Saul was upset. “My family doesn’t reach out, my neighbors don’t know I exist, no one at work ever asks me out for happy hour, and my guy friends don’t call unless it’s time for the annual fishing trip.”
“I just don’t understand why nobody cares about me.”
Healthy social lives can be challenging to create, maintain, and grow. Cultural messages, especially over social media, imply that everyone has lots of friends and loving, healthy families. Everyone looks their best all the time and is living life to the fullest. It looks like everyone is always doing fun things and it looks like it all just happens automatically.
The reality is many people struggle through their life with few social connections and spend evenings and weekends alone.
What looks effortless on social media actually takes some initiative and a willingness to step out and create the interactions you want and need. This is not always easy, and sometimes it helps to have another person to act as a sounding board and guide.
Saul’s therapist saw immediately that he was stuck in a blaming/victim pattern. He tended to sit at home feeling powerless and lonely, blaming everyone around him for not reaching out. Saul didn’t realize he had the ability to make the changes he wanted to see in his life.
Working together with his therapist they created four weekly goals:
1) Reach out to a family member (phone, messenger, text, whichever method the other person responded to best), and then set aside some time to talk or video chat with them.
2) Walk over to a neighbor’s house, knock on the door, introduce himself, and have a 5-10 minute conversation.
3) Find out when the weekly happy hour is at work, show up for it, and stay at least an hour.
4) At the end of annual fishing trip make plans with at least one friend to get together in the next month.
With a list of concrete action-items to start with, Saul was able to take the first steps toward improving his situation. It wasn’t long before his weeks started filling up with a variety of social interactions he enjoyed.
Plans for enhancing social connections with others need to be tailored to fit everyone individually. Everyone likes doing different things, and different people have different levels of tolerance for “making the first move.”
Working with a therapist at Peak to Peak is a good way to explore what you can do to create and maintain more fulfilling personal connections.
The case studies on this website are fictionalized accounts based on real situations and people we’ve been honored to work with at Peak to Peak Counseling over the years.