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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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