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struggle with getting close to others

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 169 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. Good to be with you on today's episode regarding introversion, loneliness, and getting close to others.

I’m going to try something crazy going forward. Until now, I’ve waited until after my answer and the second jingle to remind you all how to submit your questions. That’s also when I regularly provide a final thought as well as multi-million dollar giveaways, so for those who have missed out on that by stopping early I’m sorry.

But I am going to start reminding you all at the top of the show here that if you’d like to submit a question to the show, you can do so by emailing it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com

Email us, you’ll get a response, a written transcript if you’d like, and of course, you’ll have your very own episode dedicated to you with your identity kept anonymous. So that’s that.

Today, we’ve got a good one about loneliness – an epidemic in and of itself that is picking up steam and that I’ve talked about a bit in some interviews and other content outside of OLA. I’m excited to look at it here and help this viewer out.

So without further ado, let’s see if we can help her. Here’s her question…

QUESTION: “As an introvert, I enjoy my time alone. Yet in terms of finding the right people – for example best friends or a soulmate – I still struggle with that. In my childhood I’d been bullied & experienced body shaming which led me to be more introverted. I also had some experiences of being scammed online and lost some people that I thought would be my important people in my life.

I’ve tried to cope with my anxiety, loneliness, & procrastination in hopes of getting closer with people. But still I can’t find them which sometimes adds to my negative thoughts and depression.”

Listen to Greg narrate this post on getting close to others in Episode 169 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.

The Same Feelings in Spirit

Ok, there we have it and thank you so much to the asker for sending this question in. I know this one took a lot of guts to send in and let me remind you that in spite of your feelings of loneliness, you do have support and care coming from this side of the microphone as well as thousands of listeners out there who I’m sure will offer the same feelings in spirit.

I’ve got a few ideas for you today. Not sure how well they connect to one another, but hey, let me just start talking and see what happens.

The first thing that jumps out to me is how you talk about these experiences that have led you to be more introverted. This is a cool realization you’ve made, and I would say that all traumas we face sort of push us into different types of introversion after the fact.

But what I’m wondering about is just how much extroversion is there that you’re not allowing to breathe as a result of these experiences. Just how much extroversion have they pushed you out of versus how much was there to begin with?

Your Introverted Lifestyle

Ask yourself if your commitment to an introverted lifestyle is possibly more reactive and defensive than what you’re naturally inclined to do.

How many urges do you have to get out and do things now versus how many you had before some of these experiences took place?

As you retrace each experience that you feel has led you to introversion, how much did each one change your habits and desires in this way? How do you feel when you do get out and have fun? Do you desire it more, or is it exhausting, overwhelming, and something you’d rather not do too often?

Listen to Andre's thoughts on introversion in Episode 766 of the podcast Optimal Relationships Daily.

If you find that there’s a big part of you that has the desire to go out and live a more extroverted lifestyle if you will, but you actively try to suppress those feelings, then you’re not letting a big part of you breathe, which would be preventing you from meeting like-minded people, or meeting many people at all.

This may or may not be the case with you, but something to think about either way.

Your Definition of Loneliness

The second thing I want to pay attention to is your definition of loneliness. With all due respect to the feelings of loneliness that you and anyone else is experiencing, it’s important to recognize that they are just that – feelings.

Listen to Rosalyn's thoughts on tackling loneliness in Episode 811 of the podcast Optimal Relationships Daily.

There’s a difference between feeling lonely and being lonely. Feelings of loneliness, like any feelings, are fleeting and can be changed.

When we think of ourselves as lonely people, it’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that it’s permanent; some kind of lifelong condemnation.

There’s a lot to be said about how one perceives loneliness, and because it’s often associated with having a strong and bustling social life, it’s easy to forget that people with tons of friends and spouses can still be very lonely.

Likewise, some people that just have two or three trusted friends and family members feel they don’t need anyone else.

So it’s my opinion that we all tend to have a hard time gauging our own loneliness and the loneliness of others. We sometimes forget how much we’re cared for by a few people simply because we have a hard time integrating new people.

Getting Close to Others: People and Paths

I actually made a video once on loneliness back before the OLD days, and I have in front of me an excerpt that I pulled from it. I just want to read it for you quickly before moving on.

It goes, “for as often as those who are not feeling lonely fail to see when someone is feeling lonely, those who are feeling lonely fail to see when someone who isn’t feeling lonely would want to accept them, support them, and form a bond with them if only they knew.

But again, these missed signals only perpetuate the trick that people feeling lonely play against themselves, because the objective truth is that the world is full of people and full of paths leading to people that would or already do want to be in their lives in a meaningful way.

The same way someone who is married with children may perceive those relationships in such a way that they’re somehow unfulfilling, someone might perceive a stranger as someone that wouldn’t want to open up to them and form a bond with them.

The more one falls victim to this trick, the less trusting and comfortable one feels when they do have social interactions, thus perpetuating one’s feeling of loneliness.”

Something to think about.

The Irony of Loneliness

Whether or not it changes your perception of your own loneliness I hope it at least tells you that many others out there are feeling the same way, and that there is a world of people who may be a lot more excited about interacting with you than you assume they are.

It’s an odd thing; people feeling lonely are one of the biggest groups in the world – millions, if not billions of people, with the same feelings and same goal, yet by definition consider themselves to be isolated and detached.

Listen to Rosalyn's thoughts on tackling loneliness in Episode 811 of the podcast Optimal Relationships Daily.

My hope is that this stuff helps you to assess loneliness differently. If you can, it’ll be a good boost to help you go bring more openness to interactions with familiar and unfamiliar faces.

Maybe they aren’t out to get you the same way that people who contributed to your past traumas were. Maybe they’re lonely themselves. Maybe they think quite highly of you, but don’t express it in the way that you’d recognize it so easily.

It’s my belief that seeing your interactions through this lens will help you to end loneliness not just for yourself, but for many, many others.

Getting Close to Others: Conclusion

And even if none of this is true and you’re yet to meet the right people for you, trust that you’re on the path towards doing so. You’re being vulnerable, asking the right questions and practicing self-sufficiency.

Hopefully things will start to open back up soon and you can go about meeting people in the right places based on your hobbies and interest.

But in the meantime, the self-work you’re doing and the familiarity you’re getting with being alone is building a strong foundation for you.

Regardless of who you meet, you’ll always need to be ready to rely on yourself and come back to your center. It’s great to garner strength from a great life on the outside, but inner strength is highly important as well, so see this time alone now as a chance to keep trying things to fortify the relationship you have with yourself.

Thanks so much for sticking with this one until the end, my friends. Asker, I hope it helped. I realize some of the viewpoints may sound a little atypical. Hopefully that’s the extent of it, and that none if it came off as insulting. But loneliness is one of those concepts that’s just very unsettling and tied to very specific imagery, imagery that’s not always accurate. So please question that imagery and question your interactions as I encourage everyone to do. Wrapping up now, everyone. Thanks once more for listening and to the asker for submitting this question. I’ll see you all again soon for 170, don’t forget to tune in. Bye guys.

Listen to Greg narrate this post on getting close to others in Episode 169 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.

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Greg Audino

Greg Audino is a Rhode Island-born certified life coach, actor, and graduate of Goucher College. He is the host of the mental health podcast Optimal Living Advice and narrates dating, marriage, and parenting content over at Optimal Relationships Daily.
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