**Edited and revised on 02/14/2021.
This month, the topic of loneliness takes center stage. It can creep into our daily lives while we are distracted — busy handling the next task on our list.
Have your ever felt that you have been singled out unfairly? Or maybe you weren’t included in that conversation or asked to that event?
The feeling of being isolated or excluded while everyone else seems to be included can play havoc with our self esteem, and thereby, our self efficacy.
For example, when I arrive at work Monday morning, I find out that a group of coworkers went zip lining over the weekend. Disappointment and loneliness follow. Why wasn’t I included? Do they not like me? How come I didn’t get to go? These thoughts can multiply. I can start to view each interaction I face as a confirmation that I am singled out for exclusion — that I am alone here with no friends and no support.
Intellectually, we may be able to “talk ourselves down”, however, emotionally, it is a much harder battle to win. We can misinterpret the causes of our feelings and emotions about being alone, and when we do, the stories we tell ourselves can harm us and prevent us from moving forward. This can become a self fulfilling prophecy.
In loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, the authors, Cacioppio and Patrick write about how this misinterpretation can confuse us and lead us to reinforce the death spiral of beliefs that lead us to feel even more isolated.
The person who starts out with a painful, even frightening sensation of being alone may begin to see dangers everywhere on the social landscape. Filtered through the lens of lonely social cognition, other people may appear more critical, competitive, denigrating or otherwise unwelcoming. These kinds of interpretations quickly become expectations, as loneliness turns the perfectly normal fear of negative evaluation into a readiness to fend off blows.Ibid. (pg. 15) John T. Cacioppio and William Patrick
It Doesn’t Have to be That Way
There are ways that we can manage the consequences of loneliness, so that, we can reconnect to ourselves, reconnect with others and perceive events in a healthier way. When we manage our feelings effectively, we reduce struggle and suffering.
The Inclusion Protocol
Step 1: Include yourself. Remind yourself that nothing that ever happens to you can diminish you or the light within you. By reminding yourself of all of your successes, you reconnect to the parts of you that have been in the shadows.
Step 2: Include ease. Make it easy. For example, who can you talk to right now? Friend, family, or wise mentor? How do you know what’s really true about what happened? What would make you feel a hundred times better right now? By simply asking yourself questions to redirect your focus on what you can do helps you to ease the feelings of loneliness.
Step 3: Include others. Set friendship goals. Do you have a schedule to follow up and connect with your friends on a consistent basis? Do you have shopping friends, foodie friends, or book club friends? If you don’t, how would you make them? Whatever you are into, having friends to share your struggles and your triumphs with makes you less likely to get stuck when loneliness strikes.
We all can have moments of loneliness, but we don’t have to stay there! Just knowing that other people have had similar experiences can help make us feel better about ourselves and our lives. So give these three steps a try and you may find that loneliness is just a cue to remind you to connect to yourself, to connect with people, and to connect to the ideas that matter most to you.
If you feel that you want to take your habits of focus and self talk to the next level, you can click here to Learn more about High Performance Coaching. The next round of coaching is open. As a gift for applying for a free strategy session, I will give you my 52 Weeks of Vision Digital Journal for FREE! – 52 prompts that help you to learn more about your strengths, more about what you want, and guidance on how you will make the vision of your extraordinary life a reality. It’s my thank you to you for being willing to take that next step.
Thank you so much for reading and until next time,
Make the most out of the time you have!
With love and respect,
Coach “You are never alone”