Highly sensitive people are not more prone to loneliness than anyone else, though we may experience it in a more profound way. Everyone has some degree of loneliness, and it can manifest in many different ways.
Although highly sensitive people often have social anxiety and may socialize less than average, there are many people who can feel lonely in the middle of a crowd. In other words, a sense of isolation is not always just the result of limited social contact. Many other factors, such as emotional withdrawal, lack of trust, or just not being able to make adequate connections, can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. Thus, not only is it important for us to reach out to others, but also to do it in a way that feels comfortable. When we feel “safe”, we are able to make much more meaningful connections.
The desire to connect with others and to have friendships is a basic human need. The conflict arises when we don’t know what specific action to take to fulfill this need.
Some questions to think about:
- Do you feel that you’re a “misfit” in society because you’re different?
While many of us have been conditioned to adapt our attitudes and behaviors to the mainstream, this kind of thinking doesn’t serve us. Being different is not a bad thing. Rather than trying to be something that you’re not, why not seek out people who share your interests and value your differences?It’s also important that we extend the same courtesy to others. It’s easy to get frustrated when others don’t share our world view. Perhaps these expectations arise out of our highly sensitive, perfectionist tendencies. For example, we may get frustrated when others aren’t as conscientious or compassionate as we are. The fact is that nobody is “perfect”, and we all come from a unique perspective. The sooner that we realize this, the better all of us will get along with each other.
- Do you feel that you don’t have enough friends?
It’s quality, not quantity, that we should consider when choosing who we befriend. Keeping up with friends requires time and effort. Why not focus your energy mainly on the friendships that you find the most rewarding, rather than trying to accumulate as many friends as possible?
- Are you afraid of being rejected?
A fear of rejection occurs when your self-esteem is too closely tied to what others think of you. If someone rejects you, then your whole self-image is threatened. The way out of this is to strengthen your inner core and define yourself on your own terms. Once you understand and feel good about yourself, rejection becomes less of an issue.
- Are you uncomfortable in social situations?
Socializing with others is a skill that many of us haven’t learned. It’s not something taught in school, and it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. I plan on having programs that will address this issue.
These are questions that many highly sensitive people struggle with, and I want to emphasize that you’re not alone.
Rather than trying to change ourselves to meet the expectations of others, we simply need to honor who we are. Our “true” friends and allies will do the same. When you connect with other like-minded and like-feeling people, you will gain the support you need to deal with any life situation.
Are you lonely? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.