Today you wouldn't think that people would be lonely in the digital age but they are. Here are some ways to cope with this feeling and feel less lonely.
Loneliness is something that we all experience sometimes, even if we’re perfectly content to be alone at times. It’s something we can deal with in a healthy way too. However, we must first understand that loneliness is a complex mental and emotional phenomenon that’s based on a powerful emotion that has survival value. Fortunately, there are several healthy ways you can choose to combat this feeling.
Realize Loneliness is a Feeling, not a Fact
You feel lonely when something triggers a memory of that feeling. It isn’t because you’re alone or isolated. It’s because your brain is designed to pay attention to pain and danger – including scary feelings like loneliness, which gets our attention. When this happens, your brain will try to make sense of the feeling. It will try to decide why you’re feeling this way – whether it’s because nobody loves you, you’re a loser, or everyone is being mean to you. Unfortunately, you can see how easily some of these theories can become confused with facts. This only causes a bigger problem than if you were to simply acknowledge your feeling and try to accept it without overreacting to it.
Since loneliness is painful, it can confuse you and make you think that you’re an outcast. When this happens, you may react by withdrawing into yourself, your thoughts and your lonely feelings. Your Tango says this really isn’t helpful. Instead, we should reach out and cultivate friendships - the healthiest thing we can do when feeling sad and alone. Other people can provide you with the comfort you need when you’re crying because you’re sad.
Notice Your Self-Defeating Thoughts
As children, we tend to create self-centred stories to explain our feelings. Many children will even go so far as to assume that there’s something wrong with them when they’re unhappy. When feeling lonely and sad, children may assume other people don't like them though this is rarely true. Even victims of bullying have friends. They simply don’t recognize them as easily since their shame and loneliness draw more attention. Habitual assumptions about social status continue into adulthood where there’s always some evidence available that the world sucks.
Plan how to Fight Loneliness’ Mental and Emotional Habits
Once you realize you’re dealing with an emotional habit, it’s easier to decide how you’ll fight it. Part of your plan should include reaching out to other people and initiate a conversation (even through FaceTime) since healthy interaction with friends is good. While this does take some work, it’s just as worthwhile as exercising is when you feel tired or lazy.
Focusing on Others’ Needs and Feelings
By changing your focus you won’t have time to dwell on your own thoughts and feelings of loneliness. How you choose to interact with the world around you truly changes how you feel about your own life. Of course, sometimes you’ll need to make a conscious decision for this to happen, but it’s still worthwhile.
Find Other People Like Yourself
There are a lot of great tools available today to help you find other knitters, hikers, kiteboarders, or other hobbyists are congregating. You can also partner up with adult chat sites when you don’t feel like going out and meeting these people. The point is: Find someone with whom you have something in common. You never know when you may find a new friend (even if they’re online) simply by doing so.
Always Show up for Social Engagements
You don’t have to become the social highlight of an event, but you do need to attend the event. While this means you may have to go out of your way to find these events, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how enjoyable they are once you do find and start attending them. Do whatever it takes to make sure you do so – even if this means setting a reminder in your phone so you don’t become a permanent member of the procrastinator's society.
Think of each social event as a micro-adventure in social bonding. As such, you will need to have some curiosity and interest in other people. Without this people won’t be attracted to you and you may not even attend the event, to begin with. However, by showing up and showing interest you’ll attract people to yourself and start forgetting about those painful feelings that were making you want to hide and sulk.
Kindness goes a long way. You’d be quite surprised by how many people are feeling the same emotions you’re experiencing right now – even celebrities. You can choose to show the people you interact with some loving kindness and generosity. While it isn't instinctual for you to act this way, you can still make the choice to do so. Some people have actually changed the world by making this conscious choice (e.g. Jesus, Gandhi) and you can change at least your part of the world by making this same intentional choice. In the long run, it’ll be a winning choice for you – even if it’s simply because you don’t develop the reputation of being a Scrooge.
Living this type of lifestyle won’t be easy. You’re bound to even run into groups that are nothing more than a dead end, but you can’t give up trying. You simply need to try another group. According to AA and Al-Anon, you should try 6 different groups because it’ll take you this many to find the one that suits you the best. However, by being persistent, challenging your assumptions and feelings of loneliness, showing up, and being both curious and kind the odds are in your favour that you’ll find the right group for you. Once you’ve done so, you’ll find a few friends. Make sure you nourish those friendships by giving them the time and attention they deserve. Don't be afraid to give more than you receive in the beginning. Eventually, you’ll develop such a broad range of friendships that you won’t need to spend time with the takers. You can choose to surround yourself with friends who reward your friendship instead.
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