I asked some wise folks (who I also happen to like) about how they address loneliness in their lives. If you've been feeling out of touch with your people, or wishing you had more of them, consider these seasoned perspectives.
"I have no idea how to combat loneliness. We've been here almost five years and I'm still lonely. I'm sure there is praying or a number of books, but honestly that just doesn't take the place of another human being to be close to." - Kelly
"Nowadays it's very rare that I feel lonely, due to the fact that I'm a single working mom! Quite frankly, I enjoy loneliness every once in a while. I've grown to realize that everything in life is temporary. So - crazy as it may sound - whenever I feel lonely that's when I
take extra time for myself to be by myself
. I make an effort to put myself first. Usually that feeling of loneliness comes from a lack of prioritizing yourself and scheduling things in your life that make you feel happy, accomplished, fulfilled -- even if it is just for a brief moment, or hour, or day." - Tatiana
"Loneliness is not a feeling I have often. I am comfortable being alone and have deep relationships with a few select people.
When I feel lonely, I find it accompanies feeling the loss of my mother. Combating that feeling, for me, is to remember how she loved me. How she forgave my errors and guided my wisdom. Since having Amber, I think about how much she would have loved her 7th grandchild. And sometimes, just sometimes, I imagine that Mom's soul is within Amber. Even if that isn't possible, all those things Mom taught me are still here with me, which means she is also here with me." - Debra
"Maybe it's a function of age or wisdom, or neither, but I don't feel the need to remedy loneliness like I did before. Meditation, walking and hiking all help me lean in to it compassionately, also journaling (written and audio). And, of course, talking to a trusted friend or two helps me get perspective." - Leila
"I have moved a lot over the past 30 + years and with each new home came new neighbors that I didn't know, saying goodbye to friends and wondering if I'll ever meet new ones.
Having small kids definitely helped me get involved in areas where I met new people. School programs or sports, I got involved, joined a club of some sort -- tried something new.
I knew from past experiences, the best way to meet people was to throw myself out there. Smile, say hello first, make eye contact. Just a simple conversation with the checkout person at the grocery store can lift your spirits and theirs. Making someone else smile can be an amazing tool to your joy and happiness." - Mere
As for me, when I'm lonely I try to make myself get out and around people, even if I'm tired and don't really want to. An exercise class, or -- like Mere said above -- the grocery store, even a phone call is something. Then I try to calm my awkward or grouchy feelings and tell myself:
"See what you need to see."
Because, you know, the natural tendency is to focus on what
I want to say, what I want others to notice about me, what I want them to ask or admire or comment on. MeMeMe.
But to genuinely connect, we have to see beyond ourselves. Ask, "What does this person need me to notice about them?"
Then, pay sharp attention. Don't try to finish their sentences. Ask sincere questions, and then be willing to fully digest the answers. Remember details for next time. And be willing to share if they ask for your thoughts.