Now that I’ve told my story and explained my personal connection to this topic, I thought the following might be helpful to you … as I found it helpful.
Are you one of those people that can go anywhere and have someone talking to within five minutes, but deep down inside still feel lonely? It can break your heart! Studies have shown that people who feel lonely even in the company of others are at a much higher risk for heart disease. Here are some ways you can tackle those feelings of loneliness so you can have healthier relationships, and a healthy heart.
Understand that it’s quality that matters, not quantity. It doesn’t matter how many people you know, but how well you know them. And more importantly: how well they know you. Or if they really know you at all.
Understand yourself. We all have our fair share of heartaches and wounds as we grow up. By the time we reach forty, we will have lost the openness we had as a four-year-old, as we learned not to let certain things get to us anymore. That’s only natural. But it’s different when you have closed down to such a degree that you have become unable to really get “in touch” with other people. You become, in fact, locked up within yourself.
Find out what locked you up in the first place. Maybe you were abused or neglected by the people who were supposed to take care of you. Maybe you were bullied or left out by your classmates. Maybe you are feeling inadequate because of physical or mental disabilities, your gender, race or social background. These events and feelings can have serious consequences that you must deal with. The good news is: you don’t have to fight this battle alone.
Seek help. Find a therapist to talk about what happened. Yes, it seems unfair that you have to seek professional help when these haunting burdens that are ruining your life are not your fault. You tried to help everybody, regardless of the fact that you weren’t a professional. If you start telling your life’s story to just about anyone, you will end up being the whining and complaining one. You know from experience that that is a huge turn-off.
Stop expecting the people around you to reach out. If you’ve noticed you feel lonely when you’re surrounded by people, you probably have decent social skills already, hence the being surrounded by people, but those connections lack intimacy. In addition to being locked up inside, you might also expect other people to initiate something that would deepen the connection, such as noticing when you feel down and insisting that you talk to them about it so they can help. Instead, learn to speak up and ask for help. Say things like “Hey, I’m going through a rough patch. Can we talk about it? I think that’ll make me feel better.”
Be a little less sensitive. The same thing mentioned in the previous applies to you. If you find you’re always picking up someone else’s mood, saying things like: “You don’t look so happy today. Is something wrong?”, you must learn not to be overly sensitive to everyone else’s lot, to the extent that you neglect yourself. Every relationship is a two way street, and any mature adult should be able to let you know when they’re feeling bad, rather than expect you to guess all the time.
Learn to say no. Sometimes we feel lonely because we feel used and objectified. Perhaps you are a good listener, and people always seem to cry on your shoulder. And when they are done crying, they head out to have fun with other people. Ouch! That hurts! So next time somebody wants to cry on your shoulder, bluntly tell them no. This will make you feel like you’re rude, but you’re only standing up for yourself. You may lose friends over this, but they weren’t your friends to begin with. They were only counting on you to listen to their whining and complaining. You need to make room in your life for people who care about you, and who can have deeper relationships with you.
Be good to yourself. If you feel happy, you will look happy. And happy people attract other people.
Open up. This is the scary part. When you open up to other people, you are guaranteed to have some more heartaches and hurts. But it’s really the only way to connect, and deepen relationships. Start talking: about things you did last weekend, movies you saw, books you read… And when you feel comfortable, start digging deeper.
“Be kind to one another!” ~Ellen Degeneres