When you think about the word loneliness, perhaps an image that comes to mind involves isolation.
For example, you see yourself looking through a window at the world. There is a barrier (in this case the window and wall) physically keeping you from other people.
It’s a powerful metaphor for a feeling that is also profound and impactful. Even if you are surrounded by people in your everyday life (friends, family, etc.), you might still feel isolated and disconnected from them.
So, what is the best way to overcome loneliness? It’s by forging real, lasting connections with other people that give you a sense of belonging.
Be a Joiner
Did you ever know that student in high school who was a member of every club, had the lead role in the school play, and also was a 3-season athlete? That’s an example (although extreme) of someone who is a joiner. They are parts of lots of groups.
When you are part of a group, you feel accepted. You know that you belong. Remember, belonging is essential for overcoming loneliness. Although, you don’t have to go to extremes like the student in the imaginary scenario.
Some examples of groups that you could join include:
- Recreational sports leagues
- Groups that host trivia nights
- Book clubs
- Outdoor enthusiasts
- Service organizations
- Religious or spiritual groups
- Gyms that host group classes
- Other special interest groups: classic car rebuilding, birdwatchers, etc.
With the power of the internet, all you have to do is a quick search for groups in your area that align with your interests. You may be surprised about what all is available in your local.
Go for Deep Connections
One thing to keep in mind when joining a group or being part of an organization is going for deeper connections.
In the example above, the student may be involved in many different groups, but does that automatically mean they have deep and meaningful connections with others in those groups? Maybe. But it’s more likely they don’t have the kinds of relationships to help overcome social isolation.
That’s why, when considering expanding your horizons, take it slow. Think quality over quantity. Join one or two groups at first. If things work out, great! Yet, if you don’t think that it’s a good fit after a few visits, move on to another that will be.
An offshoot of joining a group is that the connections you’re building with other people can turn into lasting friendships.
You don’t need the excuse of a group meeting to chat with a friend on the phone or through social media, get together for a drink to swap stories, or go for a bike ride. These are more impromptu experiences that allow you to forge deeper friendships.
Of course, it helps to start with a group setting to find other people with whom you have common interests. But don’t just leave it at that.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Oftentimes, modern technology such as cell phones, computers, as well as software (like social media apps) have a bad reputation for keeping us apart. To be fair, there certainly can be a concern for overusing technology versus building meaningful, in-person relationships. However, for those who struggle with loneliness, technology can be a great tool for getting things started.
- Texting with a friend
- Joining a group on a social media site with a common interest (photography, gardening, etc.).
- Video chats
- Playing games together
What’s important is that these tools can be a bridge towards creating meaningful real-world relationships and belonging. If you are sitting at home and just passively watching videos online or TV, you are not making any progress towards combating loneliness.
Get Professional Help for Loneliness
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, it’s still a struggle to not feel lonely. Maybe there is something more that’s going on? For instance, perhaps your social skills need some polishing. Or you might need to build up your confidence so that you don’t feel overwhelmed interacting with other people.
This is where therapy can be helpful in getting you to the next level. Talking to a therapist doesn’t mean that there is something “wrong” with you. Rather, it is a chance to refine and practice skills you can use to form relationships.
Despite there being over 6 billion people on this planet, many struggle with social isolation and loneliness. If you feel alone, try practicing the tips listed above. And if you need more personalized assistance for dealing with loneliness, please don’t hesitate to contact us, 256-686-9195.