Overcoming Loneliness and the Cycle of Self-Destructive Thinking
People tend to think that overcoming loneliness is all about building connections with other people. As a result, most of the advice that you will hear when you tell someone that you are feeling lonely can be paraphrased as “what’s the problem? Just get out there and meet more people.”
Overcoming Loneliness, Especially in Our 60s, Isn’t that Simple
The problem is that loneliness and other negative states of mind go hand in hand. When we feel lonely, happiness and positivity are hard to find. It’s almost as if social contact is essential to the working of our inner-minds. Likewise, the more disconnected we feel from ourselves, the harder we find it to relate to others and make new friends.
As Harriet Goldhor Lerner said, “Only through our connectedness to others can we really know and enhance the self and only through working on the self can we begin to enhance our connectedness to others.”
If we want to break this cycle, we need to start somewhere. Either, we need to find an anchor of social intimacy – a good friend or trusted family member – or, we need to build our own self confidence by exploring our passions and living our dreams.
In my experience, either approach can work. That said…
The problem with trying to address loneliness by relying on new relationships is that it puts our fate in the hands of others.
You can’t guarantee that by going to a party you will meet an interesting person. But, you can control how much you exercise and which passions you pursue. You can set personal goals for yourself and build your self-confidence. You can simplify your life and fill your home with things that make you happy. You can build the confidence that you need to go out and explore the world.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you agree that defeating loneliness requires us to break the negative cycle of social isolation on the one hand and negative thoughts and self-talk on the other? Why or why not? Please join the discussion below.