8 fibrosis. She also began teaching swimming to special-needs children and adults, which she continues to do today at the YWCA. Her students have such disabling conditions as Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida and Cerebral Palsy. “You soon realize you can’t indulge yourself by wishing for something that’s not going to be. When you start reaching out from your world, there’s so much you can do with yourself to meet people on the same journey, to help them meet their challenges.” 6 Be Proactive If you’re unsatisfied with your current friendships or feel that you’ve outgrown old friends, go out and recruit new ones. Meet folks beyond your job and neighborhood, enroll in an evening course, go on a retreat, sign up to help in a political campaign, join a sports team, participate in a Bible study, or become a member of your church choir. Before long, you’ll have many new friends. Consider Carol’s experience. When her husband took a new job in another part of the country, “I suddenly found myself very, very lonely. I missed, terribly, my old neighborhood and my many friends. After brooding about my circumstances for a few weeks, I decided that enough was enough.” Carol began intensely to reach out.
“Although it was difficult, as I am naturally a shy person, I forced myself to get involved and forge new friendships. This meant being open to new social experiences. I joined the local League of Women Voters and rather quickly found myself immersed in all sorts of community issues and meeting a wide range of individuals in our city. A year later I’ve managed to develop a very nice circle of friends,” she says. 7 Increase Your Level of Caring An important key for warding off loneliness is care. Be a person who cares for others, for animals, for the environment, for life and everyone and everything around you. “When you maintain a pattern of caring, whether for a horse, a garden, pets, or other people, you are protecting yourself against despair,” says Dr. Aaron Katcher, M.D., co-author of Between Pets and People. 8 Turn to God God is a specialist when loneliness and anguish are deep. When it seems that no one understands or cares about you, work to remind yourself that God knows you, loves you, cares about you and is present in your loneliness. Turn to God in prayer, asking Him to help you 9