Probably 80% of the people I spoke with last week told me they’ve been feeling lonely. That’s pretty interesting because most of them are living with multiple people while in isolation. I have heard so many times from many of you, over years and years, about the emptiness of loneliness, especially when you’re with people. Particularly the very person you’ve committed your life to. What’s that about?
So, what can you do when you’re feeling lonely? I’m sure you’ve tried all the obvious stuff. You’ve likely Zoomed yourself into submission. Or maybe you’ve taken your dog on so many walks that they’ve started hiding from you. But my thinking is that we have to learn how to not feel lonely when we’re by ourselves before we can figure out why we feel so hollow when we’re with those we love. So, here are just a few ideas I have to help you become better company for yourself.
Revisit Your Opinions
I’m not telling you you’re wrong. I’m just asking you to consider that your points of view can expand if given the chance to. Think you’re ready to challenge yourself? Pick a subject you feel strongly about, like free speech, and make a strong argument against it. You can do it by writing, or you can do it with someone in your home who’s open-minded and understands that you’re just talking your opinions out for a little exercise. Research the drawbacks of free speech on google and remember, you’re not getting a doctorate on this. It’s interesting to see the world through the eyes of other people and cultures.
Test Drive Your Capabilities
I like poetry. So, yesterday I sat down and wrote some. I did it for myself and it’s a good thing I did because it turned out pretty lousy. But then I spent only an hour reading about what makes poetry good, a class I was fortunate enough to take back in high school actually, and I was able to go back into the poem I wrote and make it better. I’ve been writing for years. I once had a column called “The Truth Is.” I was a reporter, a features writer, and a copy editor. But the elegance and simplicity of tight poetic musings have eluded me until now. So, I’m test driving my capabilities. I think you might find you’re capable of creating just about anything if you just sit down and try. Your own lines might be quite good company.
Become More Interesting
I think interesting people know stuff that I don’t know. I already know what I think I know. When I become quite bored with myself, I learn something new. Because I work so much with people who are working on broken trust, I sometimes ask them to stretch their thinking to see the added value in things that are mended with love rather than something new or perfect that show no wear. I like to keep good company with the culture of Japanese art and wisdom so yesterday, I kept myself interesting and learned more about Kintsugi. Kintsugi is a Japanese art that mends broken pottery with gold and silver, the metaphor being that the reparation of something damaged is part of its history and this makes it more valuable.
Lose yourself in songs and lyrics. I have heard, and I believe it to be true, that when we are happy we hear the melody, but when we’re feeling lonely or sad we listen to the words. There’s no better time than right now to grab your headphones or AirPods and listen to music outside your norm. If you’re a lyrics person, listen to every single note and each subtle sound that’s making that music great. Try some country. Listen to classical. Expand yourself.
Now is a great time to find a keyboard and discover who you might just have been meant to become. Rewrite a song with your own lyrics. There are no rules here. You will feel so much less lonely when you understand that the world is so much greater, that YOU are so much greater and that life is so much greater than how you are currently fully living yours.
Feel the Weather
If the sun is out, soak up every ray. If it’s raining, absorb the rain on your hands and face. Elements are your friends. If you can, accept the simplicity of the friendship of everything around you. The wind is one of my very best friends and has been since I was a small child.
We are living through unusual times. We are not only experiencing major history in real-time, I think we are living through something more epic, something that is bringing us more permanent change than we all can realize or even imagine. So, don’t waste these momentous months feeling lonely.
Be your own best friend. At least you won’t be as bored or irritated by others, internally, when you have someone quite interesting and of much better company inside of you. Generate internal warmth and connectedness with everyone around you. We are experiencing this together, so take comfort knowing that your struggle right now is universal.
If you know of anyone, anyone at all, who could benefit from any of these tips, use the buttons below to share on Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget! to join my email list to receive updates on new posts. Sign up in the next couple of days and I’ll send you my “Ground Rules for Effective Conversations.”