As we age, many of us tend to isolate ourselves and get stuck into monotonous living patterns. Until one day, we wake up with this knawing feeling of loneliness and realize we are by ourselves or surrounded by people, yet are experiencing this inescapable feeling of loneliness that we can’t seem to eradicate. This doesn't have to be the case for you. As a society— and I am primarily referencing America for now — continues to move in the direction of more intentional isolation with the ongoing digital age takeover, it will remain pivotal to maintain our mental health and relationships with others (and yourself), which will require diligence, consistency, and self-awareness.
Lesson 1: Loneliness
Loneliness has overtaken many parts of the world; it affects people in masses. In America, being friendly with neighbors is not as common as it used to be decades ago.
Why? I would say the news plays a big part in this outcome. Much of our content and media is negative and invokes fear and suspicion, which many of us have allowed to infiltrate our spirits. Consequently, we have become more skeptical and isolated. But not everyone is like this. So there is hope. But even for the mass of skeptical people, many feel lonely and seek relationships.
Loneliness is a dark feeling, a depressing feeling with a foundational belief that one is alone and unsupported. I want to let you know that you are not alone. When you feel lonely, remember there are over seven billion people in the world, and many of these people are feeling lonely, too, looking for or in need of a friend and support just like you are.
Lesson 2: It Starts With You
If you are dealing with loneliness, it starts with you.
Something within yourself is attracting loneliness and repelling togetherness and supportiveness. We are not alone because of outer circumstances; we are alone because of our inner circumstances, our thought patterns, how we interact with others, how we communicate with others, and our energy emanating within ourselves.
What energy, vibes, and attitude are you giving off to people as of late?
Lesson 3: How Is Your Relationship With Yourself?
How would you describe your relationship with yourself?
Do you enjoy spending time with yourself?
Do you feel comfortable eating alone, doing activities alone, or living by yourself?
How much time do you spend by yourself regularly?
Sometimes, indeed we are spending too much time in isolation, which can inevitably lead to loneliness.
A more profound type of loneliness is when we are lonely yet surrounded by people.
Which type of loneliness are you dealing with?
Suppose you are dealing with the first type of loneliness [isolation]. In that case, it is time to put yourself out there by attending groups, events and starting conversations with people wherever you go until it feels comfortable for you to do this. It is time for you to invest your time and energy into meeting with other people consistently. As you start to do this, you will notice a change in yourself, feelings, emotional health, spiritual health, and mental health. But first, you must spring yourself out there in the uncounted communities waiting for you.
Surrounded by people
If you are dealing with the second type of loneliness [feeling lonely, yet people surround you], here are some questions you need to explore:
1. What kind of people am I surrounded by?
2. Do I have other enriching relationships outside of the people I am surrounded by?
3. Do I enjoy the people I am surrounded by now?
4. Why do I still feel lonely?
What are your answers to these questions? Take your time to explore and write down your answers to these questions. Don't rush through them. Continually ponder and ask yourself these questions to grasp a deeper understanding of yourself and your current feelings of loneliness.
Lesson 4: Are You Enriching Others?
One of the initial steps to formalizing healthy friendships and relationships with others is to be an enriching person. Are you giving to others the way you want others to give to you? Are you investing time, effort, and consistency in other relationships without expecting anything return?
We shouldn't over-give, but we should give generously, without strings attached. If you feel uncomfortable giving your time, effort, and generosity to others without expectations, you are most likely not ready for an enriching relationship with someone. Until you can give, give, and give, you must continue to focus on building a reservoir of generosity within yourself; this applies even if you have been giving others the majority of your life. You might feel that you have been too generous or have spent years investing in others' lives. But remember, to receive, we must give and be of service to others. This well of generosity should never dry up, and if it does, we need to engage in self-reflection and see how we can restore our well of generosity with healthy boundaries in place.
Lesson 5: Get Specific
Write down everything you want for all of the new relationships you seek. Don't just write down the traits you would like in a person. Write down everything you want to experience, feel, and become with the new relationships you seek. Write down the type of conversations you want to have. Write down the level of openness you want to experience. Write down the kind of personality traits you are looking for. Write down the types of experiences, activities, and trips you want to take. Write down everything.
Life gives you general when you ask for general. But life gives you specific [precisely what you want] when you ask for specific.
Lesson 6: Love Yourself
Before we go any further, I want to remind you to love yourself unconditionally. This is the first step for building new relationships with others.
Be your own best friend. Be kind, loving, gentle, thoughtful, affirming, and positive toward yourself. If you have a healthy relationship with yourself, if you can prioritize your relationship with yourself, if you can be in love with yourself, if you can quickly forgive yourself for errors you have made, if you can laugh at and with yourself, then you are in a good place. Once you love yourself—completely—you are ready to love someone else and be emotionally available when they reciprocate that love to you.
Destiny S. Harris is a writer, poet, entrepreneur, teacher, and techie who offers free books daily on amazon. Destiny obtained three degrees in political science, psychology, and women’s studies. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, or @ destinyh.com