In Part 1, I shared my story of experiencing Loneliness, and the journey I’ve walked, which led to my conscious decision to heal my Lonely Wound. Since I’ve embarked on this path of seeking ways in which to identify and heal my emotional body, I have discovered a few insights and tools that have helped me engage with the human emotion of Loneliness in new ways. I share them here.
- Being Present
Being present with where I am often means connecting with the feeling of loneliness itself and allowing myself to feel it fully. Allowing myself to feel the pain, to sit with it, speak to it and try to understand it more. Being present often means just being, listening without judgment, or trying to change or fix anything. It means observing within.
I’ve learned that Being Present also means being honest with myself about my life, and what factors in my day-to-day lifestyle contribute to the feeling of loneliness. For me, I am newly residing in Berlin, where I’ve met some beautiful people—but I haven’t found anyone who I’ve cultivated a deep friendship with. In the year that I’ve lived here, I’ve seldom had guests over, in honor of the sacred space I cultivate at home. Most of my social life occurs on the outside world.
Often, when I feel I don’t have a friend—that’s coming from a real place. How can I look that reality in the eye and be more present with it?
I also travel and stay with my family for some portion of the year to save money—so I often find myself reacclimating to different environments. Traveling the world in pursuit of what will best serve my Art, I’ve opted to live in places that are outside of my comfort zone, where black unicorns like me are rare. Not every place is like New York, bursting with a vibrant diversity and open expressions of any-and-every-flavor-of-human you can think of!
I believe that I will eventually enter a stage in my life when I will settle down and create a home for myself in a location and in the midst of a community of my choosing. From that space, I will be able to root down and sustainably cultivate that Soul Family that I speak of.
However, in order for me to get there, I need to follow the path that is in service of my highest growth, in service of my dreams–so that when I return to that place, I can authentically offer my presence to others, and share the fruits of the spiritual and material wealth that I’ve created.
This particular stage of my life requires me to travel in service of my gifts and experience the world outside of my comfort zone. That inherently comes with a level of transience and finding my way in social atmospheres where I may not see myself reflected in obvious ways.
My inner-work is to embrace the journey as it is. To re-discover and re-create my own reflection, to expand what it means to see myself reflected through another, and to find treasure in the connections that are available to me. To build a relationship with the global community. This requires a fullness of presence, and a willingness to engage myself outside of the box.
Because of who I am as a person, and the path that I have chosen to walk, I am in a unique life circumstance in relationship with my loneliness, that I need to see and speak to for what it is, without comparing myself to others.
- Re-Framing Loneliness
From offering presence to my Loneliness, I can also begin to re-frame the narrative of how I exist inside of it. In the past, whenever I felt lonely, it would hit me like a ton of bricks, and I would quickly spiral downward into a pit of negative emotions. This was in large part, due to how I felt about it. My attitudes and beliefs about myself in relation to loneliness influenced how I responded to the feeling when it came around.
Instead of viewing it as something that is happening to me, I can re-frame it as something that is coming up within me, and which requires a little more mindful presence to move and work through.
I ask myself- Is there is anything I can do in this moment to meet my own needs? Sometimes, I need to slow down, stop what I’m doing, and just breathe through it, cry, or go outside and nourish myself in the company of nature or other humans. Most importantly, re-framing Loneliness encourages the thought that I can move and work through the loneliness, and that it’s not a big eternal monster that’s going to swallow me up forever!
This year, I began reading Judith Orloff’s “Emotional Freedom” and it’s really helped to transform my way of approaching and thinking of Loneliness.
- Identifying and Working Through Triggers
This is a big one, and it’s often related to inner-dialogues and narratives I create that reinforce fears and traumas related to loneliness. Over time, I’ve come to learn a lot of my own personal triggers:
When I post something on social media and it doesn’t get the quality of response I would’ve hoped—which for me is not necessarily tons of likes, but more-so heartfelt commentary, appreciation, and authentic human connection–I often feel Unseen. Sometimes, I really put myself out there, and I feel ignored, alone, raw, and exposed. I quietly think, “No one sees or hears you. No one will ever see or hear you.”
Then, there are times when I feel like I would like to speak to a friend—when I need to speak to a friend. I am boldly reminded that I don’t have a close friendship with anyone that I feel I can call on. The only person in my life who calls and regularly expresses their love for me is my Mother. Ironically, Mom is not someone who I feel like I can fully open up to about whatever I’m feeling! Sadness washes over me. I begin to think of what I will do when my Mom dies, and I have no one. Who will be there by my side as I mourn? Who will support me if and when I ever need help in my life, especially after my only family member has passed away?
All of these fears are literally primal. They’re hardwired to our survival instinct, and our need for human connection to survive and thrive in nature. Our deepest human need is to feel seen, loved, and cared for. To know that we have community—a tribe that we can count on. When we isolate ourselves, or when we feel isolated from our “people”—whatever that means for us—it evokes a primal instinct within us.
However, we have the power to align with our Spiritual Consciousness and use that awareness to guide ourselves and harmonize with our primal instincts.
