“Lonely is not being alone, it’s the feeling that no one cares.” – Unknown
No matter what facet of life I am in, whether working at my job as an employee, raising my children as a father, being a husband to my wife or simply living as a citizen in society, I fully understand that I am a part of a greater collective. And in that collective I run across people who are at various stages in their emotional state. Some may be harboring anger from a recent or past incident while others find themselves saddened by their current state of affairs. Regardless of the state, I know at any given time we all have been that person and will continue to be as we live from day-to-day.
However, there is a stark difference when we find ourselves in these aforementioned conditions and add loneliness to it. And I am not speaking of the act of simply being alone, but the state of feeling alone, even within a large group.
Imagine if you can that one in five Americans suffers from persistent loneliness, well according to an article written in the Huffington Post (March 21, 2015) this is exactly the case. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/21/science-loneliness_n_6864066.html
It is that condition where we feel disconnected to our greater surroundings and possibly continue to withdraw from our social networks. The implications can be quite detrimental specifically to our mental and physical health, and seeing how vast this number is, just in the United States alone, we either have been that person or ran across someone (almost daily) who is currently suffering from loneliness.
Like so many of us, we have equally become experts at masking, or what I refer to as the art of disguising ourselves. You know that place where we only display what we want others to see, nothing more, nothing less? This becomes a place of safety, and even if it is only an illusion it makes the sufferer feel better, at least for the necessary moment.
So what can we do to help offset the many negative implications of loneliness, short of medical science and therapy? I believe a lot and it won’t cost us a thing, except for our time and perhaps becoming a little more attuned to the people who make up our communities.
Think about how rushed we are in life on a daily basis. To the point where we hardly recognize those around us. We say our hello’s and share niceties about our weekends and our kid’s soccer game, but rarely do we actually “see” people, or better yet “hear” them.
This does not have to be a prying session of your colleague’s or neighbor’s intimate life details, but more practically a conversation that conveys mutual respect, genuine concern and a display of giving a damn about someone else. Unfortunately a rarity in our current society.
I firmly believe that we are either building bridges towards this or blowing them up on a daily basis. It is so easy to cut someone off, shun them or keep them in the shadows of our lives deliberately, and since this applies equally to our professional and personal lives, the opportunities to make a real difference are grand. It must first become our choice and then a decision to act on it.
Can we save the world? The optimistic me says yes we can, one person at a time, however in order to rescue people from themselves, the ones that understand grace, walk in gratitude and live by a faith larger than themselves must first step up and touch someone else with words and actions that matter and equally resonate with that other person.
This is where our personal time comes into play. The time required to think of someone besides ourselves, the time required to be thoughtful or considerate, just because it might cause someone else to feel better and the time required to thoughtfully listen and respond with care and empathy.
I realize it will take much to change our world, and the way things are headed it may seem like this type of post is worthless, but I am committed to doing my part and that is providing a forum for those that dare to care enough and desire to do something about it.
Let us not forget those that are lonely and despondent. Let’s remember they live next door to us, share the roads with us, work next to us, live with us or perhaps they-are-us.
“I’m learning to love the sound of my feet walking away from things not meant for me.” – A.G.
Have you ever been in a cycle of your life where you found yourself more angry and uptight than at peace? A time when everyone and most circumstances that evolved around your life seemed like an annoying problem. You know that season of your life when the only time you weren’t complaining is when you were sleeping, but even then peace was far from your slumber?
Not only were you perpetually unhappy, but those around you hated to see you coming, because you certainly were the dark cloud in their lives as well. Of course you didn’t mean to be, (maybe) but you were. The center of turmoil for many, but mostly yourself. Even if others would argue that, it probably is still true that you were more miserable than you were making others.
Perhaps that was you once upon a time, or it accurately describes the place you are in today. If you are taking the to read this post, than it must mean you are somewhat concerned about your current status of being a tyrant, party pooper, or the one that family, friends and acquaintances avoid. Or better yet, you recognized this state of affairs long ago and have since done the work to bring it into submission.
However if you are that one that still finds themselves blaming others for your current condition and are adamant about it, I pray this post gives you some insight and encourages you to finally see yourself and how you impact others around you, but most especially yourself.
We all have a family member, friend or colleague who will go to their grave arguing about the unfairness of life. Nothing ever works, nothing ever fits or goes their way and it is always someone else’s fault or responsibility.
One word that comes to mind when describing this personality, and that is…draining. They are energy zappers and usually have no idea the travail they bring to every doorstep and circle they are connected to. And I get it, sometimes they are connected to us in ways that we cannot avoid or change, so removing ourselves from them may not always be an option.
