Loneliness Treatment B: Identify Your Self-Defeating Behaviors
Loneliness makes us approach people with caution and suspicion, and our hesitancy usually comes across loud and clear to others, prompting them to retreat from our bad vibe. We then feel crushed and conclude we were right to be suspicious and cautious in the first place. The fact that our own actions created a self-fulfilling prophecy often eludes us entirely. As is often true in life, when we act out of fear we risk inviting the very thing we hope to avoid. (...) The truth is that while we're often blind to our self-defeating behaviors in the moment, we're much better at identifying them in hindsight. (...) More important, we tend to repeat the same self-defeating behaviors in a variety of situations, which should make identifying them easier once we're alerted to their existence. (...) Other common forms of self-defeating behaviors are finding poor excuses to turn down invitations to social events, skipping spontaneous get-togethers because you're unprepared either emotionally or otherwise, neglecting to convey birthday wishes or other celebratory messages to friends and colleagues, taking friendly ribbings too personally, using defensive body language (e.g., folding your arms over your chest, standing with your hands in your pockets, exaggerated rummaging through your purse, or faking intense interest in nonexistent text messages), responding with curt or monosyllabic sentences or overtalking and hogging the conversation, neglecting to ask others about their lives and opinions, and confessing your faults and insecurities to people you've just met. (...) Try to identify at least three behaviors (including omissions, such as not conveying interest), even if they seem entirely justified and even if they seem relatively minor, that might be pushing other people away. (...) Once you've identified what you might be doing incorrectly, be extremely mindful of avoiding such behaviors in the future. Keep your list handy and read it before you attend social engagements.