I’ve had the privilege of working with many different types of people-addicts, veterans, couples, singles and even a few kids. Although they each had individual issues, they each grappled, in some way, with loneliness.
At it’s core, loneliness is about a lack of connection. That connection could have been broken by the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship. Another type of loneliness can occur when a person makes a whole change of environment. Perhaps you moved to a new state for a job or fresh start. Making new friends can take time and that might lead to some lonely days. Loneliness can be weakened or strengthened depending on one’s perspective. Let’s focus on three types of loneliness and take a look at strategies to overcome these types of loneliness.
Loneliness in relationships:
Most of my work is with couples. Couples can lead a lonely existence in a relationship when they don’t feel listened to. Being lonely in a relationship seems odd because we’re with somebody. We share space with that person. But if key ingredients are missing then the feelings of loneliness can and most likely will occur. Communication is a main “relationship” ingredient and if BOTH sides of the couple aren’t willing to work on this skills, that loneliness of not being heard and listened to can lead a spouse or significant other to another person or the end of the relationship.
Typically after an initial session, I email all my couples worksheets on reflective listening skills and creating fair fighting rules in handling disagreements. Bad listening is a learned behavior that perhaps we learned from our parents. We can learn new behaviors to improve our listening abilities. Having fair fighting rules, if you use them, can move a couple from an adversarial relationship (Me, you, win, lose) to learning to fight the problem together and not against each other. These are building blocks in becoming less lonely in a relationship and more connected.
Loneliness in singleness:
Are you single? Do you struggle with loneliness? Maybe not every day, but sometimes? I can relate. I didn’t get married until I was 41 years old. I spent most of my young adult life in single groups and dating sites on the internet hoping to find that one connection that would cure my feeling lonely. When I was 30, I watched a lot of friends get married. I kept asking God when was it going to be my turn to start a family. I wasn’t a hunk, but I’ve always been a nice guy. “Nice guys finish last.“ I felt like that and my loneliness led me to have some incredible pity parties. Me, myself and I showed up and all three of us never made the party better. It wasn’t until I started working on myself and focusing on personal growth areas that I began to change and that brought about a different perspective shift.
My focus took a change to where it wasn’t all about me. My identity wasn’t rooted in desperation to be with someone any more. I found my security as a single person was rooted in my faith and having healthy friendships. I could be independent and happy and still be single. One day I was listening to a guest speaker at my church and he had experienced incredible loss in his life. He had lost his whole family in a massive flash flooding accident? He was the only one that survived. Google: Robert Rogers family and learned how he coped; had appeared on many of the morning talk shows and people asked him how he could go on and survive such a tragic event. He said it was the peace of God that was getting him through it and quoted this verse that changed my life:
Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Right then the light bulb turned on in my brain. I wanted that peace in my love life. So, at 38 years old, this scripture set me on a new path. I trusted all of my hopes, my dreams and my expectations of being with someone over to God’s care. I had to be at peace whether I married someday or never dated again. What about you? If you’re single, how have you coped with feeling lonely in your singleness? Moping about it and having endless pity parties won’t help. Remember, if you do nothing, nothing changes. Focus on others. Volunteer at your church or a community group. Find social groups that align to your interests and hobbies so you can meet other people. If you need more ideas, reach out to me. I can help because I’ve been there. I would love to help you take the first few steps of finding happiness in being single.
Loneliness in children:
One little documentary was released this summer that captivated the nation if not the world. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is about Fred Rogers and his passion for making connections. He connected with kids like almost nobody else. He showed them that no matter who they were, they had value. They mattered, and they are loved. He also listened to the children he interacted with. He was genuinely interested in what they had to say. That told them that they had a voice. Most of us have seen Mr. Rogers Neighborhood on PBS when we were younger. The message of Mr. Rogers needs to be repeated over and over. Because many of today’s kids feel like they don’t have a voice except on social media and sometimes that’s a scary place to be. Research continues to show that kids and teens that are constantly on social media and not interacting in person are more prone to loneliness and self esteem issues.
The ills of society have left our kids feeling lonely. Divorce has caused kids pain and hurt and even damaged their thoughts. Often, their hopes are drowned out by the roar of their parent’s anger. Some children become pawns in a game of power play that parents create to get their kids to side with them.
What can we do about this growing epidemic?? Here are a couple of suggestions.
