Yesterday I was going to write the most amazing blog post – you inspired me.
Why? Because I only write about what I know, and everything you said resonated with me. “I know that.” I thought to myself. “Yes, I’ve felt that way too.”
I had a consoling platitude for everything you said. I wanted you to feel better. I don’t want you to suffer. I don’t want that for you because more selfishly, I don’t want it for me. I don’t want to be in the dark place of feeling alone and not understood. Everyone needs to feel a connection; it is a basic human need. That thought: “no one gets me, I will never find someone that understands me, and I will live out the remainder of my life trying to fit into a society that has no space for me.” is soul-destroying.
Other thoughts often accompany this thought. “Why me? Am I not a good person? Haven’t I done everything I was supposed to do? Why have I ended up alone, what is wrong with me?”
And “Life is a lot of work, I don’t know if I’m up to this – I don’t know if I can live out the rest of my life taking care of everyone else when no one is going to take care of me. No, no, wait – that’s not it, I don’t want someone to take care of me (I like my independence), I only want someone to understand me.”
The thoughts come and go and morph, and you try to pin them down, but you end up crying on the couch.
You shove them down, and you get on with it because maybe you’re just self-pitying, and you go out, and you do get on with it, and you resurrect the little hope you have, and you try again because you are going to prove those thoughts wrong.
I am here to help you do that.
Why me? Well, I’ve been there many times.
That “I’m alone” thought surfaces almost every time I find myself alone. As a part-time single mom, with my own business and a hard time saying no, I don’t get much alone time. The irony is that I crave alone time, but as soon as I get it, I crater.
I crave alone time to reset myself and get back on track, but I can never get to that point because as soon as I’m alone, the defeating thoughts rush in. It’s usually the ones that come on a Friday or Saturday night or a beautiful sunny day in Vancouver when I find myself having that alone time that I’ve craved. Instead of savouring it, I think, “I wonder what everyone else is doing tonight – bet they’re not all sitting home alone.” It’s evil twin usually accompanies this thought:
“I’m alone. No one gets me. I don’t know if I can do this alone.”
In a desperate attempt to banish these thoughts, I would call, text, and email friends: “what are you doing?” They, being equally busy people, usually were. Back to the couch to cry harder.
It’s almost funny how I would sabotage my alone time with these two thoughts and then my desperate actions to fill my alone time at the last minute. I have spent many a Friday, Saturday night or Sunday day lying in bed or watching TV on the couch feeling sorry for myself. I had to do this quite a few times before I started to recognize that I was doing an excellent job of taking myself down. It took me a lot of work to begin to notice the thoughts that were defeating me and turning them around.
I am not alone.
I know quite a few people that understand and get me. So do you, you just haven’t met them yet. I’ve been on this path looking for connection and understanding a bit longer, so I know there is a shitload of people that are just like us.
I’d say most of the world feel alone and disconnected.
I have started to find those friends and those connections, those people that understand me, and it is incredible. It takes work, though. You can’t just sit back and expect new friends to fall into your lap. It takes courage, too, and sometimes, it is hard, especially if you have been trained to keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself. Or if you’re an introvert. Then it’s harder.
So, as I’ve already done it (and continue to have to do it), I’m going to share my recipe for how to not feel alone:
You must want to do something about it. I think some people get something out of feeling sorry for themselves, that’s OK – it works for them in some way. If it works for you, then great. You can stop reading here. If you want to change, then keeping reading.
You must have self-awareness. If you don’t have self-awareness, get it. If you now try to tell me you don’t have time to build self-awareness, I’m going to laugh at you. You’ve got time to sit alone and feel sorry for yourself, so you’ve got time to build some self-awareness.
There are a bazillion free resources out there to help you figure yourself out. If you need help, send me a comment. My next post will be putting together the list resources to do just this.
Self-awareness is most important – you must know what you like and what you want – hanging out with people who have different values, needs, and wants leads directly to the thought: “no one gets me.”
You need to be non-judgemental and open to the concept that people may have different ideas than you.
Being non-judgemental is essential to have for the next step, which is: you must be willing to meet people and put yourself out there. You need to tell people what you’re like to see if you are a fit. If you happen to be judgemental then something like this will happen:
“I’m a dog person.”
“Well, I’m a cat person, dog-people suck.” See you later.
One thing I have discovered on my life’s journey is that while there are a lot of people like me, no one is my exact replicant. I have learned that I need to ask a few more questions and spend a lot more time with people before I get to know who they are. Being judgemental means losing opportunities to do just that.
I think I also said this one, but being courageous and resilient help.
Not everyone is non-judgemental, and it can be hard coming up against someone with strong opinions who judges you for who you are. Especially if you continue getting a grasp on who you are. Or if you were trained in life to think your opinions don’t count.
As you discover things about yourself, you may also find that you don’t do things the way it seems everyone else does. It takes courage to stick to who you are, when I say how important it is to be non-judgemental, sometimes it’s most important not to judge yourself.
You need to listen to people and ask questions. This one is basic; how can you discover if you are like someone if you don’t know them?
What don’t you need to be?
Well, you don’t need to be good-looking.
That one is not going into the recipe for finding friends and connection. It messes everything up when it becomes part of the equation. It becomes the focus and distracts us from finding a genuine relationship.
Good-looking, pretty – blech. There’s another area where you’re not alone. We measure ourselves against that elusive standard of “pretty” and “cute,” and when we don’t measure up, we discount everything else about ourselves. We date men and women who think we’re hot, and we date them and are so grateful that they think we are that we forget about everything else. It’s no wonder we get disappointed by people repeatedly.
Here you are. I’ve told you that you are not alone, but it sure feels that way, and that prescription I’ve just given you to go out and find connection seems like a lot of work, and it’s going to take a lot of time.
Yup, it is going to take time. I’m not going to lie.
So how are you going to spend that time?
Enjoy yourself for a while, do more meditation, do more things you enjoy doing, or used to enjoy doing. Forget about finding “the one” for a while. Make finding yourself your mission. While you do that, take note of what makes you happy. Take note of what doesn’t. Call this “building self-awareness 101.”
And while you are out there seeking enjoyment, tell yourself this:
I am fantastic, and my life is good.
Do this for a while. I don’t know how long it will take, but I do know it will take. It works.
Oh, and one more thing. If that thought – “I am alone” starts to take over again, stop and reach out to the people who are in your life. And, every time you find another friend that is on the same journey, I want you to add that person to your life. It’s good to have a few people to reach out to that get you.