“I feel like such a loser, I don’t have any friends to call to hang out with.”
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard some variation of that statement. Maybe it’s not having a birthday party because you don’t know anyone to invite or maybe you want to go to an event and have no one to go with you. When you don’t have friends, it’s easy to judge yourself as less than.
What do you do?
In previous posts I’ve talked about accepting that you are lonely and not judging the loneliness. I’ve also mentioned that connecting to the world around you in some way can decrease some of the loneliness you feel, such as through gardening or going for mindful walks, particularly in nature.
Accept that Wanting Friends is Normal
While the above steps are helpful, most people who are lonely long for deep connection with other people. Wanting to connect with others is not codependency. Humans are naturally social, some more than others. For some, one or two connections may be all they want. Others may crave a large group of friends. Regardless of your preferences, feeling lonely does not mean something is wrong with you.
Drop the Masks
In her book, Freedom from Loneliness: 52 Ways to Stop Feeling Lonely, Jennifer Page notes that when you go out, stop thinking about yourself and trying to be perfect. Being authentic is more likely to help you make friends. To connect with others, you have to show who you are and stop trying to fit in. That can be scary yet it’s the only way to truly connect.
As an emotionally sensitive person, maybe you’ve learned to sense what others want you to be and take on that role. That’s not a true connection and is exhausting. When you are trying to be who others want you to be, you may be even lonelier than when you are by yourself. So part of connecting with others is figuring out what type of person you are, what you like and don’t like, and letting others see the real you.
Turn off Electronics
Disconnect to Connect is a video showing how we shut people out of our lives by being absorbed in electronics instead of focusing on the people who are with us. Being mindful of people who are around us instead of watching television or texting can lead to closer relationships. Though television can be comforting, at the end of the day it is not satisfying the way interactions with people are.
Television can be used as a tool to connect. Perhaps people at your work watch a certain show and that show is a topic of conversation. By watching the program you can join in the conversation. Perhaps you might invite people over to watch with you. That would be different than using television to avoid personal relationships.
If you spend your evenings or days watching television, consider trying an experiment. Spend a week without television. You may discover more fulfilling ways to spend your time that are more satisfying in the long run.
Connect With the World Through Creativity
Page suggests that boredom and loneliness are related. Many emotionally sensitive people are creative and getting involved in creative activities can decrease boredom and loneliness. Make a collage, cook, knit, paint, sing, or get engaged in an activity that you enjoy. When you are engaged in something you enjoy, you probably will not feel lonely.
Overcome Your Fears
One of the times you are likely to feel most alone is when you are afraid. Having someone with you helps you feel less scared, whether you fear the dark, illness, bugs, medical procedures, strangers or medical procedures. By working to overcome your fears, you will decrease the loneliness that you experience during these times.
Page gives numerous ideas in addition to the ones mentioned here. She found the ideas in her research on loneliness and tried them for herself. Her book is a helpful guide.
Hall, K. (2013). Decreasing Loneliness. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 3, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/emotionally-sensitive/2013/01/decreasing-loneliness/