“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” – Mother Teresa
We all go through stretches of life where we are feeling lonely. My most extreme example of this came when I went off to college. I had a close set of friends growing up and was used to not needing to make new ones. When I found myself at college without my support base, I was intimidated and withdrew into my shell. I felt like a fish out of water and was lost as to how to proceed. That freshmen year was one of my toughest in life.
Have you experienced, or are you in, one of those times? It’s not something we talk about much. We feel like others will think we are weak if we admit how we are feeling. So we say, “we’re doing alright”, or “everything is great”, and the truth remains concealed from those who might otherwise help. Physical effects begin to show up like excessive daydreaming, loss of focus and drive and disrupted sleep habits. Left to fester, loneliness can turn into depression and lower the long-term quality of our lives. There are ways to combat loneliness and rebuild self-confidence and joy. Here are four ways to break free from loneliness.
Know You’re Not Alone
It’s important to understand that so many others feel just like you. Too often in these moments we become overly self-critical starting to believe we are unworthy. We become uncomfortable in our own skin. It’s a good time to work on self-improvement and things we could do better, but it’s more important to focus on what we already do well. Beating ourselves up irrationally will only make the problem worse. Focus on the positive aspects of your life, such as being a loving dad.
Initiate with People
When loneliness starts eroding our self-confidence, it’s easy to start isolating from others. Bad idea. It only opens the door for depression to bloom. Keep initiating with people. Devote yourself to serving and impacting the lives of others. Attend small groups at church or a local organization. Be proactive in putting yourself out there.
Try Something New
Being willing and open to new things brings rejuvenating experiences, hope, and people into our lives. Perhaps enroll in a class like photography or culinary arts. Maybe join a sports league like bowling or softball. The idea is to engage new interactions that will create chances for new relationships to develop. Start saying yes when you used to say no when opportunities come your way.
Go Where the People Are
Accept that invite to dinner. Visit family you haven’t seen in a long time. Connect on social media to both new and old friends. But if you are married make sure your wife knows everything and is okay with who you are connecting with. Take a walk in a crowded area and breathe in life. Go to where the people are.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Have you ever felt lonely?”