Five Ways to Fight Loneliness
Five Ways to Fight Loneliness
“Another day another night inside a lonely world”…lyrics I don’t want to live by.
Isn’t it amazing that we live on a planet with 7.4 billion people, yet, there is an epidemic of loneliness? One author even described it as “crowded loneliness.” Loneliness isn’t confined to certain people. Loneliness doesn’t care if you’re rich, poor, young, old, healthy, sick, beautiful, smart, talented…it has no boundaries.
How does this happen? How do we find ourselves in a place with no one to share our struggles or joys? Did we fail at Friendship 101? I know for myself, I went through a season were I felt like an epic failure at friendship. It was a difficult time and a difficult journey. Thankfully, I can look back and give myself a “time traveling wink” in how I grew as a person and a friend.
First, hit the reset button. I had to “reset” my own thoughts and behaviors when developing friendships. I had to take responsibility for the areas where I was at fault. In the areas where I had no control, I chose to forgive, and I work hard to not speaking poorly of that situation or the person.
Second, make relationships a core value. Relationships are complicated and at times downright messy! They take a lot of work, but they are so worth it for the emotional health of living a full life. But when I elevated this value in my life, I went out of my way to cultivate healthy friendships.
Third, embrace the power of Scripture to support your value for friendship. For example, pushing back fear is essential in developing healthy relationships, so I’ve turned to 2 Timothy 1:7 to help me create a strong foundation for friendships:
2 Timothy 1:7 – For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
• “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear” – God doesn’t want us to live in fear or cause others to be fearful of us. Fear creates chaos and havoc in our brain, which creates havoc in our relationships.
• “But of Power” – God gives us the ability to make powerful connections. One of the best examples of powerful connections is to ask, “What do you need?” What you are essentially saying is “what do you need me to do to help show you connection?”
• “and of Love” – God is Love. He desires to connect with you! If you have lived in a fear-based relationship, you may think he is out to punish you. The opposite is actually true! God wants to love on us and connect with us. As we receive God’s love, we can in turn take that love and share it with others.
• “and of a Sound Mind” – God gives you the ability to be a victor with a powerful sound mind. A sound mind is so important to our friendships and our well-being. Like anything else, it takes discipline. Learn to focus on the goodness of God, through prayer, worship, reading, and laughing. You will be amazed how over time, positive thoughts will be the dominant belief in your responses to yourself and others.
Fourth, take initiative with manners. Without initiative, friendships rarely form. And this initiative usually begins with the simplest manners. For example, don’t be the second person to say “hello!” Make it a practice in your home or work to greet others. This is such a simple behavior that is rarely practiced. How many times have you walked into work or home and noticed the lack of “hello’s”? Manners require no skill or talent!
Finally, teach people how to treat you. In her TED Talk, Dr. Laura Trice, after years of working in rehab facilities, recognized the common core of her patient’s hurts: not hearing “I love you or thank you” from loved ones. She shares an unconventional method of asking others for affirmations. We ask for a size 6½ shoe, more bread for the table, and help bringing in the groceries, but we shy away from asking for praise from those we need to hear it the most. Sometimes we need to ask “What can you thank me for today?” And yes, this does make you vulnerable and awkward. They will see this as an important need they can meet or reject. It’s ok to ask those around you for some positive affirmations! This practice says loud and clear, “You matter, and so do I”.
Matthew 25:23 says, “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!
What a strange verse to use to close this conversation! But I believe it paints a beautiful picture of verbal affirmation modeled by Jesus. One day when I enter into His kingdom, I pray I’ll hear Jesus say, “Karen, well done sweet girl!” Can you imagine hearing Him say your name! Don’t hold back giving positive praises to others, because God won’t hold back when that time comes for you.