If we chose to believe the statistics, either ourselves or someone close to us on our left or right struggles with feeling alone. If we take an honest reflection of our own lives, there are probably times when we felt the sense of being out there all alone facing a particular situation:
- In the workplace, we can feel alone in dealing with a difficult boss, being a part of a project team that just doesn’t function like a team, or when we lost that “critical” account and everyone is turning their eyes on us.
- In school, when the “cool” group leaves us behind or we stayed home instead of attending the big party, we can feel a bit lonely.
- In the home, we can feel alone during times of struggle in a marriage, children whose birth order may align with certain experiences (it is more than just the middle child syndrome), or when adult children start making life choices that conflict with the hopes of parents.
We can all feel lonely from time to time.
There were two times in my adult life when I have walked down the road with a close friend facing a terminal illness. In both experiences, they commented how wonderful it was to have family and friends around to help them in their most difficult situation. However, both of them, from very different backgrounds and walks of life, made the same comment to me that even with all these people around, their journey down that final road is an extremely lonely one.
As we continue to build and strengthen our character, embracing the bright side of loneliness will help each of us reach our full potential throughout the ups and downs of life in our home, the workplace and community.
Like most things in life, we can view challenges as a reminder of our own weaknesses or we can use challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. We make that choice every day and dealing with loneliness is no different. We have a choice. There was some recent published research on the best ways of coping with loneliness and of all the options like group therapy, community intervention, pharmaceutical treatments, etc., the most effective was some individual support to encourage changing our own thoughts and beliefs about ourselves.
As we view these occasions of loneliness as opportunities to grow, here are a few ways to remind us of the bright side of loneliness.
- The first step towards self-improvement. The quiet of loneliness is a helpful place because the first step of any great movement starts with struggles in the present. In the quiet of loneliness, quite often we can see the need for change. Whether it is in our careers to find something purposeful that excites us, or in our educational pursuits to study something that can help us to have a real positive impact, or in our homes to take steps to be a better spouse or parent. Our desire to improve our situation starts with some dissatisfaction of the present. In the cold quiet of loneliness, we often find the spark to ignite positive change in our lives.
- We can make a quick turnaround. In the final assessment, making a shift in mindset is all up to us. There is empowerment and energy that comes with standing and facing our situation alone without the challenges of miscommunication, unmet expectations or half-hearted commitments that sometimes comes with large group efforts. We can move quickly in guiding our own thoughts, decisions, and actions. As we look into the mirror, we need to ask, “What are we waiting for?”
- A helping hand to others. Our journey through loneliness can be a helpful source of encouragement to someone who needs it most. We should be genuine and authentic in sharing our journey with someone else. As Plato once said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” Someone close to us may need to hear our example of overcoming, but they may be too ashamed, embarrassed, or hurt to ask. Sharing our journey with those we care about most should be thought of as a potential source of encouragement to them, not a needed badge of honor for ourselves.
As we chose to see the bright side of loneliness, we can increase our chances of overcoming. We will continue to build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to reach our full potential and have a positive impact on others.