Feeling lonely? And if so, what kind of lonely are you? And how is it affecting you?
I often talk to my clients about how lonely they are. And this makes me think about all the different ways to feel lonely.
You can be lonely because you spend a lot of time alone. Or because you have people in your life, like co-workers, but few if any who you can sit down with and have a conversation beyond complaining about the boss. On the other hand, you can have tons of “friends” that keep your social calendar packed, but nobody that you would feel comfortable talking about what’s really going on with you. You’re not feeling that close, or maybe you don’t think they would understand. And you can be in a committed relationship but still not feel emotionally connected with your partner.
Being lonely can have an impact on your emotional wellness. We need to have other people around us, to make us feel cared for and supported. Someone to listen. To give you some encouragement. To set you straight when get in our own way. Loneliness may have a negative impact on your ability to think clearly and make decisions. And loneliness may affect your ability to deal with stressful events, as well a factor in depression.
Loneliness can affect your physical wellness. It may be a factor in developing certain conditions like cardiovascular disease.
Another question: What would make your loneliness go away?
I hear lots of “if only” in conversations about loneliness: If only I found someone to be in love with. If I had a good friend who is available when I need him/her. Or if my family members were more understanding and supportive. One magical solution to make all those lonely feelings disappear.
Sure, any of these solutions could help you to feel less lonely. But think about this: If you have decided that there is only one solution to your loneliness, then you might be missing out on other ways to be connected with people in a meaningful way. And you might find yourself feeling pretty disappointed. There are lots of ways to feel less lonely, and a lot of people to connect with. How about thinking outside of the box?
Bringing more people into your life can require doing some work. Starting with recognizing what’s keeping you from forming relationships. And figuring out where the people you want to meet might be congregating. It’s not magic. It’s a project. Are you ready to take it on?