Loneliness and the human experience
It’s World Mental Health Day
A day created to raise awareness and advocate against the social stigma of mental illness
Look at Instagram!
Look at Facebook!
(No, actually, don’t look at Instagram or Facebook! They’re dangerous. Poison! That being said, I’m totally on there.) :]
Back to your Instagram & Facebook feed:
Everyone is so happy...
What hair product is she using?
Is everyone except for me on friggin’ vacation?!
Should I move?
I would definitely be happier if I lived in southern California.
I should move to Portugal.
Remember, they’re all filtered. And this is not every minute of their every day. And if it is their every day, you should unfollow them immediately.
Seriously, stop reading this and go UNFOLLOW at least ONE PERSON who makes you feel like crap when their photos come up on your feed.
How’d that go?
OK, so when you’re not feeling happy, or
you’re not having dinner with your many-many friends, or
you’re not sipping margaritas by the pool in Cabo, or
you’re not taking your designer-oodle dog for a walk in the park,
and you think something’s wrong with you...
Life is 50/50. 50% positive emotion/50% negative emotion.
And yes, sometimes it feels more like 70/30. And that’s OK.
I’m not discounting real, diagnosed mental illness here. I’d just like to offer that it’s OK to not feel awesome every minute of every day.
When I left corporate America in 2014 to start my own business and work from home, I was so excited. Filled with possibility. Excited to not have the constant interruptions of people around me, the boss telling me what to do and when to do it. I could go to an 11:00am yoga class. Take a long lunch. Set my own hours. All of it.
Then guess what happened?
I had a total meltdown about 3 months in.
Meltdown = lying on the wood floor crying, clutching my chest, feeling there was no meaning in life.
It wasn’t that I was stressed about work or money.
Business was going well.
I was lonely.
Working for yourself and not having “real” co-workers can feel hard at times.
Many of my coaching clients work for themselves.
Some of them work in co-working spaces.
But many of them work from home.
Isolation and loneliness can feel terrible.
Here are a few things I like to do when these feelings come up, because yes, they still come up sometimes:
1) Call a friend and set up a lunch date, pronto
Having something to look forward to is key. Also, if you can schedule it same-day, bonus points. Human interaction is essential.
2) Be “a regular” somewhere—“Norm!”
By that, I mean: On the regular, visit the same coffee shop. Get to know the baristas by name. Personally, I shop at the local health food store several times-a-week. I’ve made it a point to learn the employees’ names, we chat for a bit, and... check: in-person human interaction had.
3) Learn to process your emotions on purpose
People all around the world suffer from sadness, isolation, and loneliness. If you regularly have similar feelings, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or that you are “clinically depressed.”
Learning to process your negative emotions is key. This isn’t about resisting the emotions. It’s about processing them so you can then let go.
Describe the emotion in detail to yourself.
Write it down. What does it feel like in your body?
How do I know this is “loneliness” or “hopelessness” or (whatever it is)?
What is specific about this sensation in my body?
(Do I feel it in my throat, my stomach, where exactly?)
Then, instead of trying to get rid of it. Breathe into it. Allow it.
Know that you can handle any emotion.
And that emotions are just vibrations in our bodies.
4) If you just can’t do it on your own, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional
Contact a talk therapist, a psychologist, or a Suicide Prevention Line.
And if you suspect someone you know may be feeling this way, reach out to them.
Invite them to lunch.
They may be suffering more than you know.
And your invitation may be just what they need.
To learn more about how life coaching can help you manage your emotions and live a better, happier life, please reach out to me directly via email, here.
photo by Alex Ivashenko