Riding out the waves

emptychairx72Accept it, you WILL get lonely. There’s a reason it’s called ‘waves of loneliness,’  cause it comes in waves and then it GOES.   Loneliness is just a feeling, and feelings come and go. You can help keep it to a dull roar with some preparation, and if you can’t then you just have to wait it out until it passes.  If you fill your life with ‘other things’ to think about, then these waves can be reduced in frequency and severity.

Methods to inoculate yourself against loneliness.

  • Converse with real people online everyday. Facebook, text messages, emails, reddit – whatever works for you.  Stir up conversations with actual people. Not just commenting or replying, but an actual exchange of ideas. Find someone on reddit or whereever who is into something you are into and start exchanging direct messages.
  • Talk to people on the phone during the week, friends or family it doesn’t matter.  I have a few friends who live nowhere near me whom I can call on the phone and chat, usually long enough to drain the battery on my phone.  The key here is to NOT wait until you are so down in the dumps that you make the phone call such a tragedy that the person on the other end has to do the heavy lifting of bringing up YOUR spirits.  One friend and I call each other when we are on long car drives, and use the phone call to stay awake.   Times when you are doing stupid things like laundry or cleaning are ideal for these sort of calls.
  • Talk to the people that you meet during the day; open your mouth, say please and thank you, make eye contact to strangers (except on the subway or the bus) clerks, waitresses, bus drivers doesn’t matter,  Have a short casual conversation with people at the library or at the grocery store it doesn’t matter  all these interactions give you a tiny dose of interaction to your subconscious.
  • img_9263Make some new acquaintances, perhaps you will find a new friends.   In the 2 years I have been in my new city, I have made a number of new acquaintances…people I see on a regular basis, and I made one really good friend. I think that’s a good ratio.
  • Find things to DO. For this you will have to get out of the damn house, this is essential.   Use meetup, craigslist, bulletin boards, local classifieds, especially those free newspapers.  There are hundreds of ways to meet people.  You have to meet a lot of people to find ones that share your same interests.
  • Get a few hobbies.  Join a knitting or a weaving group, or a spin class. Take ukulele or cooking classes.  Find people to hike with.  Go to comedy clubs, join a bowling league.   Do it repeatedly not just once.    Remember to enjoy yourself, you goal is to try new things and have new experiences, you will meet people as a matter of course.  No one wants to make friends with the grumpy kid in the back of the class.
  • The best and easiest way to meet people is to start volunteering.   Within the 1st few months I moved, I started  volunteering with a local non profit to restore bikes, and whenever I felt lonely I would go down and clean bikes and talk to people.   Community Emergency Response teams are always looking for people, no experience required the training is free.  Nursing homes and hospitals are always looking for volunteers, even if you are just reading out loud to people.  And if you say ‘that’s not something I can do, then you aren’t all that lonely, quit your bitchin’.

There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely.  Loneliness passes, you need to interact with other people to fight it.   You are not alone.. we are all out here. So we are alone together.  You have to work at it.

Links
Gretchen Rubin Happiness Podcast
Huffington Post – How to Fight Loneliness
WSJ – When Being Alone Turns Into Loneliness, There Are Ways to Fight Back
10 Tips to Kick Loneliness to the Curb
Six Ways to Fight Loneliness If You Live Alone

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