Dear Life Matters,
I am hoping you can help me understand why it is that I feel so lonely? It makes no sense to me. I am very popular. I have many friends. I get invited to a lot of different special events and parties. Everyone likes me. I was recently voted the most popular employee and easiest to get along with at work.
Right now I don’t have a boyfriend but I date and I did have a boyfriend for many months. I felt a little better during this time.
I am sure I will have a new boyfriend soon.
My life is full of people and I know everyone likes me. I make sure to have everyone like me. I have always been the type of person that puts on a happy face and makes sure to make other people feel good. I just really want everybody to like me, in fact I hate it if someone is mad at me or doesn’t seem to like me. It upsets me a lot.
My mother says that I have always been a crowd pleaser.
So I just don’t understand why I feel so lonely; I feel very lonely and empty. What else should I be doing? Why do I feel this way?

Signed,

Sad & Baffled

Dear Sad & Baffled,
First off, I am curious if this is the only problem you are having or if there are other difficulties that you are experiencing. These feelings can accompany depression so if you are sleeping a lot or not sleeping, often feel tired, have difficulty concentrating and are also feeling hopeless, then you might want to get evaluated for depression. Or at the very least, read up on it because if your feelings of loneliness and emptiness are a part of depression, then depression has a specific treatment and is really quite different then loneliness on it’s own.
Having said that, the kind of loneliness you describe does occur on its own and fairly frequently among people who feel they must please everyone.
Having loneliness and emptiness when everyone around you likes you may seem like a puzzle to you but I think that you have lost perspective because you are the one experiencing it. From where I sit, my best guess is that you are simply not connected to these people.
From your description, it sounds like you are so busy making sure that everyone likes you that you forget to be yourself. Given your mother’s comment, this probably goes back quite a ways and will take some time for you to fully grasp and then change.
At this point, you made not even know who you really are. If you have become your persona and present the same thing to everyone, then you are not being yourself or connecting with people.
Wise mentors of mine use to say, “to be the same with everyone is to be with no one!”
If we are real, we are going to have different reactions and feelings as we interact with people. No two people are identical, so to feel the same with everyone is to be with no one.
So even though you are surrounded with people, you have to be feeling lonely and empty because your interactions with people are empty.
People may like you because you are pleasant and socially predictable.
That makes you easy for people and we all appreciate that from time to time.
But it is not the same as someone really liking you, caring deeply about you; it can’t be because you are not sharing your real self with others.
If you don’t want to feel lonely and empty then start working on being real with yourself and others and you will begin to feel connected. As I said earlier, this may not; it probably won’t, come easy at first. But if you do it, you will find the rewards of it to be well worth it.
Being yourself means that everyone is not going to like you, so you will have to get use to that. But the ones that do like you will really like you and you will begin to get that connection that you have been missing. You will no longer feel the emptiness and painful loneliness that you have been experiencing.
You may need some help to do this. Without knowing you or more about you, I can’t really direct you to a specific thing but I will say that you might just benefit from group therapy. Look for workshops or groups that are focused on self-realization.
Good Luck!

Dr. JoAnne Barge is a licensed psychologist and licensed marriage & family therapist with offices in Brentwood. Visit her at www.drbarge.com or send your anonymous questions to newshrink@gmail.com
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