"I can feel lonely in a room surrounded by 200 people that 'love' me."
As the holidays quickly approach us (hopefully all your shopping is done :-)), I have been reflecting on 2018 - the first full year that I have lived alone. For the last 49 years, I have lived with someone (and in the the super fun college days, many fraternity brothers at once...). 2018 marked the first full year where there was no one to share space with, wake up to, spend most of my day with or fight over who gets control of the TV remote.
2018 marked the first time I was ever alone...but as I came to find out, not the first time I was lonely.
The quote at the beginning of this blog was from a friend and client who fortunately and unfortunately is a very successful and prominent business owner. During one of our coaching sessions a while back, he made that statement in reference to sitting in one of the quarterly business reviews that he and his leadership team conduct and bring in 200 of their employees to experience. His reflection and his statement were so profound and moving that I remember tearing up in a wave of compassion for him and his family for the emotional emptiness he felt with all those people around him.
To be able to have everything money and success can bring, to have the admiration and desire of an entire society and culture wishing they had your success and status and to have all the power and prestige you would ever need at your fingertips - only to feel completely lonely in a sea of people that thank you for what you have done for them on a daily basis.
That's lonely. And it sucks.
I have had similar feelings over the last year and have come to discover the difference between being 'alone' and feeling 'lonely'. 'Alone' is when you are by yourself and without anyone else's company in a physical sense. 'Lonely' is a feeling you have when you feel alone emotionally. Some may experience this in ways where we don't feel loved, liked, appreciated, wanted, needed, important, significant etc. Some may experience this in ways where we don't feel understood, heard or accepted - or a combination of any or all of these. However we experience loneliness, at the core of it is an emotional feeling that we are by ourselves and missing someone or something, regardless of who or what is around us.
Over the last year, even when surrounded by significant others, partners, clients, friends and family that I know love me and have my best interests in mind at all times, at times I still felt what our friend and client felt with 200 of his employees surrounding him - lonely.
Fortunately, through experiencing and processing this painful feeling over many months, I was able to understand it and overcome it's impact on my life. Simply put, I realized that the source of my loneliness was my focus - my focus on what I didn't have and my lack of focus on what I did have. When I decided to open my eyes, ears and mind, I opened a world of abundance - and only then could I see, hear, touch and feel all the people I do have in my life. When I decided to focus on who and what is in front of me instead of who or what is not in front of me, I came to realize just how much I do have.
And after this realization, interestingly, what I found that was the key to never feeling lonely again - was seeing, hearing and feeling myself - that soul, body and mind that is with me all the time. Wow. This guy is here 24/7/365...and not going anywhere. Knowing and embracing this, I quickly realized it is simply impossible to be lonely when we choose to be grateful and appreciative of ourselves.
Though I love a life that supports and allows so many others to be around much of the time, I now look forward to those times in the day when I can be alone - just with me - learning about, appreciating and being grateful for that 1 person that is always with me - and choosing to love that person no matter what. After all, I might as well, I'm stuck with him, right?!
So by being alone and lonely, we have a wonderful opportunity to learn and experience self-love and self-compassion and self-acceptance. And when we experience and embrace these gifts, we can then never feel lonely again....
Keep Goin! And enjoy being alone while falling in love with who you are.