trauma of rejection. Lighten up, stop expecting everyone to love you,
stop being self-critical, take the initiative and bring up interesting
topics, don't "play it safe" and hide in the crowd, focus on other people
and their interests, help others have a good time, and be satisfied with
your efforts. Practice, practice, practice social skills.
Level III (skills): See chapter 13 for several important skills:
social and dating skills training for meeting people, assertiveness
training for improving relationships, empathy and self-disclosure
training for deepening relationships, decision-making and problem-
solving training (self-help) for planning the future with others and
alone. My experience has been that poor conversationalists benefit
most from learning empathy responding. It provides a different-but-
easy, highly effective, caring, genuine way of responding one to one. If
you frequently don't know that to say, be sure to learn to empathize.
According to Richard Bootzin at Northwestern University, the
people who handle being alone best have been encouraged by their
parents to be independent, active, and self-sufficient. If being alone is
difficult for you, desensitization should help and you will need practice
enjoying being alone. Find some interesting and worthwhile activity,
like get a part-time job interacting with people, read parts of this
book, etc. It has been reported that once people learn to enjoy
themselves alone, they can reach out to others more easily; they
certainly look less needy.
Marital enrichment and therapy groups can help troubled
relationships. Readings, social skills training groups, and self-help
groups for the lonely, the separated, and the bereaved are important.
Training groups have special advantages: modeling, practice (role
playing), immediate feedback, and support or advice from the group
for your efforts in real life.
Level IV (cognitive): Young (1979) developed a Cognitive
Therapy approach to loneliness. There are many common irrational,
problem-causing ideas or assumptions (and "automatic thoughts")
associated with each stage from aloneness to togetherness: Do you
think any of these thoughts?
Stage 1: Being alone
Being alone is terrible. There's something wrong with me. It's
better to be at home alone than go out alone.
I'm ugly and boring. People only like beautiful people.
Stage 2: With casual friends
I'll make a fool of myself. People will laugh at me.
No one likes me. No one cares about someone like me.
Better not trust anyone. People will take advantage of you.