Escaping The Loneliness Trap
According to Psychology Today, in 2010, roughly 40 percent of Americans reported feeling lonely on a regular basis compared to 20% in the 80s. I’m not American, nor do I know what the figures for 2018 and the rest of the world are, but I’m guessing they’re not good.
Before we dive into it, let’s just go ahead and blame the Internet and Social Media at large for making addicts and hermits of us all. One could argue we’d be better off addicted to crack!
“We are social beings evolved in an anti-social world seeking social validation from an anti-social platform.”
Say that 10 times fast!
The Internet and Social Media are here to stay, and I’m not going to be the one to start a mainstream crack movement, so let’s move it along.
According to the Internet’s most reliable source, Wikipedia…
“Loneliness typically includes anxious feelings about a lack of connection or communication with other beings, both in the present and extending into the future. As such, loneliness can be felt even when surrounded by other people.”
Basically, loneliness sucks balls. I don’t know about you, but I hate seeing people who are noticeably sad, lonely, and maybe too shy to do anything about it because society has scared the shit out of them to the point they’re living in absolute terror.
What is the worst punishment a prisoner can be given? Solitary. The reason for this? It causes them to lose their mind. Unfortunately, these days you can experience that sort of isolation in your mind without having to step foot in a prison.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that pervasive loneliness is linked to all sorts of horrible shit from depression, anxiety, heart disease, and even suicide. It’s a complex subject matter I know, but if a lack of connection is at the root of the cause, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone to hear that being part of a community (OFFLINE) can have a major impact on happiness and health.
If loneliness is something you struggle with, fear not my friend, because the number of those experiencing loneliness is steadily on the rise.
And why the fuck should I celebrate that Nicky?
I’m glad you asked. Supply and demand. You get a rare surplus of both. Economics never aroused me, but I think what I’m trying to communicate is that you can find good quality friends without having to pay a hefty price — metaphorically speaking. If a large portion of society are seeking connection, it makes your job of connecting with them a hell of a lot easier.
The bad news is that you actually have to make an effort. I know, I know — you want it all and you want it now. Tough shit! Proper relationships take time to develop. Having said that, here’s a pro tip to help expedite the process: Ask questions and listen.
Most people feel they have to sell themselves which gives rise to anxiety. If everybody is trying to sell themselves — why not be the one who listens? There’s a massive demand for that with very little supply. Social economics 101. This is an aside, but fuck me, I’m blowing my own mind here. Be more interested in hearing their story than you are in telling yours. Do that and you’ll have way more friends than you want — so do it scarcely. And if they turn out to be a self-absorbed asshole — swipe left and move on. Make a game out of it and audition people without them knowing. It’s your world your creating, so why not call the shots and have some fun in the process?
What makes up happiest in life?
Connection and belonging. Forget your likes, forget being an online influencer or a fucking public figure, forget being rich, forget being extraordinary, forget having to fix every inadequacy you have because you’ve been conditioned by society to believe you’re inadequate—and a useless bastard you’ll remain until you fix it all. Forget it all. It’s crap. The role of most governments, corporations, and industries is to make you feel inadequate so you buy into their system, or purchase their products for that little hit of happiness.
Welcome to modern day living where fear is what starves us and happiness what fuels us.
Maybe you’re trying to build your own empire, and instead of turning to others for support when battered by emotion, you hide and suffer in silence? Maybe you idolize Gary Vee and have decided to not take your head out your ass for the next 5 years and just man the fuck up through the turbulence? Maybe you’re shy and suffer from social anxiety so when you walk into a place buzzing with people you think to yourself, “fuck, I can’t talk to them. What would I even say?” Bullshit you can’t. You just have to go about it in a non-threatening way that works for you instead of pretending to be someone you’re not.
You’ve got to be strategic and committed to doing something about it because it’s your responsibility. None of this is complicated. It’s just made out to be. More often than not, you’re just dealing with bad habits.
So, what can you do to combat loneliness in your life?
