Life Notes: Friendship Takes Effort
by David Wheeler, Ph.D.

I recently had lunch in Monroe with a homeless man. I thought about what it would be like to have no place to call home … to have no solid connection with other people. The need to belong or to connect with others is a very powerful need that appears to be universal. As I thought about the man later, I realized there are many people who have a home but do not feel a sense of belonging. Some of those people may have lived in one place for years, yet feel very lonely and disconnected from others.

Loneliness is one of the most painful emotions one can experience. One can feel alone even in a large crowd of people. How can a person overcome loneliness? Of course this question cannot be answered very well in a 300 word article. However, here are some ideas to consider.

You MUST be willing to take a risk. It is sometimes frightening to approach others in order to establish a relationship. You may fear embarrassment, rejection, hurt or disappointment. It takes courage to be vulnerable, but without vulnerability a truly deep friendship cannot develop. Sometimes bitterness from past hurtful experiences can be involved. Forgiveness and letting go of the past may be necessary. It also may involve taking the focus off of yourself and concentrating on someone else. Most people love for someone to truly listen to them and give them undivided attention. It may take examining yourself for anything that might make others uncomfortable with you (e.g. bad manners, poor hygiene, gossiping).

Finally, it takes time. Strong friendships do not normally happen over night. It takes many hours of investing ourselves in others’ lives to build a strong friendship. But what could be more worth the investment?

The Life Notes articles are written by staff of Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home and are published in The Ruston Daily Leader.

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