Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Paul Sanders of www.socialcirclepower.com. Happy people have a much wider range of friends and relationships. They spend more time with others and their relationships tend to be deep and meaningful. What relationships offer you this deep emotional connection? Connecting with others isn’t easy and natural for everyone. It can be a difficult task to reach out to others when we don’t feel good about ourselves or our life circumstances. When we’re down and out, relationships are even more important, and that’s why understanding and dealing with loneliness is so critical.
Understand the Tricky Side of Loneliness
Here is how loneliness works for most people:
- They get hurt socially. Either at a young age or later in life, they experience some emotional shock or rejection.
- They isolate themselves to avoid experiencing that pain further.
- They get lonely. No matter how they distract themselves, they feel a hole inside.
- That loneliness makes them feel depressed AND fear people even more. (For biological reasons, loneliness = danger).
- They go hide even more because their fear of rejection has grown to new dimensions.
Loneliness “tricks” you into thinking that you’re in danger and you need to hide from people. It makes you think that rejection and hurt are just a phone call away or a conversation away. Dealing with loneliness is one of those moments in life where you must NOT trust your emotions. When you feel lonely, that’s the exact time to go reconnect with people EVEN if you don’t feel like it.
Understand the Healthy Side of Loneliness
Have you ever considered this question: Why does the emotion of loneliness even exist? We are a social species and need other people to survive. It’s in our biological nature. Our emotions and body can tell when we’re not having social connections. For instance, your body has a signal to indicate when it needs food. That signal is hunger. Just as hunger signals that you need food, loneliness is a biological SIGNAL that you need other people. I think we all misinterpret loneliness as a sign that we’re not worthy human beings. That’s the big mistake we make more often than not. This happens especially for people who were hurt when they were growing up. If we could all be like, “Oh! I’m feeling lonely these days; well it’s time to call all the people I know and see who wants to hang out!”… we would be a very happy society and loneliness would be the exception. Unfortunately, this is not the case at all.
Take the First Steps Into Social Happiness
Like Dr. John Cacioppo (who spent 15+ years studying loneliness) says, it’s not the quantity of friends that eliminate loneliness, it’s the quality of those friends. As I see it, this “quality factor” is a simple thing: emotional connection. You need people who can understand how you feel and why you do what you do. These can be members of your family, old friends, or current friends that understand you. When you feel lonely, be aware NOT to distract yourself with TV, games, over-work or anything else that allows you to isolate. Don’t succumb to the temptation of “I feel tired today, I’ll just go home and rest”. Instead, pick up the phone, email or text someone and invite them to do something.
Take it a step further: Tell the truth!
I learned a very life-changing lesson a few years ago, which is: I should become increasingly honest with myself and other people. Most people think that they are “honest” but every one of us can do better on that. I’m not talking about the truth, in court. I’m talking about the truth in everyday life. I learned this lesson from the important book Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton. I was also inspired by a friend who just decided to go on a honesty marathon. He started telling the truth to EVERYONE about EVERYTHING, including:
- His insecurities and frustrations
- His fears
- His sex life (and lack of sexual experiences in the past)
- His perception of what people are doing around him
I followed his lead and started being more honest with everyone too. Being more honest improved my relationships with everyone, including people I work with, my girlfriend, my brothers and sisters, and new people I meet. I discovered that by being honest I made more friends more quickly. If you can just be open to the fact that “you’re not perfect at all” and embrace this when around others, people will love being around you. They will relate to you. They’ll appreciate and respect your straight-forwardness and self-acceptance. When you experience a bout of loneliness I hope this information can help you. Please give me some feedback in the comment area. If you want to read more about this, I wrote a couple of article like: How To Deal With Loneliness and The Loneliness Trap. Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Paul Sanders who helps guys Overcome Shyness and Loneliness, learn Critical Social Skills, learn How to Make Friends and How to Build a Social Circle. You can find him at www.socialcirclepower.com