Are you feeling lonely?
“You smile, but you wanna cry. You talk, but you wanna be quiet. You pretend like you’re happy, but you aren’t.”
We are in the middle of a loneliness epidemic.
Nearly half of Americans reported (sometimes or always) feeling alone, and over 40% said that they don’t have any relationships that feel meaningful. Rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s.
Society often rewards isolation. It wants us to be good little worker bees… keeping up with doing our busy work so that we can contribute to the GDP, keeping our heads down, and buying a bunch of stuff that we don’t need.
Fewer people are marrying and having children. Corner stores are being replaced by big box stores and online shopping. Community parks and playgrounds are being replaced with parking lots. The HOV lane’s are empty, as everyone goes it alone on their way to work.
And what is the cost of all of this isolation and disconnection?
It has been shown that loneliness has the exact same negative impact on our health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day, making chronic loneliness even worse for us than obesity.
And with an increasingly large aging population, the overall effect on public health will likely only increase with time (as people over 55 often get hit the hardest and have even fewer reported confidantes in their lives).
What Is Loneliness?
It’s hard to perfectly define because loneliness is so personal and subjective. One person’s social quota might be more than filled by seeing a friend once per week, and another person would feel strangulated by that lack of social stimulation.
In a sense, loneliness lives in the discrepancy between what someone has in their lives and what they want to experience.
“Sometimes I just want to disappear and see if anyone would miss me.”
People can have an abundance of relationships in their lives, and still, feel a lack of alignment or depth in those relationships. So both quantity and quality play a role when it comes to eradicating the loneliness that so many people feel.
How To Feel Less Lonely
Try out some (or all) of the following tips, and you’ll be and feel more connected to others in no time.
Regardless of whether you’re new in the town you live in… you’re craving more depth in the relationships you already have… or you don’t have a friend to call on in the middle of the night if you need help, the following ideas (when put into action) will help you.
5 Ways to immediately feel less lonely
BEFORE I LOSE YOU BECAUSE I USED THE WORD MEDITATION…
Realize that all I mean by meditation is literally sitting down for two minutes and observing the thoughts that roll around in your busy mind.
While you may want a greater quality and quantity of social connection in your life, there may also be a further upstream difficulty that you are secretly facing. And that is the problem of being disconnected from yourself.
“Your goal is not to battle with the mind, but to witness the mind.”– Swami Muktananda
Your mind/your heart/your innermost desires may have been calling for your attention for years, but not making any progress.
Sit down for a moment, listen to your own inner world, and this may have a greater impact on your feelings of disconnection than you could have guessed.
Eradicating loneliness is ultimately all about connection. And if you want to be able to connect to others, first you must connect with yourself.
2. Extend to someone
One of the most common pieces of advice that I give whenever I do coaching sessions with married couples is “Give what you most want to receive.”
For example, if a couple is arguing because one of the parties involved doesn’t feel like their partner listens to them enough then their task would be to listen to their partner more.
It is the same thing in multiple areas of life. And it is definitely this way when it comes to eradicating loneliness.
If you wish you had more friends, be a good friend to others.
If you wish you had friends who you felt deeply supported by, put effort into deeply supporting others.
If you wish more people reached out to you and asked you to hang out with them, reach out to others and ask them to hang out with you.
“My values, our values, aren’t about pointing fingers. They are about offering a helping hand.” – Kathleen Blanco
Be the thing you wish you had, and watch how quickly your life transforms.
A word of caution: our ego doesn’t want to do this at all. It will resist this message like the plague.
“But I want the energy… I already give so much to others (or whatever the story in your mind sounds like). I want to receive!”
Well, too bad. This is an insurmountable impasse that needs to be honored.
The way through this resistance is to give what you most want to get… and then get the feedback and the results you’ve been after.
The world is full of lonely people who are afraid to make the first move. So make the first move.