Currently, 40% of people who live in US share that they feel lonely. Dr. Lissa Rankin calls loneliness our №1 public health issue. The facts tell us that air pollution increases our risk for mortality by 6%, obesity by 23%, alcohol abuse by 37%. And loneliness by 45%. Loneliness is also growing in other parts of the world.
If you are struggling with loneliness, I invite you to take a moment to feel compassion for yourself. Recognize that you are not alone in this; other people in the world are also affected by this issue. I’ve been there myself. I felt lonely and disconnected too.
I’d like to offer some basic guidelines for meeting people and making new friends:
Values define what is important to us. We organize our lives around them. Our sense of identity is derived from what we hold near and dear. If you don’t know your values, I invite you to take some time to reflect on this.
For example, I value depth, spirituality, authenticity, and growth. One historical figure I admire is Mahatma Gandhi. I admire him for believing in what he knew was possible and his unwavering stand for justice.
Other values include kindness, generosity, balance, spontaneity, adventure, humility, peace, loyalty, sensitivity, patience, love, etc.
I invite you to make a list of ten values. Then, choose top 4 that are non-negotiable for you. Once you know what is important to you, you can find other people who share the same values.
What do you need in a friendship? Do you simply want to hang out, watch movies and have fun together? Do you want to have friends who are into self-development and awakening? Do you enjoy conversations about money, business or sports?
Do you want to be in a kind of a friendship where you just spontaneously meet whenever each one of you has time or do you want to connect on regular basis, making time for each other?
Whatever you are asking for, can you offer that in return?
I, personally, need to be with people who are exploring, growing and stretching themselves in some way. I feel inspired by people who follow their callings in life. I want to be with people who are standing on the edge of their growth and are moving towards their highest potentials. And I am happy to say that I have friends like this in my life!
When you meet new people who you might become friends with, pace the connection. There is no pressure to be best friends forever after your first encounter. There is no need to share your deepest and most vulnerable parts the first time you meet someone, unless you feel like it’s the right thing for you to do. You can give yourself and the other person, time and space to get to know each other, to discover if you enjoy each other’s company.
Also, be clear about your boundaries. You can say:
“I’d like to meet up for coffee and I have about an hour.”
“I’d love to go to this concert with you and I need to be home by 10 pm.”
Allow the intimacy to grow organically. You might feel a sense of mutual affinity already present. Or you might discover within a few conversations, that the connection isn’t really alive or inspiring.
As you are getting to know the other person, notice if they are actually living and embodying their professed values. Do you feel a sense of congruence between what they say and what they do, or there is a big gap? Give yourself time to see if the values are in coherence with the way a person lives his/her life.
Please remember, we are all doing the best we can. Using discernment isn’t the same as judging people as “imperfect”. It’s a matter of choosing who you want to spend your time with.
Discernment is a matter of discovering who truly cares for you, who truly values you and who can be there for you when you need them to.
Go to events, parties, gatherings, classes, concerts that you feel drawn to attend. Tune in to yourself to clarify if the impulse to go is coming from a place of desperation, like I’d rather go somewhere, than sit at home. Or is it coming from your heart, inspiration, a deeper impulse that is inviting you to play in the world with others.
“What you seek is seeking you.” Rumi
With the 4 ingredients I listed above you are setting a foundation that can nourish the roots of deeper intimacy and love.
Please remember, I am not here to give you rules to follow. These are guidelines. In the end, I invite you to trust you inner guidance, your inner wisdom, and your inner knowing. They will not lead you astray.
It’s possible for YOU to have fulfilling friendships!
To learn more about possible “blocks” that prevent you from experiencing deeper connection and belonging with yourself and people, I invite you to purchase my e-booklet: How To Cultivate Connection and Belonging.