Loneliness is the feeling of not being connected to, and truly known by, anyone. Loneliness can be felt in two distinct situations, so when considering how to feel less lonely, you’ll need to apply a different strategy to overcome these feelings.
The two circumstances in which people often feel lonely are:
- When they don’t have a network of friends or family around them, to share their lives with, or
- When they have these networks in place, but don’t feel like they’re truly known for who they are.
To apply any strategy to overcome loneliness, you’ll need to have a bit of courage to become uncomfortable. There are habits that’ll you need to change, and situations you’ll need to face, that falls outside of what you’ve become comfortable with. So, read on, and make the commitment to yourself to become truly known, and loved.
Addressing the first cause of loneliness – Network building
Psychology Today lists some practical ways to meet people and build connections, with tips on how to navigate the uncomfortable emotions associated with building a network of friends. Here are two ways you can start building a network:
Reconnect with old friends
If you’ve lost touch with good friends, reach out and try to rekindle the friendship. With shared history, it can be easier than to start from scratch with strangers. Be prepared that the friendship won’t be what it used to be, because neither you nor your friend, are who you used to be. But this might be the very reason you’ll become better friends.
Join a group or club
Whether it’s a church, a hiking club, or a crocheting circle, joining a community of people with common interests is the best way to meet new people, and the easiest way to connect thanks to the common interest. Getting more involved, by helping lead the group, will increase the opportunities for you to spend time with individuals within the group and connect with them.
Addressing the second cause of loneliness – Being known by those you know
This part of the loneliness battle isn’t as clear cut as building a network. I’ve found that feelings of not being known occur because there are things you feel you’re hiding to fit in with the network you have.
The steps below are the ones that helped me overcome loneliness.
Remember that you don’t have to be more or less of anything
You’ll need to remember this, constantly. Often, when joining a new group, you’ll adapt who you are to accommodate what you think the group wants you to be. This survival mechanism is helpful, after all, fitting in does make it easier to meet a mate.
However, taking it to the extreme where you disregard your own interests, desires, and well-being to fit in, won’t improve your feelings of loneliness. It will only perpetuate the feelings of being unconnected and unknown.
Accept that you’ll disappoint people
Keeping the first point in mind, accept that you’ll disappoint people. There will be times where you don’t agree with a certain point of view, an activity, or a course of action. And that is okay.
Instead of trying to force yourself into the mold, assess why you’re opposed to the group consensus, and decline (amicably) to participate in the conversions, or activities, regarding that course of action.
As an example: If you’re an introvert, and there are extroverts in your new group, you’ll need to take some time to recharge between social engagements. Which will disappoint the extroverts when you say no to plans occasionally.
Though this is counterintuitive, you’ll notice that even though you’re saying no occasionally, you’ll start feeling known because the people who care for you don’t mind a “no” from time to time.
Become OK with the discomfort of vulnerability
Brené Brown’s Ted Talk “The power of vulnerability”, is a helpful guide on how to become OK with the discomfort of vulnerability. Once you’ve identified what vulnerability feels like, you’ll be able to label it and see it for what it is. Though this doesn’t take the feeling of vulnerability away, if does help you bear with it until it passes.