How Not to Be Lonely

Stop the cycle of loneliness & isolation. Be popular

So how often do you feel lonely, unpopular and just generally down about the prospects of building meaningful relationships with other people? You might lack the confidence to go out alone and put yourself into situations where you could meet new people. Starting conversations with strangers can be complicated because we don’t know if we’ll be received well and have the same interests as the interesting person standing in line with us.

I’ve been noticing that these feelings are quite popular and prevalent today (and can’t help to think that the internet could be hindering our social skills rather than helping). For example, in my house it’s common to spend a few minutes of face time with the family before we all get onto our computers, cell phones and tablets. It seems increasingly difficult (or people are more reluctant) to spend time with others. For some, social interaction can be taxing at times and it’s much easier to unwind after a hard day at work by messing about on a phone because with a phone you don’t have to think, consider, talk and sometimes “put up with” people and their nuances.

Most would argue that the internet cuts across borders and brings people together. We do have our social media and all these wonderful messaging apps after all. Yet the internet takes away the need for human interaction which in turn can influence our ability to communicate with people in the real word. The result is an increased lack of confidence to approach people in real life situations and a lack of social skills.

Human interaction is a basic need each of us need to fulfill. It can lift you mood, increase your self worth and confidence. A lack of human interaction can lead to feelings of loneliness, unpopularity and can mess with your sense of belonging. Most of us see other people in our day to day lives but find the idea of approaching them absurd for all the above mentioned reasons and whole lot more.

This general sense of isolation that we have become complacent with in the past is one of the things I felt I needed to overcome. I craved having some influence in other’s lives and to perhaps make some friends along the way. So I came up with 3 things to implement in my life to increase the amount of meaningful social interactions I have and perhaps increase my popularity. Here was the game plan I came up with. I think I stumbled across the recipe for world peace. (Okay maybe that is over exaggerating but it does work well).

 How not to be lonely

The solution:

1. Create meaningful interactions with people

Aim to make your common interactions more meaningful. Its helpful to keep in mind that the person on the other end of the phone or behind the counter at the store is a person, with a life and a whole different set of experiences to yours. You don’t have to spend more time than you would normally spend around people. Our schedules don’t really allow for changes that include more time with others anyway.

You can make your interactions more meaningful by practicing looking people in the eye when handing them your cash at the store. Ask “How are you?” or “How has your day been?” or pay the stranger a compliment if you feel there’s something worthwhile to mention. This advice might seem silly to some but it’s a small step to opening yourself up to others and increasing your popularity.

Friendliness is greatly appreciated by most and will foster confidence in yourself. By initiating conversation you’re opening yourself up to possible negative reactions (but at the end of the day if you’re met by a bad attitude you can just point and laugh at the grumpy person). By actively starting conversations I’ve found that most people love talking about themselves and appreciate others showing an interest in them.

By creating meaningful interactions with people, people in places that you frequent are more likely to remember you and this in turn will have an effect on the way that people react to you in the future.

2. Give a little (with the emphasis on “little”)

I’m not suggesting being selfless with your time, money and effort to the extent that you burden yourself. You’re allowed to be selective with the resources (eg. time and money) you give away. Most of us have full plates already and the last thing being charitable should make you feel, is burdened. So decide what you could possibly do for someone to make their lives a little easier and to what degree you’re willing to commit to doing things for others.

I’m giving you permission to say “No” to dropping your colleague off at the buss stop that is not en route to your house after work when all you want to do is go home and nap. A good way to start giving a little is, for example, carrying someone’s groceries to their car or making someone a cup of coffee. I, for instance, had made study notes earlier in the year and came across a student who had failed the module and would have to redo it, so I go into contact with her and offered to send her my notes.

Small gestures will make others react more positively to you. Good intentions go far in the way of reaching out to people and will make people open up to you to in a positive way. (There is a fine line between giving a little and being suck up so watch your balance there).

3. Let people know you’re thinking of them

People react well to others taking an interest in them and a short message or phone call goes a long way in building friendships. So take a second to imagine how you would react if you got a message on Facebook from a long lost friend to tell you that they had this crazy memory and reminisced about the past a bit. You’d probably be delightfully taken aback that someone you had forgot existed said they were thinking of you.

Most people go through their lives feeling isolated, unworthy, unloved, unpopular or unrecognized. Some people who I admire and look up struggle with feelings like these and the only possible explanation is that they have no way to know that people look up to them, think of them or love them. Stop the cycle of loneliness and isolation and reach out to people you find noteworthy.

What are your tips and tricks for increasing your popularity and avoiding feelings of isolation? Do you struggle with starting conversations with people? Please share your thoughts and ideas.

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