- Interact with your children. Make time to take them on parent-child dates. Trips in the car are valuable for conversation. Listen to them. Get to know you kids interests, hopes and fears. Find out who their friends are and get to know their parents. Have fun with your kids and let them know it’s ok to have feelings, good and bad.
- Be consistent in your own behavior. Follow through with what you say you will do. Model appropriate behavior around your children. Your kids are watching you and they look to you for moral, emotional, structure, and spiritual guidance. If you’re not providing these, the child that gets older can become more susceptible to listening to those voices and examples that do not have their best interests in mind.
Lastly if a child is lonely, we have an incredible opportunity to help them form healthy connections? Do they have someone they can talk to and spend time with like a teacher, friend, relative, mentor or parent? We all need healthy connections and children are not different. This article has just scratched the surface to what some face. Counselors at Armstrong Family Counseling have a wealth of experience to help adults and children cope with loneliness.
Connecting with others is a big way to overcome the stigma of loneliness. If you are lonely and need to talk, contact us today.
Where Do We Begin? Staying Together After an Affair
Should I stay, or should I leave? After an affair, an injured partner faces this question. It’s never easy, and there is no one size fits all solution.
Experiencing the infidelity of a partner can be so painful. It can make you believe you are losing your mind, and your life, as you have known it. Infidelity creates a sudden upheaval in everything you believed about your spouse, about yourself, and about your future. Several couples are unable to remain intact, and will move to end the relationship. But what if you aren’t yet sure, or want a different outcome?
Many areas in your relationship will need to be addressed, and it can be difficult to know where to start. If you are choosing to stay in your relationship, here are a few suggestions to help you and your partner repair, rebuild and reconnect.
Staying in a relationship, following an affair, requires addressing all of the changes that have occurred because of it. Changes, especially those we didn’t personally want or choose, can come with very strong negative feelings. Its important these feelings are acknowledged, and by both partners.
There is usually no shortage of hurt and anger, and you may find conflict has become your main method of communicating. Hurt can manifest itself in several ways. Anger tends to be one that is most commonly used, however, anger rarely comes alone.
Betrayed, sad, lost, scared, alone, confused, resentful, and vulnerable are just a few likely to surface. Each relationship is unique, however, and so are the feelings that come with it. Identify the feelings, as well as the underlying fears, insecurities, and loss the affair has created. This helps focus your communication and creates a deeper understanding of the hurt and anger.
Repair focuses on understanding our individual reaction to the affair, as well as recognizing that trust and friendship have now been called into question. To address the loss of trust and friendship, it’s crucial to actively practice being a better friend. This may seem obvious, but can often be overlooked in our everyday routine.
Learn what circumstances currently trigger negative feelings and/or conflict. Take action to correct these situations, and practice generating positive feelings instead. Be mindful of your daily exchanges and build an atmosphere of comfort, kindness and consideration. This creates a more neutral environment, and a neutral environment naturally reduces extra day-to-day conflict. I’m sure you will agree that any way you can reduce conflict, will be of great benefit to you.
Consider actions such listening without interruption. It sounds simple, but isn’t always so easy. You can also defuse your environment by helping out with routines and daily activities, being considerate in your living space, giving genuine compliments, paying attention, and checking in with your partner about how they are doing. If you aren’t already taking these actions, then this is a great opportunity to demonstrate care for your partner. With repetition and consistency, over time you share connections, and develop a sense of security. This helps to repair the trust, and sets the course for you to rebuild your friendship.
The level of friendship between partners is a significant indicator for success in a relationship. The stronger your friendship connection, the higher your relationship success.
When your relationship began, together you created a vision of hopes, dreams and goals you planned to work towards. This includes houses, children, careers, vacations, lifestyle goals, and the timeline for achieving them. An affair is not typically part of this vision, and can lead the injured partner to question: Have we really been working toward the same goal all along?
This question can lead to uncertainty about your future, and in need of confirmation about what the future holds. Address this uncertainty by communicating your intent to stay together, as frequently as needed. Be honest and clear about what you want going forward, and encourage your spouse to do the same.
Communicate your boundaries and expectations going forward. As you make these adjustments, you establish a clear vision of the future while also reassuring your partner of your intent to stay together. You are mending a friendship. By consistently addressing the uncertainty you demonstrate caring for your partner. By sharing and re-negotiating expectations and goals, you establish a plan for being together. Both are needed to encourage your friend to remain your friend.