So what are we supposed to do when we’re confronted by knuckleheads, consistent bitchy attitudes and downright mean individuals, who want nothing more, but to see us in misery and turmoil? Well I am reminded of a scripture in the Bible that says, “Be at peace with all men as much as it depends on you.” – Romans 12:18. In other words, the peace we need to experience in our lives may take some work and discipline on our side, and it does not necessarily mean becoming a doormat. If we continue to wait for others to get better, finally see the light or turn over a new leaf, we may find ourselves disappointed, because some never grow up and mature.
As a nearly 50 year-old man, it took me a while, but I finally recognize my peace is mine to own and protect. No one should ever be able to penetrate my appropriated peace unless I give them permission to enter. Anything short of that should be declared as a violation of personal space.
So how do we get there? To that place where the unhappiness of close friends no longer depicts our well-being or state of mind. Of course we will and should always be sensitive to world events and concerned about what is happening in our communities and families, however when these events consistently overwhelm us and begin to take precedence over our well-being, we have surpassed the point of simply being concerned citizens or good people. We enter the world of becoming a victim to bullsh*t.
Since this is NOT the road I plan to travel on I made the choice to grow up and understand my place in the lives of others, whether they were hostile family members, antagonizing colleagues or unruly acquaintances. That growth looked liked me not being attached to there issues any longer. I learned the art of separation. Not from them as people in the world, but as people attempting to drag me into their unresolved issues, specifically the ones that I had no involvement with.
So many times we caring people want to save the world around us, (and I commend us for that) but when it comes at the cost of our mental stability and health, I think not. We must become comfortable being uncomfortable. Simply stated, get used to the fact that everyone will not be happy when you finally take a stand for what you believe is right for you.
Love them and give them advice when they seek it, but stop attaching yourself to their issues that have nothing to do with you. Stop being a victim and a puppet. Live your life without guilt. We are NOT responsible for the emotions and feelings of others. We are not to blame for the shortcomings of our dearest friends and mates. We have this life to live and we must all grow up at some point. For those that choose to remain in perpetual adolescence, I’ll be praying for you, but from afar.
“Be brave enough to have a conversation that matters.” – Dau Voire
Communication is the means to exchange information, whether personal, business related, relevant, irrelevant, good news or bad. Somehow and someway we all need to have a conversation with another at some point to simply talk about things. The subject matter usually ties directly to our own emotions and thoughts towards having that talk. The, “I can’t wait to talk to you” conversations are typically easy and will bring someone joy or encouragement. The ones we attempt to avoid, or procrastinate to have are the ones that won’t necessarily place a smile on the face of the recipient. The idea of that talk brings us angst and produces feelings of restlessness, but can be equally life-changing, crucial to all parties involved, and usually essential to living an emotional healthy life.
Although I am not qualified to explain how avoiding a crucial conversation affects us medically, I do know how it makes me feel. It’s as if I begin to live a life of duplicity. There is the man that everyone seemingly knows and interacts with everyday, and then there is that guy smiling to the world but internally struggling with one or several people on some particular issue that he just cannot seem to shake.
Even as we seek and receive good advice from friends or counselors and have great discussions that make us feel better, this is still not an antidote to having that talk yourself. Waiting only produces more angst and makes it harder.
Many times we are waiting for the perfect moment that will probably never arrive. We even convince ourselves it will be better delivered in a certain way and at a specific time. The problem is deep down we realize this is an excuse we use to gain more time, because after all we do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Well have you thought about your own feelings and where they fit in the big scheme of things? While you are trying to protect someone else from being hurt or becoming angry with you, those same emotions begin to negatively impact you, due to lack of release. I believe it is a great characteristic to not take joy in the demise of another or celebrate the pain someone else is experiencing, and the fact that most people who tend to have a difficult time engaging in “that talk” feel this way, are usually the best at delivering the difficult message, simply because of their intent, which is never to hurt anyone.
So whether you have been contemplating on how to engage in a difficult situation at work, having a dialogue with your spouse about something you have been withdrawing from, or speak to your best friend about something that has bothered you for years. There is no better time like now to start the conversation.
What has helped me during these often stressful moments is to comprise the talk with several short conversations. The situation did not develop overnight, so it will not be solved that way either. Do not seek to fix it with one talk, instead take it in small bites and deliver the message with honesty, courage, integrity and compassion.
If necessary write your points on paper and address them specifically, one by one. This tends to be my approach, because its easy for me to lose my train of thought in the heat of the moment due to the potential emotional duress the conversation brings me in the first place.
Of course we are all different. Some folks can deliver a hard conversation like deliberately dropping a microphone on a stage, walking away, without ever looking back. I am not that guy and probably never will be, so my process will look different and perhaps even weak to some, but it is nonetheless my process.
At the end of the day, respect for others, dignity towards the people I claim to care about and living by the golden rule matters more to me. Even with those that deserve less, I still give it, and you should attempt to do the same. Just not at your expense and suffering.
So have that talk, make it plain, make it true and be direct. You will feel much better in the long run, if not immediately. Your honesty can only be respected, even if it takes years for the recipients to fully understand and connect with your words and motivations.