Don’t Let Your Loneliness Define You
Experiencing loneliness is not fun. As a matter of fact, Mother Teresa described loneliness and feeling unwanted as the greatest poverty there is. My aunt was a lonely person. It appears that she was lonely for a great portion of her life. Only recently did I glimpse a greater picture of my aunt and the way she lived her life. In one of my earliest memories of her, she was difficult and appeared to be a whirl of conflict and agitation. As a child, I did not know what to make of this. I also remember that she was not around often or long before she whirled out of our lives again, sometimes for extended periods of time. However, when she was around, she seemed disingenuous. Truth be told, I did not really know my aunt for many years of my life.
After my father’s death, I had the opportunity to connect with my aunt more. She still had the characteristics that I remembered, like isolating herself, believing that no one cared about her, and being incredibly needy, as well as a tendency to be unkind to people if she felt that she was being treated disrespectfully. She was a conundrum of sorts. She was both needy and isolated. She wanted everyone to like her, yet she could be hostile. It has occurred to me that my aunt’s lizard brain was very active during her life. It kept feeding her stories of how people were mean to her or were talking behind her back or that people would not want her to join their social circle. The unfortunate thing is that my aunt bought into these stories hook, line, and sinker. She believed everything her lizard brain was telling her and spent much of her life experiencing tremendous anxiety, depression, and poor health as a result.
I share this with all of you because I am so aware of my aunt’s presence in my life. I am mindful of the gifts that she offered to me and my partner for the past 9 ½ years when we were connected in a more thoughtful and therefore compassionate way. She was my constant reminder of how I did not want to live my life. She was also my constant reminder about what is important, including family, friends, connection to others, and belonging. In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown states, “We are psychologically, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually hard-wired for connection, love and belonging. Connection, along with love and belonging (two expressions of connection), is why we are here, and it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” (p. 68). This is the greatest truth there is. This is what is so important for all of us to remember. This truth helps us be compassionate with those who struggle to be kind, those who struggle to find anything good to say, and those who struggle to be grateful for anything in their lives. Additionally, knowing the truth about what is most important in life can help us all create and design lives that allow us to fulfill our hardwired need for love and belonging. We may say that we want wealth, power, or fame. However, research shows us that none of those things bring us true joy. We can be wealthy, powerful, and famous and still be extremely lonely. In a nutshell, we are social beings, and when we are not social or we feel unwanted there is tremendous suffering.
Another lesson my aunt has taught me is how vital it is to investigate our thinking and to not fall victim to the stories being created in our heads. I think that people who have lived a great portion of their lives feeling lonely may not even see or appreciate the kindness given to them, as was the case with my aunt. I think there were many who reached out to her. However, she was extremely distrustful and listened more to the lizard brain voice in her head than she did to other people. Unfortunately, she struggled with receiving friendship and love. My wish for her and for all of us is to find peace within ourselves and to mindfully connect with others and create long-lasting happiness in our lives. We will all thank ourselves for making love and belonging our number one priority!
Are you feeling lonely?
Are you honoring your feelings of loneliness or shoving them under the rug?
Are you a captive audience for the story running through your brain?
I would love to support you as you connect with your loneliness in an effort to be more connected to others in life.
My aunt’s recent death and the following TED talk that my brother shared with me have prompted this e-newsletter. The TED talk is definitely worthy of fifteen minutes of your time; it is Robert Waldinger’s lecture titled “What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness.”
I just thought I would share a few quotes that go along with this e-newsletter. I hope that you appreciate their message.
Until next time,
Safe Space Life Coaching