I said in Part 1 that there are five particular ways to try to look at what happens when we are lonely. And I spoke about a woman who had to move to a certain town because of her husband’s work. They went to church and felt there’s was really no way in because of people in their cliques.
- Read A Solution to Loneliness – Part 1
We continue looking at the first way: Admit you are lonely.
You may also want to confide in a family counsellor, pastor or other trusted person. Several months after, the lady who was so despondent, phoned again to say she had made some friends at church! What had happened, she related, was:
I picked out one of the ladies at church who I thought would be understanding; and without attacking anyone, I told her how I was feeling excluded. To my surprise, she told me that sometimes she feels left out too. That did wonders! After that, she made a special point of introducing me to people at church, getting me in on conversations and even inviting me and my husband to some get-togethers.
If your loneliness is related to particular circumstances you are dealing with—perhaps you just lost a loved one, you recently moved to a new area, or you’re struggling with ’empty nest syndrome’—you might want to open up with someone who has been in a similar situation. That person may not only make a good sounding board, but may be able to help you figure out some ways to diminish the lonely feelings.
2. Be Friendly
It sounds simple, but one of the best ways to combat loneliness is to be friendly and approachable. Others will be much more drawn to you if you smile when you see them, make good eye contact, focus on positive conversation topics and show a genuine interest in what they have to say. If you’re in a room full of people and nobody’s approaching you, then be willing to be the one actively seeking out others and starting conversations with them.
Try to be friendly to everybody, but focus your attention on those who look lonely, withdrawn or ‘lost in the crowd’. This is especially good advice if there are cliques at church, work or school that make you feel excluded. Mary Halpin, Ph.D., a family counsellor in Deerfield, Illinois says, “If you feel left out, chances are there are others who feel the same way. Reaching out to others who are lonely can help you relieve your own feelings of loneliness.”
Strive to be the kind of person who seeks connections with those of all social circles. It’ll rid you of your loneliness and set the right example of not being cliquish—and you’ll make others feel less lonely, too.
3. Cultivate New Interests
Explore some new interests, hobbies and pastimes. Sign up for a class at your local community centre. Volunteer to be a tour guide at your city’s art or history museum. Join a bowling club, or garden club. See if there’s a book-discussion group you can be a part of at your local library. If you have kids in school, get involved with the parent-teacher group.
If you’re interested in scrapbooking, ask your network of acquaintances to see if there are people who can show you the ropes or want to get involved in these hobbies themselves. Any of these kinds of activities can be ideal springboards for meeting new people and allowing you to develop new interests, which may serve as common ground with which you can connect with others.
4. Don’t Let Long-distance Friendships Slide
Whether you’ve recently relocated to a new area or you have lots of friends who have moved to different parts of the country, don’t let long-distance relationships fall by the wayside. Phone calls, letters, cards and e-mail messages from far-flung friends and family can go a long way in keeping loneliness at bay.
In many ways, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch. You might want to pick regular days and times to call out-of-town friends and relatives each week. You may even want to consider getting an account with a social networking site like Facebook. It’s an easy way to share photos with friends and keep up with what others are doing. And who knows, you may be able to reconnect with some long-lost acquaintances.
5. Most Importantly, Draw Close to God
Seek God’s help with your situation. If you think you are lonely because you’re too shy, ask God to help you overcome this shortcoming. If you feel detached from others because of a misunderstanding that took place, ask God to give you the right mindset, strength and the wisdom to be able to go to your friends and talk things out. Take your concerns to God in prayer, and you will not feel like you are facing the tough times alone—because you truly won’t be.
The fact is, sometimes God allows us to go through difficult, lonely periods to get our attention. It’s when we are at our lowest points, when we feel that we have no-one else to talk with, that we often seek God the most fervently. That’s when we have the opportunity to sort out our thoughts and realign our priorities—to ensure that God is the number one relationship in our lives.
God will certainly help us get through lonely times, and he will provide us with the human companionship that we all need. But we need to make sure we are truly putting him first. At the same time, we all need to remind ourselves that as long as we have a close relationship with God, we will never be completely alone.
“Confronting Loneliness”, Becky Sweat, 3 Sep 2009, Beyond Today, www.ucg.org