Counseling/Feeling Lonely And Desperate
Hi William, i'm 20 year old student from the UK, but i'm studying in Japan for a year as part of my uni degree. I basically feel really lonely and seriously valueless. I've been trying to be social since i've come to Japan and have made like sort of friends, but it's where I make lots of very small friends but never any close ones, so I have no real connection. I go to social events all the time, but I don't really like big groups and it actually costs a lot of money to go to these kind of events. Thing is, it's now becoming a habit where I don't want to be around people, it's actually less effort to be by myself and I don't have to try to socialize, but at the same time, i'm craving companionship from people. I feel really shit and valueless, like if I was hospitalized, people wouldn't even notice, I get angry even when people accidentally ignore me now and now even when i'm with people, sometimes I don't say anything because i'm like 'oh they don't wanna listen to me, why would they?'. It's got so bad to think i'm not worth anything. It's a bit weird, but when i'm just doing things alone it makes you feel really old and like you're a waste. I get angry at people who I feel are attacking my self esteem and security, but at the same time, I know i'm not doing it any good. I kind of need a sense of direction here, because i'm having more bad days than good and I am really desperate to go back to the UK as this is where I feel I have a better sense of belonging.
I think you're right about the isolation making things worse. And yet, I know that it's hard to get out of that pattern once it has become a strong habit reinforced by anxiety.
The reason you're craving companionship is that you are naturally a healthy person who wants to feel meaningful connections with other people. I want you to consider that there is nothing wrong with you. You are a good, healthy person who has fallen into some dysfunctional patterns that are not serving you well.
There are two levels to the issues you're facing, as I see it. One is your self esteem, and the other is your perception of others, and how they see you. When you spend a period of time isolated and disconnected from others, it will take some time and some exposure to reconnect. You might seem kind of "invisible" to others at first, when you've been alone a lot. That's not anything wrong with you, it's just what happens.
You are not a victim of circumstances around you, Peter. We are each responsible for the "reality" we create. Here are the steps by which you create your reality, consciously or unconsciously:
1) You have a theory or expectation about other people or future circumstances.
2) You automatically want to be right about your theory--it's our human nature to want to be right.
3) You therefore look for evidence to support your theory or expectations, so that you can be right.
For example, if you expect others to want (or not want) to be around you, you will look for evidence to support your expectations. And you'll find it. In other words, if you expect good things, you'll find good things, and vice versa. I know it's not quite as simple as that, but I assure you that if you're optimistic and positive in your theories and expectations about your future, you will steadily and consistently create more and more positive outcomes.
I strongly encourage you to use this imagery process for positive mental rehearsal
, to pre-pave your interactions and connections with other people. Each day, and any time you're about to go out among people, spend 15-20 minutes using these imagery processes to mentally rehearse the kind of experiences and outcomes you want to have. Picture yourself smiling, confident and relaxed as you greet people you know, and new acquaintances. Picture people responding to you in a friendly, upbeat manner.
Combine this with positive self talk, like: "People like me. I have a natural and easy way of getting to know people. I'm interested in others and they're interested in me. I enjoy asking about the interests of others, and really listening. I enjoy talking about myself, but only as long as the other person seems interested...then I turn the focus back on them. I am good socially. I have great social skills. I will be meeting some fabulous new people, off and on, for the rest of my life."
Also picture yourself returning to the UK, and imagine how good that is going to feel to you. The key is to enjoy where you are, and look forward to things getting even better.
You can do this, Peter. You've got what it takes.
My very best to you,