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In my opinion, one of the toughest emotions to deal with is loneliness. Loneliness can creep in during the middle of the night as we lie in bed, it can show up in the middle of party when we realize we don’t really want to be there, or on the couch with a partner who really doesn’t get us. Loneliness can show up when we are truly alone or when we are surrounded by other people. The truth is loneliness is real. It is a part of the human condition-it is something we all have to face and deal with whether we are in a healthy partnership of 25+ years or have been single for 5+ years. Loneliness is different then being alone. You can be surrounded by people and feel lonely and you can be alone and feel joyous and happy.
For many of us we run from this loneliness, we shove it down, we ignore it, we jump from relationship to relationship trying to not experience it. But loneliness is always there. It is a painful reminder that we aren’t getting a need met, that we are sad or scared or vulnerable. Many of us make bad decisions all in the name of trying to avoid loneliness. We stay in unhealthy relationships, we hang out with people who don’t support us, we fill our lives with noise and distractions so we don’t have to face ourselves.
For most of my adult life I have lived alone. I use to book myself sold with parties, dinners, movies, just to be out of the house. I convinced myself that I had a full exciting life because I was never home. One night as I was sitting across the table from a friend eating dinner out for the 20th straight night I realized, I felt lonely. Even though my schedule appeared busy and I was alway surrounded by people, I wasn’t really connecting with anyone. I was trying to avoid the loneliness that I felt in my soul by booking myself solid with dinners and people. I booked myself solid with people who didn’t really know me or care about me. I realized I had to face the loneliness. Today I still have moments and periods of loneliness, and honestly, my first instinct is always to run from them. But I have learned that loneliness is part of the human condition, it is there to teach me something. I built relationships with people who love me and support me who I know I can call when the loneliness overwhelms me.
Facing our loneliness allows us to Live Happier. It allows us to look at our lives, our relationships and make sure we are hanging with quality people who love and support us. Loneliness might be there to tell you it is time to face a loss, move on from an unhealthy relationship, or gather new friends. It is counter-intuitive because we all want to run from it. The next time that dreaded loneliness creeps just TRY to welcome it. Ask it what it has to teach you, write in your journal, or call a friend whom you trust. Most importantly, start building some awareness around your loneliness and how you deal with it.
When does loneliness creep in for you? How do you handle your loneliness? What are your favorite ways to distract yourself when you feel lonely? Who do you trust to talk to when you feel lonely?