Social isolation and difficulty in making friends are two of the problems that, paradoxically, occur in a society where the Internet has the capacity to bring all kinds of people into contact.
Problems in making friends not only have consequences on people’s moods and self-esteem : it has also been seen that loneliness is related to a shorter life expectancy.
How to break the isolation?
Gaining a greater ability to win friends is a process that involves engaging on several fronts. Fortunately, it is possible to win on all of them by following the right strategies and showing a commitment to certain principles and ideas.
Next, we’ll look at what people who have trouble making friends can do to get out of their isolation.
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1. Working on self-esteem
This is a step that must be taken first but must accompany all those who follow it . The perception that we lack friends who are by our side is often associated with the belief that we are not good enough for someone to want to spend time with us, which in turn causes us to adopt behaviors that make it difficult to create bonds of friendship.
It is therefore necessary to analyse these beliefs in a calm and somewhat distant way, judging their foundations and seeing how they fit into reality. Normally, social isolation is produced by the anticipation of the failure of contact with other people, with the fear that this generates and with the lack of self-esteem that makes us be on the defensive and give up the possibility of making friends, which in turn confirms our pessimistic beliefs.
This step can be initiated alone or with the help of friends and family, but attending psychotherapy is also a good option for this cognitive restructuring.
2. Judge our needs for friendship
Secondly we must stop and think why or what we want to have more friends for . This will help us to know what the nature of our need is, which in turn will make it possible to be clear about the contexts in which we want to meet people and the kind of people we want to deal with.
3. Search for meeting spaces
Secondly, we must think about where we can make new friends. Here we must consider meeting places, but also virtual spaces, especially forums where we can find people with common interests. Beyond the social networks, which are usually designed more for individual contact with people already known, there are web pages with debate and discussion sections where people who are regulars of the place meet : they are a good option.
4. Search the exhibition
Losing the fear of exposing ourselves to the opinion of others is absolutely essential when it comes to making friends. To do this we must leave the comfort zone and fight the fear learned from previous frustrated experiences when it comes to making friends. Following self-instructions and “forcing” ourselves to comply with them by following a scale of difficulty is a good way of solving this, besides being a resource widely used in cases of social phobia.
5. Do not follow scripts in conversation
Once you have started a conversation with someone, it is necessary to give up the possibility of following a more or less structured script in which we have included elements that we want to say: they don’t work and make the dialogue not very fluid and unsatisfactory. It is advisable to look for spontaneity. For that it is good to follow relaxation protocols (if possible with the help of a therapist) and to let oneself be carried away by the dialogue without thinking obsessively about the image we are giving. If we are confident and sure of ourselves, the most absurd conversation can become something fun and stimulating .
6. Show commitment
To maintain the bonds of friendship is to bet on the commitment that unites two people who consider themselves friends . This means that we have to make some sacrifices and be clear that we should also be willing to give something to the other. It is a very basic point but one that is often forgotten, making relationships deteriorate and become circumstantial, somewhat instrumental.
If the phrase “I find it difficult to make friends” is often on our minds, we must be clear about two things: on the one hand, that if we are willing, we can be friends with many more people, and on the other, that this process will cost us a series of efforts and sacrifices that will make us leave our comfort zone .
Having this clear from the beginning is basic to not get discouraged in the early stages, something that can make this experience memorable as “proof” that friends are not made for us.