Sometimes I get lonely.
After all, I own my own business and I work from home (mostly). I have amazing clients who I love, but coaching sessions by design are about them, not me.
And it’s not like I crave the chance to talk about me (okay sometimes I do), but I do love one-on-one time with a friend where we can share what’s going on in our lives and get real and vulnerable or laugh and have fun (or both!).
Weeks can go by without me having that kind of exchange. I’m lucky to have lovely friends who will eventually call me up to get together, but they have busy lives too.
And why is it their job to call me anyway?
You can get caught in that trap when you’re lonely though, can’t you? If you are sitting around feeling alone and nobody is showing up, you might start to wonder what’s wrong with you.
Why doesn’t anyone care enough to call and make plans with me?
And if you really give into that during a lonely time period, you might not be willing to reach out for fear of being rejected. That would, of course, give you further evidence that you aren’t worth much and make you feel even more resistant to reaching out. You can see how the cycle gets worse and worse and worse.
So when I start to feel that loneliness set in, I force myself to reach out to a friend. But boy, that can be hard if you’ve gone too far down that road of isolation.
I’ve learned to notice the signs that loneliness is setting in so I can prevent that from happening. I start to feel tired. My productivity, creativity, and excitement about my work start to fade. That in turn makes me feel like the last thing I have time for is lunch with a friend. BUT I’ve discovered that is when I need the connection most. And if I’m starting to feel sorry for myself, that’s when I know I’m in too deep.
But let’s go to worst case scenario for a minute. What if all of my friends moved away or moved into a time zone where I couldn’t even call them? What do I do then? Do I just toss in the towel?
That’s when you go into rebuild mode. Just like when you move to a city where you don’t know anybody or maybe when you find that you just don’t have friends in your life right now. It’s time to build a new network of friends.
It can be tough though. It’s like dating…finding someone you like enough to ask to coffee or a meal, being brave enough to ask, and then getting to know each other from the beginning. You have to tell your story all over again and communicate who you are and what’s important to you. Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? So many people feel intimidated by the prospect of building a new relationship, they just don’t bother trying.
But here’s the problem.
As humans, we are meant to be in friendships, relationships, and partnerships. It gives us meaning and purpose. It makes us feel a part of something bigger than us. It makes life fun. I’m going to argue that you are never too old to make a new friend. And you never have too many to make a new one either.
But it’s up to you. Waiting for the world to come find you to haul you off that lonely road isn’t very proactive. And the longer you stay on the desolate road, the lonelier and lonelier you will begin to feel.
So I challenge you to two things…
- Pay attention to your “lonely” signs. How does loneliness look for you? When you know the signs, you can catch it before it takes over.
- When you feel it set in, call a friend. When you’re in too deep it’s so much harder to drag yourself out.
You might want to practice that last one right now before you have those first signs. Nurturing your friendships is a great way to strengthen your support system in case you ever do need people to come in and haul you out of your dark cave. Get comfortable making plans with people and setting aside time in your life for those moments. You might be able to avoid loneliness altogether.
In fact, I dare you to go call a friend today!