Someone on the site asked me to think about loneliness…here are my thoughts.
What is it about the holidays that give us that lonely feeling? Surrounded by everyone we love and everyone that loves us, yet we can feel utterly alone. How is that possible?
I went through the loneliest times of my life this year. Like so many things that we feel is wrong with us, alone is just in our own heads. It’s not a fact, it’s an opinion. And usually the opinion from a mind that is struggling.
And for me, when I feel lonely, I shut everything down. Shutting off people as close as my wife. My siblings. My parents. My best friends. And that only makes it worse.
My favorite definition of loneliness, and the one that I think relates closely to the way I would imagine the great samurai would speak about it, is that loneliness is like a social pain. A physical pain in your body is a warning signal that something is wrong…like a terrible ache in your knee might be telling you that you have a partially torn ACL. Loneliness is a social pain, telling you that you need to connect better with people. You need to reach out more. You need to socially inject yourself back into the lives of others and have them injected into yours.
So when I shut people off when I feel lonely, it’s like feeling that bad ache in your knee, then going out and playing basketball on it, tearing the whole ligament to shreds. It’s making it worse. Much worse. It makes the recovery much longer. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s counterproductive.
So when I come to a conclusion like this. And think about it in my ‘normal’ times. Not my crazy times when I can’t put thoughts together, I can hopefully remember this and act the right way as opposed to the wrong way.
So to fight off loneliness, like anything else worth doing, takes time. And it takes action on your part.
Everything in your life that you want requires action to get. Know that. It doesn’t just come to you, while you’re just sitting on the couch, unless you just sat down after putting in a pile of work.
Relationships take time. They take energy. If you feel like you don’t have any good friends…then you aren’t spending enough time or energy on people…or you are spending the time and energy, but with the wrong people. Think about where you are with your friends and family. It doesn’t mean to swap them out for something better, but maybe the nature of your relationship needs to change.
Now, everyone goes through bouts of loneliness with the loss of a loved one, be it a break-up, divorce, or something more tragic like death. And I get that. But we all know that time heals those wounds. As cliché as that sounds…it’s true. Not every day is going to be your best day. Not every year is going to be your best year. Know that. And these kinds of things, that are out of our control, can affect you negatively. And that’s OK sometimes.
The only thing I can say is to keep pressing onwards. Keep doing the right things in your life. Keep living a life you are proud to call your own. You eventually will turn the page. It’s not to say you won’t look back or be sad about those events or people at times. But you will put happy and positive layers in between you and that grief. And that is what you need to do to move on. And live a happy life.
In my hardest times…in my worst times…I feel like my eyes are closed. It’s like I’m asleep and don’t notice the people and the love flowing around me. But it’s only after I wake up that I realize how much of a fog I was in. How lost and off the path I had gotten.
If you’re feeling lonely right now, open your eyes. Wake yourself up. Go out for a run and run harder and faster than you ever have before. There is something called sage out there, which I’m sure many of you know well, and many of you think is just a spice to use in the kitchen. Get some sage, and burn it around yourself and your house. I don’t know if I believe it all the way, but it supposedly cleans your energy. I know everything feels fresher after I do that.
Once you’re awake, look around. I’m sure you have many more people around you than you realize. People that would gladly be with you in a time of need. In a time when you’re struggling.
No one needs to feel alone this or any other holiday season. Or for that matter, any season at all.
This is the truth…I haven’t felt alone since all of you started coming to this site. The least I could do is be there for you. So if you’re feeling alone at anytime…know that I’m here. Know that we’re all here. And feel that warmth. And feel that strength.