The Common Experience of Loneliness
By: Laura Hull
- Acknowledge it; normalize it. We have all been there at one time or another in our lives. To acknowledge it is to own it, and by owing it we can take control of the situation and start making a plan for how to address it.
- Take time to process and understand the root cause of your individual sense of loneliness. If loneliness results from being in a new place, with new people, understand that meaningful relationships take time to develop and grow. Patience with the process is key in this situation. It is also important to realize that we do not necessarily “fit in” with every group of people we approach. This is normal, and does not necessarily mean that we are doing anything “wrong”. But it is important in those situations to recognize when something is not working, and do not invest time and energy worrying about “why I don’t fit in, or why they don’t like me”. This only makes the sense of loneliness worse and extends the time it takes it find a friend or group of friends that is a good fit.
- Seek counseling. Counseling provides a very helpful setting for addressing issues. Finding out what is driving the feelings is a key to re-engaging in meaningful contact with others. In the same way that depression-anxiety-depression can become a pattern, the reverse is also true. When we lessen anxiety, we lessen depression and we are more likely to engage in activities which can lessen the feelings of loneliness.
- Evaluate the way you approach relationships. There are times when individuals find themselves struggling to find a place with any group of friends. Sometimes the way we approach relationships can hinder the process of building meaningful relationships. Some people struggle in social settings and can benefit from social skills training. When we possess good social skills, it then becomes easier to seek out situations where we are grouped with people who hold the same interests. Seek out opportunities to meet people in church, or volunteer time with an organization whose work is close to the heart. Join Toastmasters or any type of community group with similar interest. The point is to make a deliberate effort to engage.