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Why People Confuse Loneliness With Depression, And What To Do Instead

Why People Confuse Loneliness With Depression, And What To Do Instead

We all feel lonely sometimes. But, extended loneliness is different. It’s much harder to break out of, but once you overcome it, you can start meeting new people and making friends.

Unfortunately, this extended loneliness can be caused by the confusion of loneliness with depression.

It’s important to understand what loneliness is, how it works, and most importantly, how can you get out of it.

Loneliness has roots in our biology…

The Feeling of Loneliness Is Good For You

Loneliness is a Signal. It’s as if your biology is telling you “Hey, Pay Attention! You’re in danger here; you need to get back with people!”

Why is that?… It’s simply because we have been wired that way. Thousands of years ago, if you were lonely, it was a real threat… you might die.

At the time, loneliness meant you were alone, hunting alone, going through the forest by yourself, and having no one to watch over you when you’re sleep.

Chances are good that you were not going to make it.

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This sheds some new light on your loneliness. It actually might have some value!

It’s like thirst or hunger… it exists to REMIND you of what you need to do, in order to stay alive.

But here is the trick…

Loneliness often makes you feel that you are in danger, and you shouldn’t go exploring. And that means, in our time, that socializing and making friends feels dangerous.

This is what you need to be careful about. This is why people often confuse loneliness with depression.

Loneliness causes them to fear being criticized by people, which leads to more hiding and avoiding social situations…, which leads to more loneliness! (This is what I call The Loneliness Trap)

Bummer!

Let’s look at what you should do instead…

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What You Need to do if You’re Feeling Lonely

Loneliness is the feeling of not being connected with people. That sad feeling prevents you from socializing and talking to new people.

In order to relieve that, consider this…

Charity.

The fastest way to stop loneliness is to go do some charity work. Work in a soup kitchen, at a homeless shelter or some sort of community service where you visit children or senior citizens in hospitals.

Even doing this just ONCE, can help you switch to other side of loneliness…

This works because it alleviates the feeling of being threatened by people. You see that people are grateful and happy to receive your help. You cause them to smile and find some hope. Once you experience that people are good, decent and grateful, you may feel “okay” again around people.

Family and Old Friends

Go talk to family members and old friends that know you well. Ask them about what there are going through these days. Find out what troubles them and what’s making them happy. Try to make them feel positive and congratulate them on anything good they’ve been doing.

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THEN… talk a little about your situation. Tell them about what you’re excited about and what troubles you. Explain to them a little about it to make sure that they understand you logically AND they feel what you’re feeling. This will ensure that you feel connected to them, and will cause loneliness to go away.

Start Making New Friends, and Build Your Social Circle

Building a nice circle of friends around you is the surest way to get out of the loneliness trap, once and for all.

If done right, a circle of friends allows you to go out often, share your life’s problems and glories, have fun, decrease stress, and celebrate your life. (Trips, birthday parties, nice dinners, and awesome parties)

Just imagine how your life would be if you had a nice circle of friends that understood and believed in YOU, and encouraged you along the way…

But, the beauty of it is that you don’t have to always “work” at it. You don’t have to call everyone and do all the work for people to gather up and meet. If you do it well, a circle of friends just “takes care” of your social life, with minimum effort on your part.

People start to call YOU, and make plans for fun.

Building a social circle is a two-step formula: 1. Make New Friends, 2. Introduce them to Old Friends.

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Yes, I’m over simplifying here…

However, if you do this enough times, you’ll no longer wish you had ONE interesting person to go out with; you’ll instead have a GROUP of friends that you like.

If you want more info on how to meet new people, and make friends with them, you can visit my website and subscribe to my free Social Skills Newsletter.

See you there,

– Paul

Featured photo credit:  businessman with gas mask watching TV via Shutterstock

More by this author

Paul Sanders

A communication expert who tries to help people improve their social skills and make friends anywhere.

How To Be More Social If You Are an Introvert How to Keep a Conversation Going and Never Run Out of Things to Say What to Do When You Have No Friends and Feel Lonely 7 Tips How to Make Friends During College 5 Reasons Why Your Social Life Isn’t Improving, And What To Do About It

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Last Updated on January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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