On Connecting To Strangers
The Sidewalk Talk Blog
One of the downsides of loneliness getting a lot of press with Dr. Vivek Murthy’s book, Together, and others, like Johan Hari’s, Lost Connections, is it can lead folks to shame their lonely feelings.
There is no shame in loneliness.
In fact, loneliness can be a really good sign. It means your human systems are letting you know you need more connection or that you need to help your brain fully see and receive the connection you have!
If you are feeling lonely right now...your systems are working. And if you don’t totally dig feeling lonely that makes total sense. The feeling motivates you to go out and get connection.
And if you are feeling lonely right now and dig the bittersweetness of it, you are not alone. Olivia Wilde’s book, The Lonely City, is a gem. You can read more about it here. For many, loneliness ushers in a kind of poetic reservoir of creativity if one can tap into their resilience while experiencing loneliness.
I have two ways I react to my own lonely feelings.
The negative stuff I do with lonely feelings includes:
Ick. Not fun.
The positive stuff I do with my lonely feelings include:
Rather than something to be controlled, lonely feelings are something to notice and be with and let them inform our choices and livelihood while at the same time not letting them rule our life. Our loneliness always deserves and requires our care and attention.
When we don’t take care of our lonely feelings and when the world doesn’t create more connection, what Dr. Murthy and Johan Hari so nimbly point out, is we create a world of illness. Mental illness. Physical illness. Addiction. Violence. Injustice. These ills start from loneliness.
Go back and listen to the podcast with Spring Washam. Life is a wild ride. Blocking feelings blocks aliveness so practicing cultivating a fierce heart to welcome in loneliness is a practice. And when we practice we impact ourselves and those around us.
I am a fan of not making any one thing we experience as a human bad. So no “war against loneliness” or “get rid of loneliness” or “end loneliness” or “loneliness is shameful” but rather let’s create a connected and caring world. Let’s start right here, right now with you. Let’s create connection and caring about all the parts of you. All the parts of me. Then we can love and care about ALL the many different kinds of people and their parts. Let’s love so much bigger than we ever imagined possible. Loneliness can make us sick or it can remind us to love.
I am a woman, therapist, wife, mom, friend, listener, and founder/leader of Sidewalk Talk. You can subscribe to my couples therapy list here.