Loneliness happens for many reasons. It can occur when someone relocates to a new city, completes their schooling, retires, separates or divorces from their significant other, or loses their pet or spouse to death. It is also possible for a person to feel alone even when they are with a spouse or surrounded by many other people. Any individual who feels that they do not have a close emotional bond to those who they associate with will feel lonely.
Each individual has a social network of people who they associate with. These networks generally consist of a spouse family, friends, business associates, social contacts, and casual acquaintances. Our social contacts are who we depend on to help keep us safe from financial, physical, and emotional harm. If your social network is weak it can leave you vulnerable.
We all have a number of people surrounding us but if our social network is not strong then it can leave us vulnerable to hurt. For this reason it is very important to develop a good system which can be there beside us throughout life's ups and down.
Anyone can improve their social network. It may take time and patience but developing a strong system is well worth the time invested into creating it. In addition to helping keep loneliness at bay it will also help to keep you safer should emergencies arise.
We sometimes do not realize how very many other people exist within our little corner of the world so seeing our social network in black and white can help us visualize how strong it is, and see ways that we can improve it.
I want you to get a sheet of paper and a pen so we can draw out your social network. It will look similar to the diagram here. First draw a small circle at the centre of the paper. This first circle is officially your little section of the world.
Now draw another circle around that circle, and then another larger circle, and yet a fourth larger circle around all the others. These four circles represent your social network. Having your social network securely set up will leave you less vulnerable to loneliness.
Within the very first circle is yourself. Now we need to discover which other people are a part of your support system, where the weak spots are, and how it can be repaired so you won’t feel so lonely in the future. Having a strong social network will help decrease your current loneliness and should also help to reduce the trauma of any future periods of loneliness.
The individuals who you will place within the second circle will usually be a spouse, close family members, and best friends. These are the individuals who have the closest emotional bonds to you. These individuals are also your first line of defence against loneliness. There should always be between two and five people in this circle and never less than two people here.
Depending upon the role that this person played in your life losing this all important close emotional bond is often why a deep sense of loneliness will occur. This is why having a strong second circle can help prevent this deep sense of loss from occurring in the future. Keeping these emotional bonds strong will help to keep these individuals close to you.
The outer circles of your network will hold the most people. In the third social network circle. You will place your other friends, other family members, and close business associates and social peers. This social circle should always have more individuals within it than the smaller circle above it.
If something should happen to one of the social contacts who you are emotionally closest to then the individuals within this third circle are options for you to move upwards into the second circle of your social network. The third circle is your second line of defence against loneliness.
The fourth social network circle is your final line of defence against loneliness and it consists of all the other people who you associate or come in contact with. This circle may include people who you see at your local social club, grocery store, department store, drug mart, or school. Any person who you encounter throughout the day but who you do not have an emotional bond to can fit within this circle. Any of these individuals can at any time be moved upwards into the higher circles.
Outside of the four social circles is where everyone else in your community, state, province, country, or even the world exist. At any time you may become closer to someone outside of your circles and have this person then become a part of your social network system.
We all have a social network system in place but we just may not realize it. Looking at our support system helps us to insure that it is strong enough to provide for our social needs. If any of your upper circles are a little bare then this could be the reason why you are feeling lonely.
Looking at your social network diagram you may already be able to see areas where this can be done. So how do you find new friendships? Well what you ideally want to do is socialize with others who have similar interests to yourself. These are the people who you will be most likely to form a bond with. This means that not only do you have to get yourself out of the house but you have to get out where you can socialize with other people who have something in common with you. There are many ways that you can do this.
1. Join a club, gym, social or sports group that interests you.
3. Get seasons passes to a local sporting event. Being somewhere on a regular basis gives you an opportunity to get to know others who also attend these events on a regular basis.
4. Attend your local church or other community events. Check the community section of your local paper and phone book for ideas.
5. If you are looking for a love interest then check the singles column of your local paper. Investigate online singles websites, but be wary, protect yourself first and foremost whenever you are meeting or talking to a stranger.
6. Have your friends or family introduce you to people they know who you may have something in common with.
7. Volunteer to help out at a local charity.It can take time to build a strong network but it is so worth it.
8. Social Network: You can find a wide variety of interest groups on the social network giant Facebook so using the same rules as previously mentioned, search out your areas of common interest and connect with others of like passions or hobbies. I'm sure there are plenty to look into but no matter where you play on the internet just insure you play safe. Not everyone online is who they say they are.
A confident attitude accompanied by a smile is a very attractive signal to send to other people. Don't ever be afraid to smile and make conversation with the people who you encounter throughout your day.
Today it may just be a smile that you share with someone but maybe tomorrow or the week after that it will be a conversation that you stop to share. Then perhaps a week or a month after that you may share a coffee, a meal, or a date.
You won't ever know where a chance meeting will take you unless you smile and say hello. Relationships take time to create but they are a very important aspect of our emotional well being and so worth the time we invest into developing them.
It is very important to create a strong social network for yourself. As social creatures we desire friends to accompany us through the good times and a strong support system to encourage us through the low times. It is all simply a part of being human. There are a lot of other people out there looking for the same things that you are. You just have to find them.
For some people it is shyness, insecurity, or an introvert personality that is getting in the way of their connecting with those around them. It happens. For you I highly recommend taking an Assertive Training Course whether online, in person, or on your own. The principles are simple and easy to learn. I suffered from shyness throughout most of my youth. Then while taking a business training course at our local college I received within it an assertiveness training course. It was to be one of the most important learning experiences that I would ever receive. It changed my life.
Close friendships and lasting love relationships do take time to nurture so be patient as you work at gaining these. If you sincerely strive toward finding them then with your persistence in creating these emotional bonds will happen.
Emotional bonds don't usually form overnight so give yourself sufficient time to enact this change into your life. Most good things do take time to achieve. The good news is that your loneliness will begin to ease as you strengthen your social network circles and once your support system is stronger you will have a much less likelihood of going through this degree of loneliness again.
Related Articles by Lorelei Cohen