| Loneliness: Causes And Cures
This article looks at fifteen common reasons why people are lonely and some of the cures for each of them. Some of them may apply to you, others won't. Once you understand why you are lonely and the things that need to be done then you can make the change.
Some people are lonely because:
1. Cause: They have high expectations of others. When these high expectations are not met they get disappointed and then retreat into their shells.
Cure: Decide to be someone who "bounces back". Next time you get disappointed, don't retreat, just regroup then go back into the friendship. Also check some of your expectations to see if they are realistic.
2. Cause: They require people to agree with them exactly. Over the years they narrow down the range of acceptable people until there is no-one left.
Cure: Decide to keep both your truth and your friends. Learn to tolerate those who differ from you and to accept those whose opinions clash with yours - while keeping your own opinions. Be both without compromise and without unnecessary anger.
3. Cause: They expect good to be done to them first before they will reciprocate and they are always waiting for someone else to act and thus they do not take the first step.
Cure: Take the initiative and be a friend first. Smiles are free, handshakes are free, listening carefully costs nothing. Be nice first and eventually others will reciprocate.
4. Cause: They move location too often to develop deep friendships.
Cure: Even people in the military make good friends. It is possible to make good friends inside of three to six months in a new place. If you move every year ask yourself why you are doing this to yourself. Try and change the pattern. Opt to stay somewhere for at least three years so you can make friends. You never know you just might like it so much that you choose to settle down.
5. Cause: They are impatient with others. Love is patient and takes time to develop.
Cure: Tell yourself that people are fragile and easily bruised. Sure you have high standards and people are often frustrating but you can be big-hearted and kind to difficult people. Give people a chance. Don't jump on them, and you will find you have a lot more friends.
6. Cause: They believe they are elite and "cannot associate" with most people.
Cure: The cure is humility and realizing that everyone has value and a story and something to offer.
7. Cause: Sometimes they lack knowledge of how to go about making friends, engaging in small talk and showing the gestures of acceptance - smiling, nodding, small courtesies.
Cure: Get a copy of "How To Win Friends And Influence People" by Dale Carnegie or a similar book on social skills. Practice smiling, being friendly and being kind and courteous. Success in friendship will soon follow.
8. Cause: Lack of listening skills. Poor listeners often come across as self-centered so they have few friends.
Cure: Learn to listen attentively to others. Your turn will come. Many community colleges run courses on listening skills as do some counsellors. Also there are many books on listening skills and body language. Try the following article http://www.aibi.ph/aibi/listem.htm for a start.
9. Cause: An "all or nothing" view of acceptance and rejection.
Cure: The Catholic priest and counsellor Rev. John Powell once wrote a book called "why I Am Afraid To tell You Who I Am.." and the answer was "Because if I tell you, then you might not like me and its all I've got." We all want complete acceptance of all we are - but total acceptance takes time. Some people in the search for acceptance get into the the "Blurt it out - then get rejected" pattern where they tell their whole intense life story to a person they have just met and its "too much" so they get rejected. The cure for it is for them to take relationships one step at a time, gradually revealing themselves to others and letting them accept them "a bit at a time". That way "blurters"can open up slowly at a pace that others can cope with. On the other extreme of the "blurters" are the "jumpers". These people "jump" at the slightest sign of rejection. Jumpers see minor social rejections such as being accidentally ignored as being total rejections of them as a person. These people think "if you are not always accepting me then you are totally rejecting me". That is plainly false. Both the "blurters" and the "jumpers" have an all-or-nothing view of acceptance and rejection. Such people need to learn to see acceptance and rejection on a spectrum from insignificant to total and to see acceptance as a process that take time.
10. Cause: Anger - at one's self, at others, at the world in general. Anger isolates.
Cure: Decide to become a forgiving, calm, tolerant and friendly person. Angry people are difficult to befriend and often end up lonely this in turn can fuel the anger. Anger tends to stem from resentments which in turn stems from unresolved and unforgiven hurts. Make a list of your hurts and resentments on paper then burn it and bury it symbolizing the end of those matters. Work on forgiving others. Learn anger management. Try this free ebook http://www.aibi.ph/aibi/BEQ/ especially chapters 11-15.
11. Cause: Fear of embarrassment and fear of rejection.
Cure: Dr. Clare Weeks talks about "floating" through situations which threaten to embarrass you. When you go into a new social situation go through the motions as if you were floating along slightly detached from reality. Float through the door, float as you smile and shake hands, just gently move as if you were on a cloud. This successfully deactivates the body's "fight or flight" activation system which is behind the embarrassment response. If the fear persists, then see a counsellor.
12. Cause: Distrust of others as the result of a severe life trauma.
Cure: This may be what is known as post-traumatic stress syndrome and may need professional counselling. If you have retreated from life after a severe lief trauma such as rape, robbery or abduction then you should see your doctor about getting appropriate help.
13. Cause: Being overwhelmed by life so they choose isolation to reduce the stress levels.
Cure: When we are overwhelmed, stressed or burned out then we naturally retreat to cut back on the stimulation and stress of life. This is a natural response but if prolonged it can lead to isolation and loneliness. To stop being overwhlemed first make a list of all you are doing then prioritize it - getting rid of things that are "too much" or "too complex". As you lift the load from your life you will find yourself better able to engage in relationships and make friends.
14. Cause: Being so consumed by the need to perform that life is "all work and no play".
Cure: Put work in its right perspective. No-one on their deathbed ever says: "I wish I had spent another day at the office". There is much more to life than work or performance. Your value is person not production. Draw a graph of the life of a human being. At the beginning as a baby we have high value and no productivity, in mid-life we have high value and optimal productivity and in old age we
have high value and diminished productivity. Our value and our productivity are not related at all. Our value concerns from who we are as persons and our relationships and the love we share - so put your effort into those things.
15. Cause: Being so competitive that life is a "battle" where everyone else is a rival and friendship is thus excluded.
Cure: Decide to be friendly, cooperative and affiliative, make love not war. Join a group in an area where you do not have to compete and "just relax". Forget about winning and try liking and blessing and befriending. Make allies, form networks, make relationships part of your plan. It may be true that "he travels fastest who travels alone" but it is also true that "he travels farthest who travels with friends".
Ending Your Loneliness
1. Write down the causes of loneliness above that may apply to you.
2. Then think about the "cures" and what you need to do to fix that aspect.
3. Then write down a time and a process you will undertake to correct things and bring friends into your life.
4. Spend ten days putting it vigorously into practice. You will notice the difference by the end of the ten days.
How To Make Friends
The quickest way to start making friends is to be a friendly person. That is - smile, shake hands firmly, be easy and comfortable to be around, accept people, be warm and genuine and do small practical things for others. Learn to be a good listener and an appreciative audience for others. Everyone loves a good listener.
You don't have to be a performer or tell wonderful jokes or dress in a certain way. Those things are superficial. Most people just want kindness and warmth and acceptance and someone who will listen to them and care about them. If you can do that you will have many friends.
As a Christian I find church is a good place to make friends and of course having Jesus as a friend is a great start!
Copyright 2002 John Edmiston
John Edmiston is a missionary in the Philippines and was previously a career and workplace counsellor. He has a Christian website called the Asian Internet Bible Institute at http://www.aibi.ph/. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.aibi.ph/