We can sometimes deliberately limit our social interactions when we are busy or overwhelmed. But these are the very reasons we may have to push ourselves to socialise, be with friends, relax and be at leisure. It might be that what you really don’t want to do is exactly what you need to do?
Think about it, we encourage our kids to spend time with friends because we know they need to switch off regularly.
Take a break from homework and chores, dealing with their parents!
It’s so nice when you hear them laughing, the chatter. If they can spend time outdoors it’s so good for them mentally and physically. We make sure they get these activities because they need them.
Yet we are reluctant to manage our own downtime, even avoiding it because we think it’s not as easy for adults.
To be honest it’s not easy for kids either.
WE CAN’T USE ADULT EXCUSES
How often has a young child been nervous to say hi to someone new, and we say, “Go on, you can do it, just say hello”. But it’s scary for them.
Or a teenager starting high school and they don’t know anyone. We tell them, “It will be fine, you will make new friends in no time”.
Yet we are so reluctant to call people and go out for a movie or a coffee. What’s up with that?
I want to encourage you that it isn’t easy for anyone to take a step towards others you don’t know yet.
But if you are feeling at all lonely or isolated, even a little, it might be exactly what you need.
THE BENEFITS OF FRIENDSHIP
Humans were made for community, that’s why we have a family, whether biological or chosen.
No man (or woman) is an island. Nobody is self-sufficient; everyone relies on others. This saying comes from a sermon by the seventeenth-century English author John Donne.
Yes, we can survive for a season. But most people go ‘a little funny’ when they are on their own for too long. Watch the movie Castaway to see what it’s like isolated long-term. He may have been better off with more resources like food and shelter, but the lack of human interaction would have still been there.
Being on your own too long can mean we are too much in our own heads. When we only hear our own thoughts and opinions, we get no pushback if we aren’t on the right track.
When we interact, we can get encouragement and help with difficult situations, problems become less daunting when you’re not alone. Healthy interaction and conversation will reduce stress. We learn how others do things, or how we could do things better, this will increase your confidence.
Being in community with others can benefit you physically, lowering your heart rate, blood pressure, and helps with mental health.
FRIENDSHIPS FOR INTROVERTS AND EXTROVERTS
An extrovert feeds off being with other people, it gives them energy, like a lizard in the sun. A day being with people will make them feel full and relaxed.
An introvert, however, is the reverse. It isn’t that they struggle to spend time with others, but that it can drain their energy over time and it tires them, they need time alone to recharge.
Both types are completely capable of interacting socially, but one uses there energy and the other gains energy.
Whether you are introverted or extroverted, we all need some form of community or friendship.
Introverts don’t need as much as an extrovert does but don’t be fooled if you happen to be an introvert, you still need to exercise your social skills and learn like the rest of us. I’m an introvert, I am fine on my own for days if need be, but I need others eventually. I enjoy bouncing my ideas off of other people. I have words that need to be spoken out loud so others can hear me and get to know me. It is good for me to laugh with others and share thoughts, see what is going on in their lives.
Extroverts need no encouragement to be social, they may struggle with time on their own! Their issues with friendship can be completely different but they are still there. For example, they may know many people, but not very well. They may talk to others all day long but have no real conversation or interaction about things that matter.
So whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, you still have to learn to have a true connectedness with other people on a regular basis.
Growing friendships where they know you and you get to know them.
MAKE FRIENDS A PRIORITY
So if we know that we need friendships and how we’ll benefit from them, then maybe we can motivate ourselves to step out.
Message a friend and invite them for coffee or meet at a cafe
Invite another family over for dinner at the weekend
Join a sports team or club and go to social events
Make a change that we would think normal for others to make and try them ourselves?