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Published on April 12, 2018

Connect with Yourself in Order to Connect with Others

It's probably no surprise to you that science shows us that having friends increases wellness and quality of life. However, in an increasingly complex and busy life, it can be hard to make meaningful connections and lasting friendships. While people may be quick to offer advice, "Just get out there and talk to people!" "Join a group!" "Try speed dating!" anyone who struggles to make friends knows that it's not quite that simple. If this is you, I suggest the following starting points instead:

Start by knowing yourself

Oftentimes, our struggle to make friends starts with a lack of confidence and low self-esteem, two prerequisites to connecting with others. If you don’t feel like “getting out there” right away, don’t force yourself. Instead, focus on changing your internal view of yourself. Avoid negative self-talk and focus on your positive qualities. Regular moderate exercise can also help build your self-esteem. 

Find your passions

Just 'talking to people' doesn't work because it presumes people are the prize to be won. The real prize is the connection you feel when sharing a passion or interest. Taking a class or volunteering for a cause are excellent opportunities to explore your interests. Do so with enthusiasm and rewards will follow.

Invite people into your life

As you develop a strong self-image and interests in your world, you will gradually start to feel ready to connect and reach out. It's at this point when 'getting out there', 'joining a group' and dating feels more natural and doable.

Above all, remember this is a process that takes time. Give yourself the breathing room and flexibility to evolve as you do. If you find that your feelings need more immediate attention and you are having a difficult time finding your passion and connecting with yourself, Bryan Medical Center offers free and anonymous mental health screenings. Take one today. To learn more about Bryan’s mental health programs please visit our website and watch a short video.

dave miers

About Dr. Dave Miers

Dave Miers, PhD, is the counseling and program development manager for mental health services at Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln, Neb.

He helped establish the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition in 1999 and chaired/co-chaired this Coalition until 2017. He currently serves as the past co-chair. Dr. Miers is a member of the leadership group for the Lincoln/Lancaster County Suicide Prevention Coalition. Dr. Miers has published research and co-authored a chapter in the Routledge International Handbook of Clinical Suicide Research focusing on family survivors of a child suicide. Dr. Miers helped develop the Lincoln Lancaster Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team in Lincoln, Neb. He also helped develop other LOSS teams in Nebraska and is active with LOSS team development on a national level.

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