By Marli Naidoo
People are inherently social and the human brain is wired to rely on social connections for survival. The absence of these connections activate the same alarm as hunger, thirst and physical pain.
In spite of people living closer to each other and the wold getting smaller, isolation and loneliness are
sharply on the increase. Isolation can lead to loneliness, despair and depression.
There is a common misconception that lonely people have poor social skills. Research, however, show that they are socially well equipped and can even read social clues better than many who are not lonely.
Loneliness is not a hopeless condition. There are steps that one can take to counteract these feelings to develop more meaningful social connections in your life.
Practice compassion on yourself. The fact that you feel lonesome does not mean that there is something wrong with you inherently. Be loving and gentle with yourself. Say to yourself that you too, like anybody else, deserve to enjoy meaningful connections with other people.
Get more involved with social groups. Choose activities that you enjoy, attend classes or join a club.
Ask yourself at what times you feel most lonely and then find something to do during those times. You can go for a walk, exercise, meditate or call a friend.
Think outside yourself. Generosity is a natural foe of self-hate, which comes with loneliness. Find a charity organisation where you can help out on a voluntary basis. Not only will you be working on something meaningful with others, you will also be working on your self-image, which can lead to more social behaviour.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Every person is valuable and has something to give. Make a list of all your good qualities and read it to yourself every day.
Surround yourself with sincere people who can build you up and accept you for what you are.
Be aware of negative thoughts and don’t accept them as facts. For instance, when the thought arises that you are not good enough, that social interactions are always negative, or that somebody is quiet because he is angry at you, you must consider and try to explain these thoughts, and then tell yourself that it is not necessarily true. Give yourself positive explanations and clarifications to replace the negative thoughts.
This is the key to the door that leads you away from loneliness. Some people are very social and go out regularly, but are still lonely. It has been found that the change to positive thoughts really make a difference when it comes to loneliness.
Psych Alive: https://www.psychalive.org/isolation-and-loneliness/
Psych Central: https://psychcentral.com/blog/5-undeniable-ways-to-stop-feeling-extremely-lonely/
Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-science-success/201010/the-cure-loneliness