1. ATTEND NETWORKING AND SOCIAL EVENTS
You have to step out of your comfort zone to meet and connect with like-minded individuals. This is as important, if not, more important than your work or business. Give it the time it deserves, and seek out events where you’re likely to find those you’ll connect best with.
2. STICK YOUR NECK OUT
Ask people for coffee, lunch, drinks etc. Ask can you attend a party. Ask for advice. Offer to help someone. Don’t expect everything to just fall into place and for people to know what a great a person you are without you even showing them.
3. BE PATIENT
Good friendships aren’t born from one piss up. This is probably not great advice, but it would be wrong of me to sit here typing and say alcohol doesn’t help when most of my best friendships over the past decade were born from alcohol. But I’ve grown up. I’m a professional now. Having said that, if a drink is going to help put you at ease, whose business is that? Real friendships take time to come to fruition. Everything is offered in an instant online which results in expectations so far removed from reality you’d need Buzz Lightyear to come to the rescue and bring people back down to Earth. Learn patience and your life will be better. Period.
4. DROP THE RENT-A-FRIEND MENTALITY
It’s ok to have standards, even when selecting friends or partners. It absolutely is a transaction so make sure you get what you need from it. I’m not saying be one of those people that pretend to be nice or straight up uses people to get what they want. That makes you a dick. I’m talking about surrounding yourself with those that energize you and make you feel good about yourself. You can be surrounded by all the people in the world, but what’s the point if you don’t click with them?
As Robin Williams said…
“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that makes you feel all alone.”
5. GET INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY
Local or adopted. It doesn’t matter. There is so much going on, and so many things to get involved in wherever you are. Good experiences create good connections. Seek them out. Your opportunities are endless. If you want to meet dancers, take dance classes! If you want to meet surfers, go on a surf trip! Want to volunteer? Volunteer. Video games, pole dancing, salsa dancing, yoga, book clubs, diving, hiking — what is it you like to do? Go do it.
6. EMBRACE YOUR INDIVIDUALITY
Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not to appease others. That’s shit. There’s something like 50 gender classifications today. Drop the act. There is literally no need for it anymore, and you’ll have a far better life as a result.
7. MAKE A GAME OF IT
A suggestion: Get a friend on board whose also looking to connect with people. Alternate turns in choosing some sort of social event which you both have to attend each week that will get you out of your comfort zone, and in amongst other like-minded people. And have some fun with it!
Wrapping it up:
It’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to be anxious, shy or depressed. If you do suffer from this, and you need help, do yourself a favor and get some.
Remember, you’re not alone if you’re feeling lonely. You just think you are. As a species we need connection. There’s no shame in it. Give this the time and attention it deserves as it can be the difference between a shitty life and an incredible one.
Remember to connect and follow up with those whose company you enjoyed. It’s not about getting laid. I mean, it can be, but more importantly, it’s about connection. It’s about having fun and enjoying your life.
Not everything listed above will be fun, but the more you strive to have fun, the more you’ll attract the right people into your world. When you’re relaxed and having fun, you’ll be naturally charismatic. As a result, people will gravitate towards you because they too want to be having fun.
On a final note: Don’t ask people if they want to hear something funny. Just tell the joke. It’ll be funnier. Trust me. The other day a friend told a story of how he got chili on his dick. It stung so bad he ended up having to dip it in yogurt as his girlfriend looked on in horror. I was terrified my head and guts would going to explode I was laughing so hard. The next day I told friends to perk up and listen to him tell this story because it’s hilarious. A questionable audience, but nonetheless, they didn’t laugh nearly enough. I ruined it for him. Don’t ruin it for yourself. Expectations. Manage them.
BEFORE YOU GO:
If you struggle with anxiety and are looking for greater peace of mind, subscribe below for free access to the anti-anxiety micro-course covering 5 fundamentals for a better life. I’ll also send you a copy of my book!
Thanks for reading! :)
This article was originally published on Dojo Bali.