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Coping with Loneliness in 4 Super Easy Steps
Humans are social beings—for spiritual, psychological and physical reasons. Since the dawn of mankind we have evolved to work and be with others—from the way our primitive ancestors worked together to hunt down beasts much larger than them to the way we work to construct a building or produce our food. Interpersonal interaction, therefore, is what makes us humans. That is why when we are lonely—that dreaded feeling of seemingly unbridgeable separateness—it all feels fundamentally wrong. Coping with loneliness is therefore an important issue that must be addressed, and fortunately, it is something that can be relatively easy to deal with. The next time you feel a pang of loneliness, know that you have these five effective steps to cope with it.
1. Learn to appreciate being alone
Most people equate being alone with being lonely. However, the former is a physical fact, whereas the latter is a state of mind—you can be in the middle of so many people, yet still feel unbearably lonely. The first important step in coping with loneliness is accepting the virtues of being alone. When you’re with no one, you should recognize that there are many fruitful things you can do. Although perhaps you cannot help but feel lonely sometimes, there are things you can do to “feel full” in a spiritual sense—write, build something, create an art work, or just read a good book. You are not a loser just because there is no one with you; rather, learn to see these moments of alone time as opportunities for self-actualization.
2. Learn social skills
Most lonely people feel a deep sense of discomfort whenever they are in a social setting, especially if they have not been socializing for a long time. But contrary to popular assumption, social skills can actually be learned in the same way porcupines learn to deal with one another: by doing so very carefully. You can take part in classes for social skills training offered in adult institutions or at certain colleges or universities. In any case, even the little attempts at reaching out to someone can help: you can smile and have a little chat with the lady who sells you fruit, or that green grocer, or with your own neighbor. Just small talk, to start the gears rolling. In time, you’ll discover that these little efforts at being friendly can have amazing rewards.
3. Work as a volunteer
By giving your time to help others, you take away the focus from your own situation to other people who need more immediate help. Spend a few hours each day (if your work allows it) or each week as a volunteer at some organization, whether it’s socio-civic, political or art-related. What’s more, working as a volunteer provides a rich opportunity to meet people in a natural, non-awkward setting. You meet new people and make new friends—what can go wrong with that?
As always, you must realize that loneliness is a mental state—it is all in the mind. When you think about it, this planet is populated with 7 billion people—how can you, surrounded by people from all walks of life, be lonely? It’s always a matter of opening your mental eyes to see the truth—that if you would only keep your heart and mind open, you will see that you have no reason to feel lonely. That’s why meditating to rid your mind of that infectious sense of loneliness is one of the most empowering methods of coping with loneliness. As it is a largely mental state, meditation can directly go to the root cause and wage its battle right where the action is: in the mind. Regular meditation can—slowly but surely—wilt away that gnawing sense of loneliness and replace it with the deep sense of being in tune with the universe.