The thread of our life would be dark, Heaven knows! If it were not with friendship and love, intertwined. - Thomas Moore
Loneliness is hard to bear. It's truly painful. The good news about loneliness is - it's curable! There are many things you can do to help yourself be less lonely
To help you relax and be receptive to what we offer here, we suggest you start with relaxation breathing. Takes just a minute (we're only going to do three breaths) (and, really, you're going to be breathing anyway...) - and it truly helps. Here we go...
Take a deep, deep breath through your nose.
Deeeeep - and slowwww - all the way in - and release it slowly through your pursed lips- like blowing a kiss - all the way out...
Once more - another deep, deep breath - in through your nose - count up to 8... - sit up straight so you can fill your lungs all the way to the bottom of your diaphragm - and very slowly, very gently - out through your pursed lips as you count down from 8...
Close your eyes, relax your muscles and allow the tension to leave your body.
And one more deeeeep breath - in through your nose... And blow kiss - out slowly and gently through your pursed lips. And relax your muscles - all over - let every one of them relaaaax - like butter - like crusty, old snow melting on a sunny, spring morning - from the tip of your head to the tip of your toes. Good. Feel a bit better? We hope so. Now we're ready to begin.
Maybe you've recently moved to a new city or neighborhood, to a new college or school. Maybe you've left or lost a love relationship. Maybe it's just time for some new friends. Whatever the reason, you're ready to - you'd like to - meet some new people. Good. That's a very human thing to do. We are, after all, social beings. Even if we appreciate solitude, we also like to be with others - especially compatible souls. It helps us to feel more alive - to enjoy life more - to have fuller lives. Having friends is definitely good!
A friend is a present you give yourself. Robert Louis Stevenson
Here are ten things you can do to help you meet new people - one of whom might become a good friend.
Do remember, you're not alone. Whatever your beliefs and interests and problems, there are others who share them - possibly many people - and probably not that far away. The challenge is to find them, so you can befriend one or two.
You're the one who's going to have to reach out. While it's possible that someone may notice you and think, what a lovely person, and then reach out to you, invite you to some delightful event, talk with you in a way you would enjoy and appreciate all that's wonderful about you - take it from us: IT'S UNLIKELY. More likely, YOU are the one who's going to have to do the work. But that's GOOD - because that way you can feel proud and accomplished, once you've made some new friends and helped yourself in that way. And helping yourself in a truly constructive, productive way, is one of the best ways to raise self-esteem.
Get out of the house! Staying inside your own little world is the worst thing you can do. And God knows, you can get cabin fever easily. It's best to get out and do something - anything - even if it's just window shopping - or taking a walk around the block - or going to the library. The more active you are outside your home, the more likely it is you'll run into some other human being who's a potential friend.
Give yourself permission to open up to the world - to new experiences and new people. Sometimes lonely people are perfectionists: If it's not perfect, you're not interested. But in order to meet new people and make new friends, you've got to open up to others - perhaps just a teensy-weensie bit. And that may mean opening up - or loosening up - even if the situation - or the people - are not perfect in your view right now. This is a very important step. Giving yourself permission to open up and let the world in - even if just a crack - even if the situation isn't perfect - is a key step in bringing new people and experiences into your life.
Find some new activities that will put you in touch with others who might become friends. Follow your true interests; that way you'll be killing two birds with one stone. Join a chorus or bird-watching group, an investment club, church group or synagogue gathering. Wherever there are people, there are loads of activities to do - because people like being with people - it's natural for us! See what's listed in your local papers and bulletin board. Or call around. If you've got a special interest, hobby or talent there's bound to be a group of others who share that. Find them and - bingo - a new pool of people, one of whom might become a good friend.
If you don't have a special interest, hobby or talent (you probably do but you might not have discovered it yet), just go and do whatever activity sounds like fun or pleasant to you. If you're especially shy, there may even be a support group for shy people like you, not too far away! But you've got to take action and find it. That's the challenge.
One of the most effective ways to lose your loneliness is to help someone else. How about stuffing envelopes for a cause you believe in? Or visiting an elderly person who also may be feeling lonely and would really appreciate your company? Or - helping a nearby church serve dinner to the homeless? Volunteer at your local hospital. Or become a tutor to an underprivileged child. Or teach reading to an adult. There's no shortage of good deeds to be done in the world - and doing them is almost a sure-shot way to meet people - or at least have some good conversations. And it's bound to lift your self-esteem in the most positive way - something we all need.
Take a class. It's always good to develop yourself and, of course, there's always other people in a class.
Do something physically active with other participants. Go on a hike or outing - or go running - join a gym. Go to a square dance - or folk dancing group. Learn to roller-blade. Physical activity definitely helps to stave off feelings of loneliness and also depression. And helps to get you in the mood to have fun with others. If nothing else just get up and do ten or twenty jumping jacks. You're practically guaranteed to feel just a tiny bit better - and more like socializing with others.
Give up just a drop of your perfectionism. People are a real mixed bag. We're wonderful and we're awful - all in one! The trick is to find the ones who lean more towards the former and less towards the later, in your opinion. And the trick to finding them, is to drop your too-high standards just a bit, so you can get to know some people who may not appear to be perfect at first, but who turn out to be warm or funny or something else that you genuinely appreciate.
Give up a bit of your distance. You can't overcome loneliness by maintaining total distance. This means that, let's say, someone invites you to a function that your immediate reaction to is, "Never - that's so corny." Wait a second! You might be surprised to find other people there who also think it's corny. And sometimes corny events are fun, even if they're corny. So they can perk you up and make you feel good - even if you look down your nose, a bit. And you never know - on the way out you might run into a distant cousin of an old friend you remember from the past, you strike up a conversation and next thing you know, you've added a new friend to your life.
