I think I’ve always known it, but a few weeks ago I was ready to admit to myself, and others, that my biggest fear is being lonely.
My fear is of being in that horrible place where you believe that you’re quite alone in the world and that there’s no-one, in that moment, that you could contact who has the ability to make you feel any different.
The bizarre thing is that I actually enjoy being alone.
Even more than that I actually need it.
You see, I’m an ambivert (mix of extrovert and introvert) so although I love people, I need time every day to be on my own and recharge my energy.
So, to stop this fear from holding me back and getting in the way of me fully experience of life, I decided to explore it, get close to it and, ultimately, face it.
Here’s what I discovered:
It’s temporary. It does not last.
I’ve experienced the dreaded feeling of loneliness before on a number of occasions. I’ve had whole weekends where I haven’t seen or heard from anyone. Not many but definitely a few.
But in every single case, that feeling has lasted for an evening or at most a couple of days, then something has happened that has made it shift.
It’s an illusion. A trick of my mind.
Fortunately, for most people that will be reading this, the truth is that we never truly need to feel lonely. There will always be someone that we can contact.
We may not feel like doing it and being in touch with someone else might not instantly make us feel different but it is highly unlikely that we don’t actually have anyone to connect with.
There are genuinely lonely people out there. People who no longer have any family, who live alone and who, for any number of reasons, have not maintained social connections.
Sorry to get somber but a dog-friend of mine recently realised that the chap that lived upstairs in her building has passed away. The police said that he’d been there for several weeks. He was only in his late 40’s. I suspect he was, quite rightly, very lonely.
But for me, the story that I’ve told myself in the past about fundamentally being lonely is just not true.
I have responsibility for myself.
Other people do not have a duty to make sure I don’t feel lonely.
I have responsibility for maintaining connection with others, for making plans so that I don’t have a whole weekend without anything organized and for entertaining myself if others aren’t around.
Anyone can feel lonely.
People who are single can feel lonely.
People who are in a relationship can feel lonely.
People who live alone can feel lonely.
People with kids can feel lonely.
People who are poor can feel lonely.
People who are rich can feel lonely.
People who have no family can feel lonely.
People who have huge families can feel lonely.
People can feel lonely.
I can handle it.
Every previous experience that I’ve had of loneliness I’ve survived.
I’m come out the other side unscathed. It didn’t feel nice but it certainly didn’t kill or even injure me in any way.
[However, I have found this interesting article which suggests genuine and prolonged loneliness can actually have a negative impact on your health.]
Loneliness is an emotion and I think that many of us live in fear of our emotions. We’ll do anything to avoid experiencing what we perceive to be a negative emotion.
Our emotions can’t actually harm us.
So what have I really got to fear about the possibility that I might feel lonely again at some point in the future?
I now realise, very little.
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ Eleanor Roosevelt
What’s guaranteed is that I will feel lonely again.
But instead of living in fear of when that time comes, I now know that I can take responsibility for what’s in my control, that I’ll be able to sit with that discomfort of the feeling and that, relatively quickly, it will pass.
And, boy, is that liberating!
So, how familiar are you with your biggest fear?
And how could things change for you if, by getting curious, exploring and understanding it, you were able to face that fear head on?
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free. Jim Morrison
Hey there, in case you didn’t know, I’m Hana and I could be your Personal Mindset Coach.
I’m occasionally known to my clients as ‘the lovely stranger’.
I’m here to help you see things from a different perspective, to choose a different lens, to find different ways of thinking, being and doing – so that you can get out of your head and just get on with living a bloody great life.
If you’d like some support exploring this or other fascinating things about you further, then drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can arrange a cuppa some time to find out if we might like each other enough to work together.
If you like what you’ve read and want more then how’s about downloading my free ‘Where’s your head at?’ ebook – get it right here.
Or if you want to join me in a little experiment to feel more grateful for what you already have then come and join my #gratitude365 Facebook Group.
Take care and keep enjoying the journey.