Have you been ever finger pointed for your “bad” habit of being a loner? Have you lost friends or, better even, “friends” because of this “bad” habit or personality trait? To fight loneliness, we must not only multiply the initiatives to get out of isolation, we must also change our mindset and adopt new behaviors.
Subjectively speaking, a satisfying life is one of the main factors in our personal development. Many studies have shown that being surrounded, being able to discuss and share has a positive impact on both our mental health and our physical health. In our hyperconnected world, loneliness should have lost ground as the means of communication diversified and perfected. This is unfortunately not the case. In some developed countries, millions of people suffer from loneliness, an increasing phenomenon.
According to the American specialist in happiness Gretchen Rubin, loneliness isone of the main obstacles to happiness. She qualifies the fight against this contemporary scourge as a “major challenge”. For Anne-Laure Martin, psychologist and psychotherapist, “loneliness is not inevitable, even if it partly depends on material and environmental conditions; it is also a matter of positioning and behavior.” To adopt the right state of mind, it is both necessary to be aware of your lacks and needs and to initiate change in small steps on a daily basis.
Ask yourself about your needs
It is important to prioritize your needs. Is your feeling of loneliness linked to the loss of social ties (unemployment, relocation, illness) or is it subsequent to a romantic or family break-up? The thing is to identify the most important and painful need or lack for you. This identification will allow you to better target your priority and therefore to see more clearly your expectations. It will also allow you not to think about your loneliness as a whole, which can generate a feeling of helplessness stifling all thought or applied attempts to implement the however desired change.
Take care of yourself
Unintentional isolation and withdrawal into oneself are factors of depression and altered self-esteem. The more we feel excluded, the less we resonate with ourselves and the less we treat ourselves good enough. It is therefore essential to start taking care of yourself again physically and emotionally before reconnecting with others. Take care of your physical appearance, take part in physical or artistic activities. List what could make you feel good every day. And above all, focus on small pleasures, those you neglect on the pretext that “they are not life changing anyway.”Finally, take the time to list your skills and various talents (from the smallest to the most important) and re-read your list regularly to boost your self-confidence.
Researchers found that feelings of loneliness and isolation made people more negative and more critical. Two hypothesesthat do not promote relational openness. Start by identifying times when your pessimistic beliefs or overly critical judgments take precedence over your benevolence and confidence in life and in others. Then, for each of these negative beliefs or statements, play devil’s advocate role by trying to find one or two arguments to contradict them. Then try to do a gratitude exercise at the end of each day. Go back to the movie of the day and spot any little moments that were easy, enjoyable or rewarding. Focus on each of them as you relive them and give thanks. You can also write down three of these positive events every day. Over time, your outlook on the world and on others will be more benevolent. Your desire to take your place in a less hostile world will then make you reach out to others more easily.
One of the pitfalls of being isolated and feeling lonely is neglecting the little bonds of everyday life. We must keep in mind that a relational and social life splits into a thousand ofdifferent pages. Volunteer to nourish every day the exchanges that your day offers you: with your colleagues or other acquaintances. Have lunch with coworkers more often if you don’t. Join an activity group (walking, reading, meditation), a neighborhood association (parents of students, culture…). You can also try to find online old friends or even family members.
Take care of others
Feeling useful reinforces good self-esteem and changes relationship dynamics. It is also the best way to get out of emotional isolation and to reconnect with the feeling of belonging to a community. Some possible way to support others: offer your services or support to humanitarian organisations, volunteer on weekends, invest in an animal shelter if you like animals, etc.
The advice may seem prying and not directly related to loneliness, but it is not. Researchers found that lack of sleep or poor quality sleep had a “de-socializing” effect. Not only do bad nights have a negative impact on mood and emotions – which dissuades others from making contact with oneself – but the fatigue and irascibility they generate push to inner withdrawal. So be sure to optimize your sleeping conditions. Practice breathing and relaxation exercises before bedtime, eat lightly, turn off the screens (television and computer) an hour before going to sleep.