Sharon, a high school student, relates: ‘I’ve been going to school in this district for eight years, but in all that time I’ve never managed to make one single friend!…. Nobody knows what I feel and nobody cares. Sometimes I think I just can’t stand it anymore!”
Like Sharon, many teenagers experience what is often called chronic loneliness. Perhaps you also feel this aching emptiness. If so, do not despair. True chronic loneliness is not a trivial problem. It is more serious than temporary loneliness. So how can chronic loneliness be beaten?
Whether being lonely is an occasional thing or a sad way of life for you, the first step in finding a cure is understanding it’s cause. Sixteen – year – old Sharon pinpoints the most common cause of chronic loneliness in saying: ” I think the reason why I feel very lonely is because – well you can’t have friends if you feel badly about yourself. And I guess I don’t like myself very much.”
Sharon’s loneliness comes from within. Her low self-esteem esteem forms a barrier that keeps her from opening up and making friends. Do you share her sentiments? Says one researcher: Thoughts such as I’m unattractive,’ I’m uninteresting,’ I’m worthless,’ are common expressions among the chronically lonely.”
Low self-esteem, in turn may result in fear of being rejected. Recalls Steven: “I wanted to talk about my lonely feelings, but I just did not know the words to express it. I was afraid that people would laugh at me or not take me seriously. It was just hard to open up.” Thus, some teens close up, and suffer in silence. How can this be reversed?
BUILD YOUR SELF RESPECT
The key to overcoming loneliness lies in building self – respect. A measure of self – respect is necessary. However, thinking too much of oneself isn’t good, but thinking too little of oneself.
So to some extent, you have some attractive qualities within you. Are you humble, modest, teacheable, kind, generous, compassionate? Do not blind yourself to those assets. Develop your skills and assets. True, there maybe things about you that you do not like, your looks for example. But why put yourself down for something that you can’t change? Work, instead, on unfavorable qualities that you can change, such as impatience, a bad temper, or selfishness. Take the time to cultivate on your personality, thus your self-respect will grow!
WIDEN OUT TO OTHERS
The best advice for a lonely person, ‘ says a recent publication from the U.S National Institute of Mental Health, is ‘get involved with other people.’ Thus widen out and show fellow feeling. It works. One study, published in the journal Adolescence, reveals that ‘teens who show concern in the welfare of others are not as lonely as teens who do not.’ Why? Caring for others not only gets your mind off your loneliness but motivates others to take an interest in you. People will often respond by giving you kindness in return.
BREAKING THE ICE
Nineteen – year – old Betty decided that she would do more than sit back and wait for people to say hi. ‘ I have to be friendly too,’ she says. Otherwise people will think I’m stuck-up.’
The next step, striking up a conversation, is harder. You can start up a conversation, by simply asking questions like, ” Where are you from?, Do you know so and so?” etc. Its not good to start talking about something intimate because the other person gets embarrassed or scared and will avoid you. Yes it is not wise to plunge into a deep conversation right away. Be real. Learn to accept that some people will not respond to your smile and friendly hello. In that case, they have a problem – not you. Your acts of kindness and generous spirit will likewise help you to build precious friendships.
GETTING OVER THE ROUGH SPOTS
Still, most teens suffer from loneliness at times. Remember that it may be temporary and caused by circumstances beyond your control. The passing of time will often help you to get over the rough spots. Loneliness will fade.
Chronic loneliness, however, comes from within and can be caused by low self-esteem. In that case, take action! Yes, build your self-respect by amplifying the appealing qualities that you have within you. Do things for other people, and they will usually respond to you.