The Gifts of Lonely
Have you ever felt lonely? I have.
I also notice lonely people. I see older people eating alone at a restaurant, or someone at the movie by themselves. Of course, I may be telling a story. They may be alone and super happy. But I'm sensitive to "lonely" people because I know how isolating it can feel.
I have amazing friends. But I haven't always had many friends. And even now with amazing friends, I can still feel lonely.
In my therapy practice, I often hear how people share how lonely they feel. Some people will go to great lengths to avoid lonely. We can be scared to be alone.
But feeling lonely has gifts, and I want to tell you about some of the ones I have been blessed to experience. This is an important part of finding self-love.
First, I want to declare that I am not minimizing the pain of feeling lonely. I also know that there's the true loneliness of people who don't really have anyone to call on. The loneliness I am speaking of relates to:
* Being in between relationships and feeling uncomfortable,
* Having difficulty being by yourself,
* Needing a partner or roommate or friend around alot,
* Feeling left out of groups or isolated,
* Having people to reach out to but not feeling like there's anyone who really fits or connects with you harmoniously.
Finding healthy connections can be difficult. Finding friendships that feel right can be as difficult at finding a romantic partner that feels right. Good friends can come from:
- A mix of common interests,
- Believing in similar values,
- Having mutual concern and respect and trust,
- Not keeping score of who does what because there is an ease and balance in your relationship,
- And, having similar significant experiences - for example, you had similar childhood struggles or similar experiences with ex-'s.
And maybe I'll talk about finding good friendships another day. For today, I'm going to focus on how to be lonely and explore it with more ease.
There are different things that bring us to lonely:
* Maybe someone has passed away, or
* We've gone through a breakup, or
* There's been a relocation or move, or
* You've not been included with the friends you had, or
* _________ (Insert Your Situation Here)
I'm sharing three steps to help you cope with lonely and three gifts to look for. Here they are...
Three Steps to Cope with Lonely:
1) Breathe and Bring in the Self-Compassion - In my recent Mindfulness-Based-Stress-Reduction Training, I learned the power of just breathing and feeling self compassion for myself when I'm in emotional pain and suffering. I don't have to do anything to feel better, other than breathe and think kind thoughts to myself.
2) Practice Self-Care - This means acknowledging that you can care for yourself and you will. If you don't know what this means, sign up for my weekly Love Note email or ask me. At its most basic, self-care means doing things to fill your "gas tank" and help you feel better emotionally and physically. These are choices that are good for you, and not negative quick fixes.
3) Take Inspired Action to Notice Others - You can positively engage and interact with people as you proceed through your day. Look in the eyes of the grocery store checkout person or barista... even people you work with... or someone you pass on the sidewalk. Feel your connection to others, even if you don't have deep conversation or a friendship. This can help you feel less isolated.
Three Gifts to Look For:
1) Could you consider feeling lonely as a gift in the first place? When we are occupied with lots of company (good or bad), we can loose touch with who we are. What if feeling lonely is an opportunity to help you know yourself more.
2) Could you consider lonely temporary? If you knew that being lonely was a limited experience, how could you use this time well? Have you ever been with someone who only wants to watch the tv and movies they want? Have you forgotten who you are or maybe never knew in the first place? Lonely time is time for you to do what you want and get to know you.
3) The most important gift is the ability to practice deep self-love. This is forming a close relationship with you. Did you know you are only who you need? Having good friends and a great partner is helpful. But having bad friends and a horrible partner is definitely worse than being alone - at least that's my humble opinion. Can you see yourself as a great companion? Can you do things for yourself that you wish others would do for you?
In this process, you can journal, paint, take classes, go to Meetup groups, take an adventure trip, get into an exercise practice... so many things. You don't have to answer to anyone. And the more you enjoy yourself, the more likely you'll meet the good company you desire. Not because you are forcing it, but because you are happier and not needy.
Sometimes we are also lonely because we are afraid of trusting - but that's another blog. Just an important idea to consider.
Let me know what you think?
Because I care and want to hear from you.
Remember there are gifts in lonely, and all it takes is the willingness to find them!