When I was a little girl, my mother told me something very wise.
She said, “Do you know how it feels to be lonely?”
“Yes, Mommy,” I answered.
“As you go through each school day,” she reminded me, “remember, everyone is at least a little bit lonely. Do your best to be compassionate.”
I know, my mother is a wise and loving woman!
Well, who knew I’d grow up to find compassion as a key factor of my liberation coaching practice! As it turns out, freeing clients from loneliness is a common challenge faced by my clients. We all go experience loneliness in varying degrees.
Why So Lonely?
So, why are people so lonely? It’s simple and complex at the same time. People perceive themselves as separate islands, not recognizing all that connects us. Ironically, I witness my clients feeling most alone when in a relationship. They feel stranded on that island, alone.
Of course, it’s impossible to actually be alone. There are 6 billion people on the planet, there are plants, animals, and insects in numbers far beyond counting- but the experience of “alone-ness” is quite real. I know, because I spent more than a decade feeling utterly alone!
I used to be consumed with pleasing others, being overly busy with obligations I didn’t enjoy, working too many hours, fearing being alone and settling as a result, and wallowing in old painful wounds. I simply awoke one day, nearly 15 years ago, and knew there was a better way… And there was, and there is for you too.
The more complex answer is that people receive messages as they grow up that they’re not good enough, that they’re unlovable or unworthy. Relationships within our families tend to cement those messages and permeate into our connective selves as we mature. These messages turn to beliefs, and beliefs can be tricky to navigate and make it quite difficult to express our fullness, greatness and uniqueness because we are stuck in feelings like, “alone and loneliness”.
The problems fester when we don’t move through it. Most people are feeling lonely, but not enough people are talking about it and then talking through it. People are feeling isolated because of loneliness, and then the cycle begins again. It’s heart-wrenching. No one needs to feel alone.
Take Action: Liberate Yourself From Loneliness
We must first begin by understanding that in large part, the feeling of loneliness is a mental construct and needs to be changed. That being said, your feelings are real to you, until they no longer exist.
1) Own It. First you must tell yourself the truth. I feel alone. We are all to inclined to disguise painful feelings with dysfunctional habits like lashing out, silent treatments and yelling. Or we bury our feelings of loneliness with substances, food, work, child “over-management” or shopping. In order to remove painful feelings, they must be acknowledged and you have to make the definitive choice to remove them.
2) Presence- The reason presence comes from the root word present is because there is no greater gift! As you learn to be in and embrace this moment, loneliness will dissolve.
Lamenting the past is where the majority of fear and related emotions such as anger, bitterness, sadness, separateness, frustration, self-loathing were learned and now remain a part of your present, and keep you feeling very alone. Anticipating the future also inspires fear and related emotions like anxiety, worry, or dread and too keep us feeling quite isolated. Embracing this moment however, this exact moment, and then the next and next consecutively, but one at a time becomes pure unadulterated joy (not happiness as an experience, but JOY as a state of being). There’s rarely anything wrong in this moment.
There is only wrong thinking. Tragedy and trauma actually happen in a few brief moments of our entire life, a minor fraction of the billions of moments you live. Yet, the stories we tell about the painful and difficult moments overtake the positive moments by the thousands.
Whether replaying the painful drama stories of hurt or anger your mind or sharing it with another, the point is, it happened in a brief moment in the past; you’re still in pain because you’re NOT living in this one! Embrace now, and feeling alone will fade.
3) Tell On Yourself! So, while I just encouraged you to be present so that pain is not a part of your current experience, I certainly do not want you to pretend, or displace your feelings.
Feeling is not the same as a sharing a story. Sharing the fact that you feel alone can be powerful, liberating, and requires courage! Practice sharing the completion of this sentence “I feel_______”. Then stop talking. I promise, you will find it wildly tempting to add the why, or who’s to blame or a justification for the feeling. But all you need to do is share the feeling and then share space with the other person. They too will be incredibly tempted to ask why or to fix and provide a solution, but it is more valuable and efficient to share the feeling, and then sit as it dissolves into the peaceful present. This is perhaps the most useful practice you can ever implement to combat loneliness.
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Cheers to Liberate Living! Shawn