There was a very helpful article this week in the Guardian about how to keep yourself sane during the autumn and winter months ahead: how to maintain friendships, cope with being cooped up with your partner, and how to be friendlier with your work colleagues when working from home.
Some aspects of human psychology make it harder for us to make the connections with others that we really need for our emotional well-being.
- The more self-critical we are, the more likely we are to underestimate how much other people like us. This means we hold back from initiating contact, for fear of rejection.
- If someone rejects our invitation, we tend to assume they don’t like us and this belief undermines our self-confidence and makes it less likely that we initiate again.
- If others don’t initiate contact with us, we believe that we don’t matter to them, which again makes it less likely that we initiate contact.
These beliefs about ourselves and others hinder us in creating the relationships we need. They are also unrealistic. We often think that other people’s responses to us are about us, when in fact they are usually about themselves. When someone rejects your invitation or doesn’t invite you, there are other explanations that are much more likely – such as they are busy/preoccupied/have too much other stuff going on/didn’t think you’d be interested – than that they don’t like you.
It’s much more helpful for our mental and emotional well-being to adopt more realistic beliefs.
People who initiate contact with others are less likely to be lonely and more likely to be satisfied in their relationships. So don’t hold back from connecting with your friends because of unhelpful beliefs. Adopt more realistic ones and as the nights draw in, take the initiative to get in touch.
And if you make other people feel like they matter to you and that you respect and like them, they are much more likely to want to be closer to you. There’s more about this in the chapter on Power and Charisma, in my book.