Friends For Days But Still Alone
Allegedly 1 out of 5 Americans suffer from persistent loneliness.
Does that make you feel better? To know you aren’t alone in your loneliness? Me either.
Standing in a crowded room or surveying your oodles of Facebook friends doesn’t mean you have proper support. In fact it probably is adding to your sensitivity towards feeling alone… because it’s a false sense of connection. It’s not close. It’s not tangible. It’s not real.
The reality is that support and connection comes from the core. The person who cares for you first and foremost has to be… you. And they don’t teach that to you in school.
You’re taught at a young age that validation comes from the clothes you wear, the things you have, the smarts in your head, the beauty of your face and body, how many lovers you have, and the connection you have to spirituality and community. While I don’t discount those beliefs I am saying, no thanks, because those things don’t make me feel any better.
What make me feel better is waking up and knowing that I control the outcome of my day, that I am choosing the perspective to feel less like a victim and more like a participant, and that I can trust myself… implicitly.
Being able to distinguish when something is right for you… being able to distinguish when you are on the right path for yourself… being able to trust your own gut instincts… this is support. This is the opposite of feeling alone. This is being filled with care.
So what do you do to find this trust? What steps can one take to really get them out of the loneliness they are plagued with?
1. Journal the crap out of your feelings. It doesn’t matter what you write (or say if you are making a video/recorded journal). Go deep. Put it all out there. No matter how awkward or inappropriate it seems. No matter how uncomfortable or sad it makes you feel. Get it out of you. How many thoughts, inspirations, feelings, and emotions do you have? Get them out of you.
2. Take five minutes. Sit on a chair, close your eyes and breath. Pay attention to the breath coming in and how your chest or belly expands. And then let it out. Just keep doing it. Don’t focus on anything else. Let thoughts come and go but don’t get stuck on them or beat yourself up if they come. You’ll notice in a few days that you want to increase the time. You’ll notice in a few days that you’re actually getting something out of it although you probably can’t put your finger on what that is. Don’t think about it. Just keep doing it. This is the beginning to meditation.
3. Dream a little dream. Write it, say it, vision board it… use whatever means possible to put your dreams out into the world and take steps towards realizing them. If you are actually pursuing making your dreams a reality the fulfillment of that action will feed your soul exponentially.
4. Giving is receiving. Make someone else’s day brighter by whatever means you can afford – time, money, effort. Figure it out. Can you buy a Costco load of socks and deliver them to the homeless? Can you put a few extra dollars into a charity? Can you give your time to make an elderly’s day a little happier? Whatever your definition is of service – do it.
5. What people in your life can actually comply with giving you the support you need? You do have them… and if you don’t you need to find them. Make them the Connections That Count.
6. You do you, boo. When you need a day of nothing, take it. When you need a day in nature, go to a park. When you really don’t want to go to the baby shower, kindly decline. Take care of yourself and don’t feel bad about the choices you are making. They are what you need.
7. If all else fails, find some extra support. Therapist… doctor… acupuncturist… healer… muse… coach… whatever you feel will get you the result that you need, I say take it, no shame.
I’m not saying there is an easy out for the depths of the emotion we feel. It takes work. It takes a lot of self-reflection and pain, to be quite honest. I’m not diminishing your experience. It hurts. It’s hard. It’s completely soul crushing. That is, until it’s not. Feeling your feelings but shifting your perspective ever so slightly from victim to student might make you realize that what you’re going through means you can learn how to not go through it again. As Henry Rollins said, “Loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better.”