As humans, we have a need to connect with other people that is ingrained in us. We were created for intimate bonds from birth as we were born into families and live in communities. Scientific research has also proven that to experience happiness we need supportive intimate bonds with other people. Yet, people still feel isolated and alone. Here are some tips to helping overcome that isolation.
1. Start dreaming of your ideal friend. What type of friend do you want? How do you want them to respond to you? What types of activities do you want to engage in? Are these things you are currently doing for others? One of the key things about making friends is being the friend you want them to be. People are draw to people who are like them. So, if you are interested in having a friend that remembers your birthday, start remembering other people’s birthdays. People generally respond to us as we respond to them.
2. Overcome Fear. Most of what prevents us from reaching out to our next friend is fear. What will they think of me? Can I carry on a good conversation? What if I’m too stupid, shy, ordinary, strange (fill in your own negative thought) to make a friend? This initial apprehension will sometimes stop an interaction before it begins. It is in your head. Most people have similar fears and they are wrapped up in their own thoughts to notice if you mess up in a conversation. Instead of letting the fear roam in your head, focus on them, do they meet your criteria of an ideal friend? If you determine that they are friend material, start asking them simple question about them and you’ll find yourself responding naturally in the conversation.
3. Take Action. Sitting alone in your house feeling sorry for yourself that you do not have any friends and talking negatively about yourself will not improve your social life. Its time to act. Start with reaching out to current acquaintances. Those people who you’ve lost contact with or just someone you met and would like to have a better relationship with. Text them, or call them with a simple, how’s life type of question. If you want to meet new people, then get out of the house. There are plenty of activities to meet people who you’d like to know. Attend a meetup, a workshop or course, volunteer, get involved in your religious community. Chose something that interests you, then you will meet like minded people.
4. Talk first. Here is the tricky part. You’ve found an activity and you are surrounded by people, what happens next? I’ve attended a lot of different functions especially over the past few years. What I have noticed is that no one is overly comfortable in new surroundings and they are contemplating the same thing, who will talk to me? Instead of waiting, start the conversation with hi, how was your day? Move onto easy icebreakers like what is their occupation, the weather, what exciting has happened to them lately. Then once the ice is broken its easier to connect.
5. Be yourself. You are looking for a friend you want to hang out with. If you are pretending to be someone different then it will not work. Think about if you are an introvert and you meet the person being a vocal and outgoing. You then have two choices, you have to keep doing that to continue the friendship or you revert back to your introverted self and your friends feel cheated because that is not who they befriended. People are attracted to people like them so be you and you’ll find true friendships.
You are worthy of having friends. These are some tips to start you on your journey. If you find you are continuing to struggle, then you might need some personal attention to help you on your path. I am available to help you succeed at friendship, call for your appointment today.
Trish Pauls, MA RP