DBT Skills for Coping With Loneliness

I recently wrote a piece on how I'm coping with loneliness at my personal blog. Loneliness is a difficult state to be in, but the good news is that no matter how difficult it may feel to reach out and connect with others, there is a multitude of ways we can do so and still feel safe.

If you want to remain relatively anonymous, you can join Twitter and connect with others who share similar interest, such as #DBT.

If you want to be around others, you could go out to eat or to have a coffee. I did both of those things today.

I treated myself to a nice lunch at a cafe. The weather was quite cozy with pouring rain. I thought that I might feel self conscious sitting alone, but I just mindfully focused on my meal, and the experience was quite soothing.

I didn't rush. I ate slowly, listened to the workers joking around, and couldn't help but overhear interesting conversation at the table next to mine. Even though I wasn't I interacting (except when I ordered my meal) it felt good to be around others.

Later in the day, I had a similar experience at Starbucks. I ordered a decaf latte and sat and sipped it slowly. I overheard interesting interactions and enjoyed the jazzy Christmas music that played while the workers talked about their holiday schedules.

I also read the newspaper, which seems like a lost art these days. It was a great distraction and actually quite soothing.

If you've been feeling lonely and don't know where to start, remember that your efforts do not have to be all or nothing. Before giving this a try, I experienced the dialectical thought that I either had to be a social butterfly -- accepting all social invitations and handling them perfectly -- or I wasn't worthy of others' company and should just be alone.  Neither extreme is true. There are shades of grey in the middle. You can start with, "I want to make an effort to connect with others more," and then go from there.

The skills I'll be checking off on my DBT Diary Card tonight are:

  • Wise Mind: I was able to notice a dialectical thought and come up with a more reasonable shade of grey.
  • One-mindfully in-the-moment: When I ate, I just ate. When I listened to conversations, I just listened. When I read the newspaper, I just read the newspaper. This skill is about just one thing at a time in the moment.
  • Build Mastery: I built on my skills by practicing them in a more social setting.
  • Build Positive Experiences: Each time we push ourselves out of our comfort zones and toward a goal, we become more comfortable and at ease with the new situation. Also, we build positive experiences by doing things we enjoy or that we might enjoy.
  • Opposite To Emotion Action: I got out of the house and into social-type settings.
  • Distract: Activities (going out to eat and for coffee, reading the newspaper, went for a walk)

I hope this was helpful to you in some way.

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

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