If You are Feeling Lonely
If after reading through The Lonely Files series, you find yourself relating to the loneliness, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. A lot of people feel this way throughout their lifetimes; especially after finishing school, where you are automatically surrounded by your peer group. If you look at your week and realize your spending a lot more of your time than you’d like in solitude, here are a few reminders to focus on.
- Remember that it gets better. Loneliness truly happens to all of us in one way or another through out our lifetimes. The good news is that it doesn’t have to last your entire lifetime. You have the power to move past loneliness.
- Take one little step. Stepping away from loneliness is a choice that you have to make for yourself, no one else can make it for you. Once you decide you don’t want to be lonely any longer, it only takes a small bit of courage to move forward.
Even if your step is one tiny, little step, MAKE IT. Say hello to a stranger. Find a group you are interested in joining. Make a list of the kind of friends you’d like to meet.
- Take another little step. Once you’ve dipped your toe in the water, dip it in again. Say hello to another stranger, and another, until it becomes second nature. Consider joining a group. Go to meet up. Take a class at a craft store, gym, or yoga studio; how about a cooking class, or a self defense class?
- Use your resources. Look for bloggers in your area through the location pages at Healthy Living Blogs. Check out your local library and book stores for book clubs or other meeting groups that may meet there. Check out the community section on Craigslist. Search for classes online that interest you. Check out MeetUp.com, which covers any number of interests. Join a running club. Visit a church. Read the bulletin boards at the coffee shop or Panara. Get involved in community theater. Volunteer somewhere. GET OUT THERE.
- Be prepared to grow. Because if you continue to take one step at a time, and make the decision to stop to being lonely, that’s what’s going to happen. You are going to change- probably over time- until you find yourself giving “how to meet people” advice to others.
How to Talk to Strangers [or people you barely know]
- Think of the most confident, outgoing person you know. The person who is always starting conversations with the barista, the waitress, the other people in line. Think about how this person can strike conversation with anyone, and it’s no sweat. ACT LIKE THIS PERSON. When you find yourself faced with an opportunity to talk to someone you don’t know, imagine how your confident friend would handle the situation. How would he stand? What expression is on her face? Pretend you are your friend and try and handle to situation as if you were as confident and outgoing as he/she.
- When you are headed to a social situation, make a mental list of 2-3 talking points. This is a great trick I use for parties in which I only know the host, and no other guests. [I also used it at the Healthy Living Summit, this past summer.] Think about subjects you would easy chat with your co-workers about. A classic movie you recently saw for the first time, a new restaurant in town, or a trip you will be taking soon, are all great examples. The best subjects are ones that easily lead to other topics; in this example – the conversation can easily move to other movies seen recently or favorites, other places to visit in town, or favorite vacation spots.
- Have a go-to question you rely on. A go-to question is a fairly generic question that gets the conversation rolling forward when you find yourself at a dead spot. My go-to question appeared over time – I didn’t realize I had been using it with several people I had been meeting until I’d already used it at least a dozen times. When I feel like the conversation needs movement, I often ask, “Are you from this area originally?”
This is a great go-to question because, although you can ask it to just about anyone you ask, you will always get a different answer. Also, the conversation can go in several different directions, as you learn more about the history of the person you are talking to.
Tip: When you ask your new friends questions, try to stay away from questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no".
- Compliment. When all else fails, and you feel like you have nothing to say, compliment the person you are speaking with, and be prepared to ask a follow up question. “Those are lovely earrings, where did you get them?” or “I love your accent! Where did you grow up?”, for example.
- LISTEN. Be genuine in getting to know more about the person you are talking to. Do not think about what you are going to say next; that creates a lot of pressure for yourself and robs you of the pleasure of good conversation. Be attentive to what is being said and the conversation will naturally flow.
- Embrace Pauses. Don’t allow them to be “awkward.” Pauses are not a bad thing. It’s okay to gather your thoughts and think about what you are going to say before you say it. Don’t force yourself to say something for the sake of filling space. Words will come. RELAX.
- BONUS TIP: When introducing people, tell them a small tidbit about each person you introduce. This gives everyone in the group a bit of back ground information to base a conversation on going forward. For example: “Bill, this Jill. Jill has the most adorable puppy in the world, Jackson. Bill studied abroad in Paris last semester.” Bill and Jill now have two great topics to jump start their conversation.
You earn extra points if what you share about your friends is relatable to one another. For example: “Mandy, this is Stephanie. Stephanie recently moved here from Texas. Mandy’s parents have lived in Houston the last few years.” Bingo – I tip my [cowboy] hat to you, introduction superstar!
Thanks to Arnold and Oroweat for sponsoring the 2010 Healthy Living Summit and sharing these photos.