Twenty years ago, most people would have never imagined that they could use their cell phone to see and speak to people all over the world. In many ways, people are more connected than they have ever been in history. They can log onto any number of social media platforms to catch up with friends and family at anytime and anywhere. When people have access to a smart phone, a tablet, or a computer, they are never alone. Unfortunately, that does not mean they are never lonely. Just as people can be in a crowded room and feel alone, so they can be on Facebook, FaceTime, Twitter, Google Chat, Snapchat, and Instagram but still feel lonely. In fact, the growing epidemic of loneliness and isolation is well-researched.
Whether it is online or in-person, being near people and feeling connected with them are two distinct activities.
People might be sharing what movie they want to see this weekend, but are they sharing about the goals they want to achieve this year and their fears about reaching for something they want? Feeling connected may involving taking and posting selfies, but it also involves much more. When people share their true selves with their friends and family, they feel known and loved. When they cannot share their lives, they often feel lonely and unloved.
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness,
and the feeling of being unloved.” —Mother Teresa
Loneliness and isolation are becoming significant challenges that people face, but many are learning to build meaningful community, both online and in-person. As Mother Teresa exhorts, they are learning to give and receive love. In doing so, they are fighting the terrible poverty of loneliness. Often, they are working with a mental health professional to guide them along the way.
Thriveworks Lynchburg has counselors and therapists who have taught their clients the social skills they need to pursue deep relationships and meaningful community.
A Few Tips for Fighting Loneliness
People can learn new ways to relate. In many ways, social skills are just like muscles. Some people may have more natural athletic ability than others, but everyone can grow stronger. The same holds true for social skills. Most people know someone who is truly gifted with creating and maintaining meaningful relationships, but anyone can work on their ability to form strong relationships. Here are a few ways to do just that…
Tip #1: Turn off your TV.
What are a few of the most famous and longest-running TV shows? MASH, Grey’s Anatomy, Parks and Rec, Lost, Cheers, Gilmore Girls, Frasier, The Big Bang Theory, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Modern Family, Scrubs, Sex and the City, Friends, Seinfeld…to name a few.
All of these shows have a common theme: community. They depict close friends and tight-knit families who share their lives. For many faithful fans, they are drawn to the show because of the connections they see lived out on screen, and fans can feel a personal connection as well—as if they are part of the family.
Unfortunately, TV can never produce the real relationships for which people long. Instead of watching close friends meet up for brunch, people should turn the TV off and ask their friends out to brunch. Instead of watching a TV family take a crazy vacation, people should plan a crazy vacation with their family.
When people spend less time watching TV and more time with their friends and family, they rarely miss shows. Instead, they often gain better friends, healthier relationships with family members, and more connection.
Tip #2: Build Up an Inner Circle.
Not everyone in your life will be a dear friend, but everyone should have a few deep friendships—inner circle friends. These friends are the ones you call when you have a success or a failure or an emergency. Inner circle friends make life less lonely. These are three key characteristics of an inner-circle friend:
- You interact with them outside of the context where you originally met them. Acquaintances are convenient, and when that convenience ends, so does the relationship. Inner circle friends follow each other into different contexts.
- You can simply be together. Inner circle friends are happy to go shopping, host poker night, or catch a movie together, but they are also happy to ditch these activities and just talk when necessary. Inner circle friends know what is happening in each other’s lives because they talk and listen to each other.
- You trust them, and they trust you. Inner circle friends are your go-to people. If you have a bad day, they are not judgmental but supportive. You can return the favor for them.
Build Community—Coaching and Counseling at Thriveworks Lynchburg
If you are one of the many people who are experiencing social isolation and loneliness, consider reaching out for help. Community can be built when people know how, and many people are working with a mental health professional to learn. At Thriveworks, we have many clients who want guidance as they overcome their loneliness and build stronger connections with friends and family members.
When you call our office to schedule an appointment, you may be meeting with a counselor or coach the following day. We offer evening and weekend appointments, but we do not keep a waitlist. We also accept most insurance plans.
Let’s work together. Contact Thriveworks Lynchburg today.