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For the rest of the week, I am in DC for a conference. I flew in last night and I am blogging before I head down to my first session of a 4 day conference for therapists. I am always amazed at the mixed emotions that traveling brings to me–on one hand I love getting out of my routine, seeing new people, new places, taking care of basic needs and figuring out the lay of the land. However, traveling, especially for business, is lonely. Ironic, really because I live alone so the idea of eating alone, sleeping alone, filling my time alone isn’t new to me or even uncomfortable. But when I travel for business as I walk around everyone seems to have someone to spend their time with or talking to someone. Loneliness, I feel is worse, when you are surrounded by people. You FEEL like you should have a connection, you have this false sense of bond but really when you look around they are strangers who unlike you appear to be connecting with a lot of other people.
Someone once told me that Spring is the highest time for depression because people think they SHOULD be out and about doing stuff and they see other people outside having fun and they get more depressed. Which makes sense to me, in the winter we are all inside so you assume everyone feels like you do, but in Spring there is an added pressure for someone who is depressed to get out there and interact and take part of the beauty of Spring.
I have seen a build up of loneliness in my practice lately too. We all long for some kind of connection, someone to hear our story and share in our lives. With the busyness of our lives, going to work, raising kids and having friends and family living in different cities or states sometimes it is hard to connect with each other.
It is my belief the world would be a better place if we all took some time to REALLY connect with those around us. To really greet the man who sells you your morning coffee, or the person who works in the office next to you. To take time at the end of the day to hear you partner share about their day and really listen to their anxieties, concerns, joys and pain. Although feeling lonely in a group of strangers is challenging, it is worse is when you feel lonely and you are surrounded by people you care about. The challenge is to admit you are lonely and start making changes to add more connection. Not just having people who will hear your story but start listening to other people’s stories too. Connection starts when we open up and admit we are struggling. When we admit we feel lonely.
So today I am going to embrace my loneliness I am going to really connect with those around me, listen to their stories and share my own. I am going to take the time to build connections at this event and tomorrow when I wake up hopefully I will feel a little less lonely.
My challenge to you is to do a check in–when do you feel most lonely? Who do you want to build a deeper connection with? What small changes could you make to enhance your connections with friends or even strangers?