I’ve heard many an unmitigated argument over the subject of loneliness. I couldn’t bear to see a person in a restaurant eating all by themselves, a John Grisham novel limply hanging from their fingertips as a decoy to the illusion that they are actually enjoying the book, when their eyes are constantly planted on the gyro they’re eating. Then, one day I was that same person sitting in a restaurant with a Stephan King novel in my hand. To make matters worse, I had the front paperback cover folded backwards, completely destroying the book. How could I end up in this position? But unlike the John Grisham reader, I was not lonely, and I have the secret as to why. Here are some suggestions on how to be less lonely.
Cognitive therapy. Exploring and challenging the negative assumptions of lonely people might encourage them to take social risks...and make them more attractive to others.
Social skills practice. Some university counseling centers and community mental health clinics offer group workshops on overcoming shyness. Role-playing and other methods help lonely people build confidence and learn to interact more successfully with others.
Changing the environment. Many people have trouble forming relationships not because of any deficit in social skills, but because they’re not spending time in the right places. Tell me, if someone likes golf, and want to find someone who shares the same interest why would they look for a friend in a gothic lesbian bar? It doesn’t make sense, does it?
Example: Loneliness is a common reaction to moving to a new city. Work is the basis for many people’s social lives. If you have little in common with your colleagues other than the fact that you work together, you’ll be at a disadvantage in finding people to socialize with.
In fact, it can be dangerous to overemphasize a lack of personal and social skills as a cause of loneliness. Studies have shown that people who focus on their situations-and try to do something to change their situations-are more successful at overcoming loneliness than people who blame their own presumed personality defects.
Successful relationships are largely a function of proximity and similarity..being in settings where you are likely to meet people who share your interests, education level, socioeconomic backgrounds, age or hobbies.
Example: I bet you didn’t know that trying to meet people of the opposite sex in bars, or even many singles groups, is highly unlikely to result in satisfying long-term relationships. The people you meet there may be pleasant, but the odds are you’ll have nothing in common with them...and the future of such relationships is not promising.
Not to call myself speaking in layman’s terms, but you should think about what you are interested in and where people with the same interests as yourself are likely to be found-then go there. People too often overlook this seemingly obvious but effective strategy.
If there is any idea that you have in regards to meeting new friends, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You could see your comment posted online at Recipes 4 Love. Until the next time I post, love, peace and empathy.
Terry J. Snipes
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