“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” -Mother Teresa
We all go through stretches of life when 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. It begins to look 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 4 ways to break free from loneliness.
1. 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.
2. Initiate with people.
When loneliness starts eroding 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.
3. Try something new.
Being 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 in 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.
4. 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. Take a walk in a crowded area and breathe in life. Go to where the people are.
Sound off: Do you have some ideas to offer on what to do when you are lonely?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Have you ever felt lonely?”