Are You Feeling Lonely?
Loneliness, as you age, increases your odds of early death by 45%, beating obesity at 20% and alcoholism at 30%. That's worth taking notice of! SUE LESTER explains how you can turn that feeling into a positive call to action.
Loneliness isn’t something to be ashamed of, nor is it the domain of the elderly, the shy, the socially inept, the ‘losers’ of society.
That feeling of loneliness is simply a warning signal from Nature that you are becoming separate from your ‘tribe’ and need to either re-connect or find a new tribe, for your own survival.
So the feeling of loneliness serves a positive purpose and is not a sign there is something wrong with you personally unless you say it to be, and then that self-talk is the real problem. Fortunately, self-talk can be the solution too. Self-talk is self-programming so you can talk yourself into or out of anything. Much is to do with the labels we give ourselves or allow others to give us.
“I’m too busy” is the common label of the business owner/career woman, especially if she is also a wife and mother. “I’m too tired” quickly follows. Both are signs you’re putting others’ needs before yours, and not taking your need for self-care seriously. Self-care in the form of healthy choices: food, drink, rest, exercise, fun, mental stimulation, connection to self, others and Source. The consequences in the short term are how you are probably feeling right now, and in the longer term, sickness, bitterness, business failure, divorce and depression.
So, what to do?
Firstly, acknowledge there is nothing wrong with you, you’ve just become disconnected and can do something to reconnect. Identify where you feel lonely – at work, at home, both?
Loneliness in the workplace: If you work by yourself, or run your own business, then it’s crucial you make time to get out and connect with others in similar situations through networking or meetup groups, or industry associations. Cultivate friendships, rather than just show up once a month for a friendly chat.
Know that social media can increase loneliness, through its superficiality, glossiness – everyone else seems to be having amazing lives, and algorithms (they are not ignoring you, your post just didn’t show up in their feeds).
If you work with many, then getting to know one or two on a more personal level, by asking friendly questions aimed at finding commonalities (suburbs, interests, family, travel, pets) and remembering their answers to continue the conversation next time, is a good start. Participate in, even instigate, social events. It is possible that there are none you want to connect with, then question whether it is a healthy environment for you, or simply accept and look outside work for your connections.
If you are feeling lonely in your personal life, then once again, it’s looking at what’s missing and how you can bring that into your life. As our values change, friendships and relationships can become uncomfortable. Focussing purely on your business, or your family’s needs can shut friends out. Consider whether you are leveraging off your children’s connections to build friendships, or hiding behind your children, using them as an excuse not to step out of your comfort zone?
Being lonely in your marriage is the most painful of all, and much more common than you might think. Seek ways to reconnect through memories of good times, consciously planning time for fun, being spontaneous, stop acting like his mother, starting a new mutual interest/activity, and seeking professional help. If nothing seems to work, then it’s probably time to re-assess the value and future of your relationship.
At the same time, ensure you are re-connecting with your old friends and family (if they are still a good fit). Start making new friends through getting involved in sports, interest groups, community groups, and taking classes etc. The first step in friendship is to smile, ask a question, then introduce yourself. Remember, just because people are family members doesn’t mean you have to even like, let alone love them. Your “family” don’t have to be blood relatives.
If all of the above seems far too difficult then professional help through a mindset coach can help by re-programming your self-talk, strengthening your self-belief and self-confidence, and re-building your relationships if necessary. A life shared with love and laughter is far richer than one spent feeling unhappy and lonely. True?
None of the above will be easy until you change your negative habits, thought patterns and self-talk. You may need professional help with this, so please ask. You deserve to feel safe, loved and connected, and that you belong. Life is too short not to. Be brave, book a time to chat with me via the link on my website www.SueLester.com
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