Be patient and reasonable. There are times in life when we're bound to be a bit lonely - when we've moved to a new city or neighborhood, when we're at a new job or school, when we've lost a mate. These are challenging situations for everyone - and they all take some time to work through, adjust to and be ready and able to make new friends. Don't berate yourself for the absence of friends. It truly does take a while before the ones who are compatible come forth.
A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A REALLY HELPFUL "TRICK": GO BACK AGAIN!
One thIng that we've noticed - (actually our sister noticed this years ago when she was a divorced Mom looking for a new partner - and she found one!) - that helps a lot is to be sure to GO BACK TO THE SAME SITUATION SEVERAL TIMES. For instance, if you decided to try a book discussion group that sounded good - it was on a topic you're interested in - but you didn't have a particularly great time - didn't meet compatible people - the first time, the trick is to STILL GO BACK AGAIN next time. There are likely to be new people there that weren't there the first time. Also, as you become more familiar with the people there - and they become more familiar with you - suddenly people appear who seem appealing - people you didn't notice the first time around.
In addition, as you become more comfortable with the situation, you change in ways you're not aware of (for instance, you become more relaxed and therefore more approachabe - and you're more familiar with what's going on with that group, so you have more to converse about, more to contribute to the event). And your perceptions change of the people around you, now that they are more familiar to you.
CONSISTENT PROBLEMS WITH LONELINESS AND MAKING FRIENDS
If you consistently have trouble finding or making new friends for yourself, perhaps there's a problem within you that needs addressing. Try to recognize the patterns in your life. I f you never make friends, there must be some reason why. Try to analyze those reasons and address them. Perhaps you're too busy with work or other responsibilities and need to make more time for friendships. Perhaps you have a problem with shyness that needs addressing. Maybe you're too self-involved - or too preoccupied with your own problems or your own thoughts to open up to others in an appealing way. Perhaps you've been putting people off with your mannerisms, or the way you present yourself. (Of course, if that's so, there must be a reason why you need to do that - a reason that you must look at and understand and resolve, before you can move forward.) You may need some help with these kinds of problems, either from a wise, supportive and insightful friend, a counselor or pastor, or a professional therapist.
Here are some positive affirmations to say to yourself - outloud - right now - to help psych yourself into a Making-New-Friends-Mode. Saying affirmations really works. Simply speak these statements - even if you don't believe they're true at first. Later, repeat them to yourself throughout the day:
- I am a good person at heart.
- I want to have a good life.
- I want to have good people in my life.
- I like having compatible people in my life.
- I deserve to have good friends in my life.
- I allow myself to have good friends in my life.
- I hereby give myself permission to bring some new friends into my life.
- I hereby give myself permission to open up to new people who might become friends.
- I hereby give myself permission to go out and seek the friends I'd like.
- I hereby give myself permission to drop just a bit of my perfectionism, so I can make some new friends.
- Every day I do things that help me make new friends.
- I am pleased to be making new friends.
- I am pleased to be taking steps that help me to enjoy my life.
- I am pleased to help myself have a good life.
- I like having good people in my life.
- I am willing to do what I have to, to bring good people into my life.
- I am doing good things to help myself.
- It feels good to help myself.
Speak these affirmations to yourself - outloud - at least twice a day. Speaking affirmations can be very powerful. They really, really can help you. Try it - you may surprise yourself.
If you've tried to help yourself but none of your efforts have been effective, you may need professional help. For more information, check out our segment on SEEKING PROFESSIONAL HELP.
If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, you can access our segment on COPING WITH GRIEF. Perhaps our segment on PRAYER could give you some comfort and help, also.
The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend. - Henry David Thoreau
We remember well being lonely. It was the '60's and we had just moved to New York City to attend design school. It was exciting being in the big city and starting training for a "glamorous" (as we saw it) career. But we actually knew only one person in all of New York City. Fortunately, she was a good soul, someone a bit older who didn't mind when we called to say we were feeling blue. She often invited us to do something with her - whatever it was she was about to do - usually something interesting and often quite fun. The difficult part was that there was no one at school who seemed compatible. We were used to making friends easily. Now where were the new friends we expected to make? We had never experienced true loneliness before. But now we were experiencing it - and it was tough. It hurt! There we were in the midst of the Big City - surrounded by millions of people - and yet we couldn't find a compatible friend! It was discouraging. This is when we developed our first bout of serious insomnia. (And probably, now that we look back on it, some degree of clinical depression.)
All this caused us to seek therapy - which, ultimately, made a very big difference in our life. Eventually we came to understand some of the forces working on us - forces from childhood and a difficult family, etc. Along with the deeper form of help we got from our therapist, was a sense of support which no doubt also helped us have the courage to reach out to new friends. Eventually we found many. And once that happened and we were busy with school work, and we found a comfortable place to live - well, we stopped having sleep problems - at least for several years - until we ran into other complications...
So while loneliness can be tough - it can be cured - and when it is, sleep is a lot easier to come by, in our experience.
Good luck to you - and Sweet Dreams...
Friendship is a sheltering tree... - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
P.S. WE ALSO RECOMMEND ADOPTING A PET.
Pets are so wonderful - so warm and dear and loving. If you are up to caring for a little being, do consider adopting a pet who needs a home. No need to spend money on a pure-breed. So many animals in shelters are beautiful and loving. They're waiting for you to reach out to them and take them into your home! It can be the most rewarding relationship imagineable.
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