity of your feelings is really about the past.


You may imagine that there is a perfect miraculous relationship that will make up for all you didn’t have and completely heal you. But no one agrees with anyone all the time, and differences and disagreements can be overcome. In fact, working out differences and discussing your feelings when things don’t feel right or you’ve been triggered lead to a stronger bond. Research about long-term marriages and relationships shows that the people who can do this stay connected over time.


Overcoming loneliness calls for listening, sharing, and giving people time and attention. Having just a few people in your life that you trust and care about, and who feel the same about you, will make you much happier and give you the strength you need to live more fully.  


Steps to take to overcome loneliness and isolation

  1. Accept how you feel without shame and with hope. 

  2. Get involved with a group dedicated to something you love to do – sports, art, gardening, helping children or elders, teaching, politics, etc.


  3. Be open to others. Ask questions and listen with attention.


  4. Share some of your thoughts and feelings.


  5. Look for people who share your values and care about the same things.


  6. Don’t expect a perfect match, just a good one.


  7. Be aware of making negative judgments and having low expectations of others based on your past. Take some risks and be optimistic.


  8. Accept your good luck when you meet a true friend, and don’t let past negative beliefs and experiences make you question it.


  9. Treat others with interest, kindness, and respect, and expect the same for yourself.



Isolation and loneliness are harmful to your mental and physical health and well-being. The core of loneliness is not having anyone you can trust, who you can share your thoughts and feelings with, and who you can count on to be there for you in both good and hard times.


If you’ve been traumatized or abused emotionally, physically, or sexually, you may not have a sense of self-worth and feel that you don’t belong. The need to keep secrets and to hide makes it difficult to be open and to share yourself with others.


Loneliness can be overcome when you let go of judging yourself and having negative expectations. The first step is to make the effort to participate in social activities. Following your interests can lead you to like-minded people with whom you have things in common. It can take time to find people you really trust, but you will if you are patient and optimistic.


About The Author

Susan Ellis studied psychology and anthropology at Barnard College and the University of Chicago. She has worked in many aspects of publishing, including editing and marketing scholarly journals, mainstream magazines, and books on psychology and psychoanalysis.  



Overcoming Loneliness and Isolation Journal - Your Guide to Reconnecting with People and the World

The Overcoming Loneliness Journal is a tool to guide you on the path of reconnecting with people and the world. Download and use this journal, either in print or digitally, dedicating a daily moment to explore your thoughts and feelings. By rating your loneliness, identifying triggers, and crafting positive affirmations, each section empowers you to overcome isolation tendencies. With practical coping strategies, an action plan, and daily reflections, this journal becomes your companion in fostering meaningful connections. Consistent use brings progress, so be patient with yourself. We encourage you to seek support when needed. Download now and start a journey to a more connected and fulfilling life.

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