Loneliness is a fact of life. Visits all – sometimes when we are alone,:often when with another. How much it hurts is mostly up to you.
Many things accentuate loneliness. Just being alone lots; being the odd person out in any group; and saddest for all, not being heard or understood, particularly by someone you love.
Myths and media add to loneliness’ pain. Believing “The Happy Every After” myth dooms one to loneliness when the bad stuff intrudes as happens in all relationships. The happiest of married couples find this out when one of them dies. That may explain in part why 50% of long married spouses die within six months of each other.
The media inflicts its pain by reinforcing:The Happy Ever After” myth as it hawks images of happy people, laughing or playing with at least one other happy, laughing playing partner.
My lonely times started when I was seven and had to change schools. I was the first new girl in my class and not welcomed. In time, I found friends. then in my teens also found my one true love which lasted four years, but when it ended the pain seemed at first to be a for ever after one.
In time, I moved on to other loves, but remained unmarried until in my early thirties. That made me “an odd one out” at a time when women’s primary goal was marriage and motherhood.
Marriage and motherhood brought joy and wonder. Marriage and motherhood also brought times of great loneliness.
Now I am growing more deal by the day . The loneliness of not being heard as well as not hearing once again makes me the odd person out and lonely, particularly in crowds.
As Kate Locke, deaf from childhood, noted “Many people don’t realize just how difficult deafness can be. It is a hidden disability, an isolating disability, because it is one of communication.”
She describes a situation I am coming to know all too well; she was a college student at the time: “… one day I really thought I had a relevent and interesting comment to make about a topic we were discussing. So I put my hand up, said my bit, and there was silence. The lecturer looked at me in a funny way, and said: “I just said that.’I was so embarrassed. I never made another comment or participated in that class again.”
She also thought seriously of committing suicide during her college years. I urge you to read her blog The Isolation of Deafness and Considering Suicide.
Whenever I open my mouth thinking I have heard what is going on, I am opening my heart to “funny looks.” Even among those who I know love me most get a look that says I am the odd one out. In public many are polite, but the hurt remains and so I grow more silent every day.
The following tips, while not magic, help me.
Emotional Fitness Training Tip One: Examine your beliefs about loneliness, “The Happy Ever After Myth” and what matters. Doing so will reduce unrealistic expectations and keep you from “awfulizing” when lonely.
Psychologist Albert Ellis coined the term awfulizing. Awfulizing is a form of twisted thinking that turns grains of sand into boulders blocking your path. Think of a teenager who won’t leave the house because of a pimple no one else notices.
I am not suggesting a Pollyanna solution. Loneliness is painful. Nonetheless, your thoughts, beliefs, and actions have the power to worsen or relieve that pain.
Emotional Fitness Training Tip Two: Have a life mission. Mission statements are big in the business world, and where I first encountered them. However, once I thought about my personal mission, my life acquired a focus that gave me a better sense of who I am, what I stand for, and how I want to be as a person.
As one poet said, “I have to live with myself and so I want to be good for myself to know. ”
If you like who you are, being alone moderates loneliness.
Emotional Fitness Training Tip Three: Set SMART goals. Your mission defines who you are, but goals are the smaller way stations of life. SMART Goals are also a business tool, but again, one that works for individuals also.
Emotional Fitness Training Tip Four: Get a hobby, in fact get two. Make one of your hobbies something that takes you totally out of yourself into another place or world. The hypnotists call this a trance state. Reading page-turning books do this for me. A good novel or well crafted mystery and I am involved with the characters and, so for the moment, forget all but the most horrendous of life pains.
Make the second of your hobbies, creating something. Obviously, blogging does that for me, but so does crocheting. Both give me a sense of purpose. Crocheting has an added value as it has a meditative, soothing quality; and finally in time I end up with something concrete that I can take pleasure in having created.
Emotional Fitness Training Tip Five: Practice some Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises. In fact practice all Twelve.
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Stay strong, it is not always easy.
This post was somewhat inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt. Futures Past – As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How close or far are you from that vision? (Thank you, mirakraz and tori23, for inspiring this prompt!)
Not that I followed the post, but it did prompt my thinking about growing as a human being. Here is a direct answer about my first dream of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was taken to the movie National Velvet when I was eight years old. From then on all I wanted to be was a jockey.
By the time I was 11 years old, I was 5’8″ and still growing. Despairing, I spent quite a few evenings sitting in bed after lights out, with a huge dictionary on my head, hoping to keep the inches from piling up. Hurt my neck and I gave up that dream.
Then I wanted to be writer, but had dyslexia and when college was done the only job I could get was as a Social Worker. Lucky me that was my true vocation.
LINKS OF INTEREST
These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.