In understanding my fears, I have to admit my scope of human limitation: Accepting That I don’t know. I have to admit that when I put something out there, I don’t know if it’s going to be received in the way I would hope. Sometimes, I won’t even know if I’m being seen or heard or received in the way I would like, because that’s not always evident in the way people respond on social media. I have to admit that I don’t know what will happen when Mom dies, who will or won’t be there, or what life has in-store for me in the future.
But in admitting that—I can choose to have faith in something greater. I can have faith that things will work out for me somehow. That friendship, support—and a listening, fully present ear, eye and heart—will lend itself to me when I need it, even if I may not have a clue of who or how. I have to trust in a Higher Power, a Greater Plan beyond my limited comprehension, and lean into that feeling.
I also find reciting daily affirmations “I AM (Seen/Heard/Valued/Loved)” to be helpful!
:: A Note on Therapy :: Sometimes, these triggers can feel really strong and overwhelming for me! Although I can manage my emotions most of the time, I am looking into therapy to enlist additional human support. I’ve come to realize that my loneliness rains down the hardest when I really need someone to talk to, and that is real and perfectly valid.
I understand how important it truly is to have someone in my life who can support me through life’s inevitable challenges, and my intentions to heal old wounds and patterns. Knowing that I have the ability to be proactive take responsibility for meeting my needs in this way-by enlisting support-feels empowering.
- Practice Gratitude within Current Relationships
Gratitude is sew important when dealing Loneliness, and I feel that it’s integral to re-framing its hold in your life. In my Gratitude practice for Loneliness, I take out my mental Rolodex of relationships in my life that have brought value, joy and companionship to any degree—and whom I’ve chosen to stay in touch with. I remind myself of what I do have, instead of focusing on what I don’t have.
Sure, it may be true that I don’t have a close, deep friendship at the moment, but I do live in a city where have access to lots of light-hearted, pleasant connections with people whenever I leave the house, whether its at my local juice bar, or co-working space. That hasn’t always been the case. It’s easy to take for granted these small social engagements when I’m longing to pour my heart out—but I try to remember that these connections are important too—and just as capable of brightening my day as anything else.
I’ve learned that friendship and heartwarming communion can also be found inside these passing connections, like the time I found myself all wound-up in silent, side-splitting laughter for 10 minutes alongside a fellow audience member, during an awkward moment in an Avant-Garde Performance. It was like we were in High School all over again! Or the time I had a deep conversation with a young woman who worked at the juice bar near my house, and she ended up crying her eyes out from the healing energy she had experienced.
Or the time I was sick with Malaria, staying in a German hospital, away from family. I posted a photo of myself from the hospital bed on Instagram, and the owner of an Essential Oil shop I frequented delivered me a homemade lunch the next day. Or the moments that I receive a genuine compliment on my Artwork or Presence, and I really do feel appreciated, seen, and received.
My tribe-or the essence of it- can be found in unlikely places. What if I could rest upon the knowing that connection is always available to me on Earth? The more I open my heart, the more I can welcome those miraculous experiences into my world.
As for my online connections–whenever I feel like my posts on Social Media aren’t being engaged with as fully as I’d like, I go back and remind myself of all the times people have sent me beautiful messages of how deeply they connect with my presence and my work. I remember all of the people I’ve met through social media who turned into real-life companions, and the times when I’ve been supported in some unexpectedly beautiful ways.
Social media may not be a place where I can routinely turn to for my daily dose of authentic human connection, but when it’s used in a balanced way, and as the tool that it is—it can give rise to some pretty awesome friendships, opportunities, and connections. For this reason alone, I choose to stay engaged with these platforms, set boundaries with technology, and find ways to maximize the value I can create.
Oh! And…Mom is still alive! I cherish the years I have with her, and strive to hush my fears about the future and who will or won’t be there. All we have is today. Today is something to celebrate.
- Cultivating Connection
Cultivating Connection is a two-part formula. The first—is to cultivate connection with yourself. For me, this often means identifying habits and patterns in my life that lead me to disconnect from myself, like for example—spending too much time with technology, and ignoring my physical or emotional body. Technology tends to be my personal vice. But in the past, I’ve tried to tap out of uncomfortable emotions through weed, sex, alcohol, empty friendships, and sex.
Whatever your vice is, it’s important to identify your emotional relationship to that habit or element, and work to find and integrate alternatives that are re-connecting. Some of my favorite ways to reconnect include going outside for fresh air, practicing movement and stretching, cooking a good meal, or turning off the computer and just laying down on my yoga mat to breathe.
The Second Part of Cultivating Connection is through connecting with others. This goes hand-in-hand with practicing Gratitude for your current relationships. In acknowledging all the people in my life who have brought value into my life, I can take it a step further and reach out to express my gratitude. Sometimes, it can be a kind message, or inviting someone out for lunch or tea, or mailing them a postcard. One of the most valuable things I’ve realized on this journey is that I have the power and ability to be proactive in connecting with others. I don’t always have to wait to receive the connecting I am wanting others to give—I can prepare myself to receive more love by dishing it out. ❤
Thank yew for reading this heartfelt piece. If you enjoyed this post and found it helpful, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also, if you have anything that you’ve personally found to be helpful on your journey of moving through Loneliness that’s not on this list, please feel free to share in the comments!