Loneliness is an epidemic and research has shown that it can literally make you sick. This is a topic close to my heart professionally as my therapy practice continues to be dotted with clients who don’t feel connected to others and often times not even themselves.
You might be thinking, “This doesn’t apply to me. I have lots of friends! I have work friends, parent friends and hundreds of social media friends on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts!”
That’s great and I imagine you enjoy those friendships in what they have to offer. But do you have friends who know you from the inside and out, you can be authentic with and you are confident they would be there if the sh*t hit the fan? Hmmm…perhaps? But maybe not?
This topic is personally important to me as well as I continue to seek more intimate friendships with people who are not afraid to show me themselves – and show up for me. I also understand that everyone is not comfortable with this level of intimacy and may not even seek it at all. But I also know people can be blocked from each other by insecurities, vulnerabilities, fears of negative perceptions and expectations around how we are supposed to present to the world.
It can be really hard to connect if you have wounds around relationships or trauma, if you have problems trusting people or wonder if anyone even cares. These are real dilemmas that can be overcome with personal work or therapy. You can untangle all of that and learn how to be open to fully showing up for another.
So timely, I was thrilled to see this recent TEDx talk by an old colleague and friend, Shasta Nelson, who has been doing the work of connecting women in friendship in communities all over the country. She has written books about friendships and “friendtimacy” and is the founder of GirlfriendCircles.com, she calls the “gym membership” for better friendships. A number of years ago we engaged socially and once she graciously invited a group of us doing work related to relationships, over to her home in San Francisco. And since then, I have only observed her take professional flight from afar.
As I watched her presentation, it resonated deeply. I found myself thinking, “She is so great. I wish I would have made more effort to stay better connected.”
If the topic of loneliness strikes a cord at all, this will probably speak to you.
Lastly, a study showed that loneliness and social isolation “don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.” People can be socially isolated and not necessarily feel lonely! See this recent article in the New York Times, The Surprising Effects of Loneliness on Health.