“What do you do that causes her to treat you that way?” was a question my counseling professor, Fr. Dr. Robert McEniry (Creighton University), taught his students to ask in a marriage counseling situation. The question presupposes that the responsibility for what happens between married partners is on each of them, not just one of them.
A lonely person should ask a similar question: What do I do that causes people to treat me the way they do? All emotional healing begins with self-inventory and an acceptance of personal responsibility for who you are, how you act, and what happens to you.
First, look within. Listen to what you tell yourself about yourself. If you constantly agonize over your worthlessness and your inability to make friends, you are your own worst enemy. You defeat yourself before you begin. Your very thoughts deter personal growth and the development of social skills.
Your next step out of loneliness is to develop the habit of positive self talk. It will not be easy because it has taken you years of practice to be perpetually down on yourself. Listen carefully for words such as “I can’t” or “It’s too difficult,” or “I tried that once and it didn’t work.” Your actions are a result of your thoughts so if you keep telling yourself you cannot do this or will not go there, you can’t and you won’t. Change your conversation about yourself and you will discover a happier, friendlier self than you have ever known.
Now take it a step farther. Examine every aspect of your life. Take an objective look at how you dress, move, talk, groom yourself, etc. Do you look lonely? Do you walk lonely? Do you talk lonely? If you do, guess what? You are going to be lonely because you broadcast to everyone nearby, “Stay away from me! I don’t want or need your friendship.” People who walk around with a “poor me” attitude never attract friends. People want to be around others who smile, laugh and bring joy to every conversation.
Now the really BIG step: Change something. Fix something. Transform yourself from being boring to charming; from uninformed to well informed; from nobody to somebody; and most important, stop being a victim. Walk like you are important, offer your opinion and speak it with confidence. Take full responsibility for your own life and situation. Stop being the victim and begin to think of and present yourself as a victor. Try it for a week and see what happens. Try it for 90 days and you will change your life forever.
Will it be easy? Of course not, and your biggest hurdle will not be the other people in your office, the friends who have abandoned you, or the grumpy neighbor next door. The biggest barrier to solving your loneliness problem will be YOU! “I know I need to change” repeated as a lament will leave you lonely and discouraged. It is not just enough to know, you must act and take the first steps required to move from where you are, to where you need to be. That is the challenge I give to you today.
I know change is scary, even positive change. But I also know this: You can change your life for the better when you no longer blame others and as you take responsibility for who you are and how you think and act.
Please send me your comments on this article and let us talk about solutions for loneliness!
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