Last week I talked about loneliness and the detrimental effects of this state. Many of us don’t realize the physical and emotional toll that loneliness can have on our lives. The first step to any type of change requires awareness and understanding of the problem and loneliness is no different. Some people want to be connected but either don’t how or fear rejection, while others try too hard to be connected and accepted which may inadvertently create rejection and isolation. Expect the best instead of anticipating rejection.
It helps to know yourself first including your interests, needs, strengths, values, and traits. When we are secure with ourselves we’re often more successful in our connections. Consider community service or volunteer work that you may find fulfilling and creates opportunities to meet people. Find an activity like running, paddle boarding, kayaking, tennis or any other that has a club you can join to be connected to others with a similar interest. Attending a house of worship and getting involved with groups and/or classes can be another way to develop new friendships. Become a familiar face whether at the gym, local restaurant, and/or coffee shop and you’ll find more opportunities for connection. Sharing more with existing friends and deepening relationships can also help with loneliness.
Since loneliness is a subjective experience, it also can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, so modify those negative thoughts and share positive ideas instead. Get involved with your neighborhood association, join a book club, sign up for a class, join a local organization, or get involved with a support group. Be cautious in pursuing social media connections, and use them to supplement real relationships, not replace them. Remember the quantity of friends is not important; what matters is that you feel a part of something greater than yourself. Take the risk to step out and seek connections, the benefits far outweigh the costs.