Reach out, by Karen Little


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People associate feeling happy by being surrounded with love and appreciation from others. Simply not feeling alone, however, is a much more important predictor of happiness. The more isolated people believe they are, even when surrounded by others, the more unhappy they tend to be.


Isolation is experienced when a person believes that he or she isn't being heard or understood, even when others are listening. Many find themselves withdrawing from society, rather than growing into it, because they believe no one cares, thus making loneliness self-fulfilling.


The Internet provides companionship through interactive games and social groups. Passively viewing streaming shows and events for hours on end, however, heightens feelings of loneliness and can accelerate withdrawal in response.


Numerous events can trigger actual isolation, such as losing one's job, family, and friends. More harmful is when fear of rejection and isolation leads to anxiety and withdrawal, even though the rejection is imagined.


Unless one is subjected to isolation as a punishment, such as being held in prison or shunned by an organization, often isolation is the result of a self-fulfilling attitude. To emerge from this problem, the first thing that must be done is to reach out to others, rather than shy away.


Here are a few ideas on how to emerge socially, even for the shyest person:

  • Care for a pet or pets

  • Join interactive activities on the Internet

  • Get involved with local groups that address social issues

  • Provide help for others who can't care for themselves

  • Enroll in in-person classes, including participating in crafts, auditing a course, or taking courses for credit

  • Be present at community celebrations and special events

  • Attend sporting events of all types

  • Volunteer to help out at community events

  • Involve yourself with a religious group, even if you do not share core beliefs

Becoming included takes time, often numerous months in the making. It only starts, however, when an effort is made to reach out and join with others, thereby becoming included, rather than waiting for an invitation.


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Written by Karen Little of Sketch-Views




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