I was talking to a friend on the phone. I have recently purchased a home. The home is older then I am and my age is more than you can count on your fingers and toes. I had sent some funds aside for remodeling or much better put upgrading. What I failed to set aside was the mind frame that I had just purchased an old home and with old homes come, well things that need to get fixed. Leave it to friends to remind of your reality. “You purchased an old home.” No, my non-favorite response from my friend is not, “It’s going to be okay.” No kidding! But right now it doesn’t feel okay.
I don’t know about you, those 5 words pierce my heart and invalidate my feeling. Yes, I may be sensitive at that point. That is my right as an individual. I know it is going to be okay. eventually – now is the struggle. The awareness of the now takes versus futuristic thinking. What would it be like if you gave me room to be with my emotions? If I could sit with my stress? If I could sit with my anxiety? If I could just sit with me…..? I could be with my emotion then allow the feeling to flow without minimizing or maximizing the emotion? Your part would be to be my witness.
Emotions are not a bad word nor such a terrible feeling to feel. Perhaps we have spent too much time avoiding emotions and now we have to learn Emotional Intelligence (EI). EI is, for those who do not know, is the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. There are books written on EI. I hold counseling sessions for adults and kids who struggle with EI. Think about that for a moment. We as a society have lost the skill of expressing our emotions or being able to read emotions in others which indirectly impacts our level of empathy and compassion. We fluctuate from being mad to being happy and we label each other bipolar.
Four mental and psychological processes are involved in feeling: Arousal, situation, interpretation, followed by behavior. EI demands awareness of how emotions influence our thinking, judgment, and interpersonal behaviors. Our emotions are responses to our arousal states. Self-awareness is key to our authenticity, sense of agency, and impactful relationships.
Next time when life becomes difficult or when we get disturbing news or when stressful situations appear persistent allow yourself compassion. Not, it is not a good situation. Allow yourself the emotion of disappointment or pain. Don’t catastrophize simple notice. If you notice your friend going through a difficult time be there witness. Give them an elbow high five or an empathic expression to let them know they have been heard and that you will be there for the ride. It’s going to be okay; for right now just you may need to cry your tear or eat that chocolate. Take a few deep breathes and rest in the beauty of being human.
I sat with her, listening to her story of being alone and feeling overwhelmed by her loneliness. It had been years of marriage, then the divorce but still some child was around. All the children eventually leave home and choose to go away to college. Funny how they choose not to go near the dad nor stay near the mom. They moved to their spheres. After years of a on again off again relationship the relationship finally came to end. The end coincided with the empty nest. Friendship were for not.
She found herself alone and drowning in her loneliness. Was it the impact of being alone? Was it the loneliness? Was it the break up? Was it the empty nests? She went to work Monday through Friday. Attempted to fill her time so as not to sink into her loneliness. One would think that attending events, happy hours, activities would fill her loneliness; yet, she found herself returning home after the events with tears not understanding the waterfall from her eyes.
Curiosity took her to research being alone. Chains unloosened as she gleaned a new perspective to being alone:
Being alone is okay. Sometimes, no most of the time okay is good enough.
Being alone helps one look at life with curiosity- nothing is mundane. Listening skills are sharpened. One’s eyes see with renewed perspectives. Like a small child first experiencing a butterfly with wonder life becomes awe filled.
Silence is indeed golden. Being alone rewires our brain toward an increased peaceful state to experience life’s present wonders in the now.
Being alone would not last forever. After all we are made for relationships.
Now loneliness is another animal. Loneliness carries a psychological impact that is subjective based on how one feels in connection with others. Loneliness often has the person feeling isolated which makes them isolative. Chronic loneliness has links to struggling with Bipolar disorder, anxiety, stress, and depression. Perceived or reality loneliness is real.
She became friends with Alone. No longer did she begrudge her time by herself. Being alone became a time of self renewal as she took time to know herself and love herself. With loneliness she found balance. She dared to go to Meetups, happy hours, or community events and talk to others. She even dabbled in on line dating and was confident in herself to not get involved in relationship that were not beneficial to her soul. She took time to become involved in causes she cared about but prior for reasons was not able to roll up her sleeves and get involved.
Who is she? She is you. She is me. She is the freshman college student that went away to college. She is the partner that feels distant from her partner. She is the one that feels alone in the crowd. She just moved to a new state or a new job where everything is new and strange. She realized that being alone was part of a transition to know herself and better herself for connections in relationships.
She is daring. She is life to behold.
Please note that chronic being alone or the chronic feeling of loneliness requires some help. No man is an island unto himself. So please, if you find yourself in extended feelings of desolation, withdrawn, melancholy, or gloom reach out – there is someone that care.