As we have all heard, time heals. But while you allow time to work, this is the time to take active steps to build more closeness with your partner. Even if you and your partner are managing to get along, life can manage to shake things up at any time.
Acknowledge Landmines. Reminders of the affair, or that affairs exist, are similar to landmines. You never know when or where they may be hiding, but when you find them they blow up your whole day, week or even longer. A song on the radio, a scene in a movie or TV show. Maybe a news article, mention of a city, or specific location connected to the infidelity. These and many more not only can, but unavoidably will also pop up.
When landmines show up the emotional response can feel just as strong?as the day the affair was discovered.? These experiences are, to say?the least, uncomfortable, and the straying partner may feel that?talking about them would be poking the emotional bear.
You or your partner may want to avoid, minimize, or even ignore them, but don’t. As awkward or uncomfortable as these situations may be, they are actually opportunities for partners to share and understand the ongoing impact of the infidelity, and then work through the hurt together. Emphasis on together.
The injured partner will be faced with landmines on sometimes a daily basis. Dealing with them alone can make your partner feel alone, not understood, and uncared for. These feelings will no doubt defeat your goal of coming closer together, and will only create further distance between you. Working through these feelings together allows you the opportunity to heal together rather than separate and alone. It can prove comforting when your partner is considerate of this, and is willing to consistently demonstrate caring and support.
Working together through an affair takes time and a great deal of patience. The challenge of addressing the damage when our hurt and defensiveness is high can be overwhelming, and at times seem impossible to overcome. Finding ways to reconnect with your partner can be difficult or at times may not be well received.
Practice patience, with yourself and with your partner. Unfortunately there is no timeline or rule book for exactly how you will find your way back to each other. At times you may want to speed up the process, only to find a new bump in the road. Rest assured this is truly a situation where persistence and consistency pay off. Stick with it, and you can get the results you are looking for.
If you have dealt with this or are dealing with this, reach out to me. I can help you. I specialize in relationships. Don’t wait another day to start healing!
Do You Have A Vision?
To know?where you are going, first?you need to?know who you are. Then, you need to?have a reason?to reach your destination.?Why?do you want to make it there??Why?is it important to you?
Dr. Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says that you must?begin with the end in mind.?Focus with me?as his words?guide?your thoughts:
?In your mind?s eye,?see yourself?going to the funeral of a loved one.?Picture yourself?driving to the funeral parlor or chapel, parking the car, and getting out.?As you walk inside the building, you notice the flowers, the soft organ music.?You see?the?faces of friends and family?you pass along the way.?You feel?the shared?sorrow?of losing, the?joy?of having known that radiates from the hearts of the people there.
?As you walk?down in front of the room?and look inside the casket,?you?suddenly?come face to face?with yourself.?This is your funeral?three years from today. All these?people have come?to honor you,?to?express feelings?of love and appreciation?for your life.
‘As you take a seat?and wait for the services to begin,?you look?at the program in your hand. There are to be four speakers.?The first?is from your family, immediate and extended-?children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents?who have come from all over the country to attend.?The second?is one of your friends,?someone who can give a sense of what you were as a person.?The third?speaker is from your work or profession.?The fourth?is from your church?or some community organization where you?ve been involved in service.
?Now think deeply.?What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life?What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother would you like their words to reflect? What kind of son, or daughter, or cousin??What kind of friend??What kind of working associate?
?What character would you like them to have seen in you??What contributions, what achievements would you want them to remember? Look carefully at the people around you.?What difference would you have liked to have made?in their lives??
Think about those answers.?Take a minute to truly reflect. I would even suggest writing your answers down on a piece of paper.
Who you would ?have them remember you as?or what you would have them remember you for?is?your personal definition of success!
Using this exercise, I’ve defined my own roles in my life and this perspective has helped me to create a personal mission statement.?You must know who you are?and what you need to do to become the best version of yourself.?Doing this will be your?driving force?to get to your ultimate destination. This is called seeking clarity.
There is?great power?in?beginning with the end in mind.?As I strive to become the man I envision myself becoming, I have a?deeper satisfaction?in life. I have a stronger conviction?to accomplish my goals.?I have a purpose. I also have a reason to challenge myself by setting goals to develop into the best version of myself.
To?truly?know where you are going,?to have a clear vision?of where you are headed;?you must first have a clear picture of?who you are.
As your life coach, I can help you develop your vision, help you set goals to achieve your vision, and inspire you to grow into the person it will take to make your vision a reality! Contact me today for a free consultation.