Have you been lonely lately?
Does it seem that you could be in a room filled with people and yet feel completely unseen and isolated?
Loneliness is an aspect of life that most people experience at one point or another. Feeling lonely and being alone are not necessarily the same thing. A person can be married or in a loving relationship, surrounded by family and friends, yet be lonely on some level. Others may live a solitary life and yet feel content.
Loneliness is often the difference between the emotional connections you long for and that which you have in life. A lonely season might be brought on for a variety of reasons, like social discomfort, low self-esteem, and life changes, such as moving, retiring, or the loss of a loved one.
Unfortunately, poor coping mechanisms can exasperate the problem further. Overeating, oversleeping, reminiscing about better seasons, or withdrawing to avoid rejection will do nothing to address the real issue at hand.
Instead, if you find yourself battling loneliness, try to implement one of these strategies:
1. Seek personal growth. Focusing on self-care and development can minimize feelings of loneliness.
- Practice affirming self-talk. Remind yourself of your positive attributes and the friendships you have maintained in the past. As negative ideas and doubt creep in, challenge those thoughts with kind and encouraging truth.
- Take time to evaluate and set goals. Consider if there are any new habits you want to build or changes you might make that would increase your confidence when connecting with others. Do you want to cut back on gossip? Begin exercising regularly? Update your wardrobe?
- Develop stronger social skills. You could read a book or take a class to feel more secure in social interactions, or you could be intentional about practicing. Make efforts to improve as an active listener, with your significant other, but also with friends and new acquaintances. Strike up short conversations while out and about, getting a haircut, in line at the bank, or picking up groceries.
2. Connect with new friends or strengthen your current relationships.
- Sign up for the next volunteer opportunity in your community or through your church. Look for outreaches that appeal to you. This will get you out of your house, give a sense of renewed purpose, and offer a chance to meet people with similar interests. Consider enlisting your partner to come along, if they are looking for some of the same things.
- Attempt to develop a hobby that will involve others. Join a running club, a yoga class, community choir, or Bible Study. Consider what pursuits already draw your attention and find others with similar pastimes.
- Look over your contact list. Who have you lost touch with that might be a good friend to reach out to and catch up with? Ask your significant other for suggestions- (s)he might be feeling just as lonely and want to have mutual friends over for dinner.
3. Set a plan.
- Don’t wait until you feel motivated to make changes. Instead, create a list of steps to deal with this loneliness, complete with deadlines. Often, acting will jumpstart your emotions, and they will follow suit.
If you try the suggestions above and do not see any improvement, it might be beneficial to utilize a counselor or coach to offer additional perspective and create a more comprehensive plan to overcome the lingering loneliness.
Although everyone deals with some degree of isolation at some point in this life, you don’t need to settle there. Take intentional steps to increase your self-worth and revitalize your social life today! As you reach out and make new connections, you just might find there’s a world of people looking to do the same.