How Can I Deal With Loneliness?
It’s a beautiful day, and you have no plans. All your friends do, though. They’re out having a good time. Once again, you’ve been left out! Being among the uninvited is bad enough, but what it implies is even worse. ‘Maybe there’s something wrong with me,’ you say to yourself. ‘Why doesn’t anyone want my company?’
PERHAPS, more than once, you’ve been in the situation described on the opposite page. You may feel as if a wide chasm separates you from your peers. You stammer every time you try to start a conversation with them. When you do have an opportunity to socialize, shyness rears its head. Why is simple socializing so difficult?
Rather than remain stuck on your side of the chasm, you can build some bridges. Let’s see how.
● Chasm 1: A negative view of yourself. Some youths relentlessly put themselves down. They’re convinced that no one likes them and that they have nothing worthwhile to add to a conversation. Is that the way you feel about yourself? If so, a negative self-image will only widen the chasm that separates you from your peers.
The bridge: Focus on your assets. (2 Corinthians 11:6) Ask yourself, ‘What are my strengths?’ Think of some talents or positive qualities that you possess and list them below.
No doubt you have flaws, and it’s good to be aware of these. (1 Corinthians 10:12) But you also have much to offer. Recognizing your assets will give you the confidence you need to break free from a negative self-image.
● Chasm 2: Shyness. You’d love to start a conversation, but when the opportunity arises, you just can’t seem to open your mouth. “I’m in a permanent state of shyness,” laments 19-year-old Elizabeth. “I find it extremely hard to approach people at Christian meetings, and I really admire those who can do it!” If you’re like Elizabeth, you may feel as if this chasm is impossible to cross.
The bridge: Take a genuine interest in others. Don’t worry—you don’t have to turn into an extrovert. Start by showing interest in just one person. “Simply asking others how they are doing or asking them about their work helps you to get to know them better,” says a youth named Jorge.
Here’s a tip: Don’t limit yourself to people of your own age. Some of the warmest friendships recorded in the Bible were between people with considerable age differences, such as Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, and Timothy and Paul. (Ruth 1:16, 17; 1 Samuel 18:1; 1 Corinthians 4:17) Remember, too, that conversation is an interchange, not a solo performance. People appreciate good listeners. So if you tend to be shy, remember—you don’t have to carry the whole conversation!
Write down the names of two adults you would like to get to know better.
Why not approach one of the people you listed above and strike up a conversation? The more you reach out to “the whole association of brothers,” the less lonely you’ll feel.—1 Peter 2:17.
● Chasm 3: Disagreeable behavior. The know-it-all is always ready with an insult, a wisecrack, or a put-down. Then there’s the person who just loves to argue and force his opinions on everyone. Being “righteous overmuch,” he quickly condemns anyone who doesn’t live up to his personal standards. (Ecclesiastes 7:16) In all likelihood, you can’t stand being around people like that! Could it be, though, that a chasm has formed because you act that way? The Bible says: “The foolish one speaks many words,” and also “in the abundance of words there does not fail to be transgression.”—Ecclesiastes 10:14; Proverbs 10:19.
The bridge: Cultivate “fellow feeling.” (1 Peter 3:8) Even if you don’t agree with another’s view, patiently allow that one to talk. Dwell on points that you agree on. If you feel you must express disagreement on some issue, do so in a mild and tactful way.
Speak to others the way you would want to be spoken to. The Bible’s advice is to “keep doing all things free from murmurings and arguments.” (Philippians 2:14) Needless bickering or teasing, as well as insulting others or self-righteously condemning them, simply alienates people. They will like you a lot more if you “let your utterance be always with graciousness.”—Colossians 4:6.
At All Costs?
After this brief self-examination, perhaps you see some ways that you can build bridges to cross the chasm that may have developed between you and others. Of course, you have to be realistic. You can’t expect everyone to like you. Jesus said that some would even hate those who do what is right. (John 15:19) So it doesn’t pay to try to win friends at all costs.
Nevertheless, while not compromising your Bible-based standards, you can make reasonable efforts to be pleasant and agreeable. Samuel of Bible times was firmly resolved to do what would please God. The result? He kept growing “more likable both from Jehovah’s standpoint and from that of men.” (1 Samuel 2:26) With a little effort, so will you!
READ MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC IN VOLUME 1, CHAPTER 8
For more information, watch the DVD “Young People Ask—How Can I Make Real Friends?” It is available in more than 40 languages
Your best friend is suddenly acting like your worst enemy. What can you do about it?
“The one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.”—Proverbs 11:25.
Keep conversation moving forward. For example, if someone asks if you enjoyed the weekend, don’t just say yes. Explain why you enjoyed it. Then ask how the other person passed the time.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
The chasm I encounter most is ․․․․․
I will work to build a bridge in this area by ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● Why might some Christians be lonely?
● What can help you to look at yourself in a balanced way, instead of being consumed by negative thoughts?
● How would you comfort a younger brother or sister who is battling loneliness?
[Blurb on page 88]
“One Christian sister was reaching out to me, but for a time I didn’t respond to her. When I finally did, I felt so foolish! She’s turned out to be one of the best friends I’ve ever had, even though she’s 25 years older than I am!”—Marie
[Picture on page 87]
You can bridge the chasm that separates you from your peers