There are times in our lives when it seems that loneliness is thrust upon us.
As kids, moving into a new school district and/or neighborhood.
As young adults, starting out with college life or finding employment.
The death of important family members can contribute to a sense of less connection.
Stages of life: divorce, retirement, aging, loss of health and the ability to continue usual activities, loss of friends.
These losses hurt and can leave us confused and lonely. There are so many people who have called over the years with one or more of these backgrounds.
Feeling alone, lonely, contributes to depression, complete with a sense of no purpose in life. Isolation from people makes life seem not worth the trouble.
Isolation contributes to mental and physical decline.
And it is that point at which loneliness becomes a voluntary condition.
We have all felt the temporary loneliness that comes with illness, friends and family moving away, a weekend or longer with others gone on vacation.
People call wondering why this should be.
We are not solitary animals — we flourish in having relationships, families, communities, group activities, identifi cation with groups surrounding religion, sports, politics, geography, etc.
Being connected is a feeling we all need to have a sense of belonging, confidence, safety, warmth, and ultimately — purpose.
Since I have mentioned "voluntary condition," then the answer, the solution to loneliness is an eff ort to reach out and touch somebody.
Something so small as asking a friend out for a walk or a coffee breaks the pattern of waiting for the clouds to deposit on your doorsteps people and activities that will engage you.
If you like to fool around with shooting pool, then go to a local hall and play with whoever looks like they won’t beat you by too much.
Join a hiking group, chess club, dancing studio, motorcycle bunch (I just did that!), yoga, painting class . . . I mean, the list is infinite.
Will you be comfortable at first?
We're never comfortable with the unknown.
However, it doesn’t take long for the unfamiliar to become familiar and therefore more comfortable. The absolute best way to connect in a new group of people is not to show off or become overly assertive.
Instead, be a good listener and spur conversation by asking questions to help others express more of themselves.
Be sure not to make flash judgments, especially because other people are also uncomfortable and make silly choices in what to say, which can be utterly different than their usual attitude.
People are most attracted to others who show interest.
Surely, you can find a way to show interest in whatever way you are sharing. Give compliments. The more you give, the more you will start to enjoy people.
Not everyone will develop into a friend, so don’t make universal joy your expectation.
It's probable, however, that if you permit yourself to engage in many new experiences, you will indeed meet people who can add something positive and joyous to your life.
I suggest also that you think about hobbies you may have let slide, or ones you’ve always wanted to try, and then fi gure out how to enter those spheres.
There are classes in just about everything you can imagine.
Starting a class gives you the opportunity to meet people with a mutual interest, which always adds to mutual comfort.
Plus, you get to learn something new — which is also great for your psyche. It is too easy to sink into your life like you do into your couch.
Posting and reading social media adds to isolation because it just isn’t real, and it isn’t personal. It is an addictive way to hide and leads to anxiety and depression because your heart and soul are not embracing another heart and soul.
Please don’t use social media to pretend you’re connected to anyone who actually cares.
Not everyone has to be a close friend.
You may be surprised at how wonderful it feels to just have folks to do stuff with.
There is a place for intimate friendships, and perhaps a larger place for sharing moments in life with people who enjoy mutual values and experiences.
Volunteer your life to reaching out and savoring the pleasures of sharing happiness with others.
Dr. Laura (Laura Schlessinger) is a well-known radio personality and best-selling author. She appears regularly on many television shows and in many publications. Listen to Dr. Laura on SiriusXM Channel 111, Mon.–Sat. 2–6pm ET, Sun. 5–9pm ET. Read Dr. Laura's Reports — More Here.
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