Do You Ever Feel Lonely? How Connecting Changes All That.

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Putting Lonely in Perspective

All of us at various times in our lives feel lonely. But as Bill Murray says, we rarely talk about it. Why?  Because society often equates talking about loneliness with other taboo topics of disappointment and failure.  We feel weak if we admit to being lonely. It sounds as if people don’t like us, we don’t have (or know how to make) friends, or that we are unlovable.

Of course, none of this is true. We are all lonely at different periods in our life. And if a celebrity like Bill Murray has the courage to admit he feels isolation and loneliness, it is a certainty that those with less fame and fortune feel similar aloneness during their lives.

The Difference Between Being Alone and Lonely

When I was a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother who had become a widow at an early age.  I relished being in her company because she had so many interests and I could explore the world through her eyes. From going to the library together, to learning how to cook artichokes, to playing card games, to perusing the contents of family scrapbooks, to sitting at her knee as she played jazz on her old upright piano, I relished being in her presence. When we were apart, I missed her.

One day I asked my grandmother if she ever felt lonely. I was surprised by her answer.

“I am often alone,” she responded. “But I never feel lonely. That’s because I know where to find you!”

It wasn’t just me she knew where to find. She also had deep connections with many people she cherished. Some were family, others were neighbors, and yet others were people she met randomly in a store or in church. She knew where to find them all.



What Circumstances Cause Us to Be Lonely?

Look back at times in your life when you have felt lonely. When was it, and what caused it?

Here are just a few examples of what makes us feel lonely:

1) Moving to a new place and not knowing anyone.

2) Taking on a new job or responsibility and not having any peer relationships.

3) Experiencing a crisis and not having anyone to talk to, or share it with.

4) Living (or being) alone if we prefer not to.

5) Being in a situation which is unfamiliar, and having no support.

Loneliness is often subjective. What makes one person feel lonely makes another feel nourished. We have all said: “I would kill to have time for myself!” or “Just give me one night alone.” In those moments, what we are really saying is that we need time to replenish and renew without the pressures of life encroaching.

Real loneliness is a feeling of emptiness, of sadness, of separation. Real loneliness can cause anxiety, mental and physical health issues, and advance aging. Real loneliness has been on full display during Covid.

 Why You Should Connect Ahead of Loneliness

Do you remember the song: “What the World Needs Now” by Jackie DeShannon? The lyrics in the first stanza are:

“What the World Needs Now

Is Love Sweet Love

That’s the Only Thing We Have Too Little Of”

Given the importance of being connected, I’d rewrite the song to say: “What the World Needs Now is Connection. That’s the Only Thing We Have Too Little Of”. If we all felt connected, being lonely would not be in epidemic proportions, it would be incidental. And like my grandmother, we’d know where to find our connections.

So, get ahead of the game and nurture your connections BEFORE you need them. Going through life without support is almost impossible. It takes time and energy to build enduring relationships. But having them in place will keep you healthy and mentally strong all your life.

Write to me at Ann@AnnLouden.com and tell me about connections you know where to find.

Author

  • A seasoned executive in the nonprofit world, Ann Louden is the founder and CEO of Ann Louden Strategy and Consulting. Recognized for her expertise in fund raising, high profile special events, and campaign planning, Ann provides counsel to chief executives, staff, and volunteer leadership. Ann’s primary interest areas are education, health care for women and children, the arts, and adoption. As a cancer survivor, she led and was the twelve-year spokesperson for a breast cancer advocacy initiative that engaged thousands of survivors, volunteers and medical providers. With a mantra of bringing big ideas to life, Ann focuses on identifying a compelling vision and creating a goals-oriented plan for execution. An in-demand national speaker for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Ann is the recipient of the Steuben Excellence in Teaching Award and has been named as a CASE Laureate. She is the author of the upcoming book: From Social Courage to Connection: Lessons from Leaders Who Change and Save Lives. You can find her at www.AnnLouden.com.

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