Feeling alone, together
(Less than three-minute read)
My first memory of feeling alone was when I was about five years old. We were on vacation in Israel visiting friends and all the kids spoke Hebrew - and I didn't. I remember this story well because later in my life I had the same feeling in a similar situations. Life gave me plenty of oppurtunities, being a new immigrant here, and not knowing the language (https://rivkaklein.com/about-me/). Back then, as a five-year-old, as a consequence, I figured those children must surely be talking about me. (After all, five-year-olds are sure they are the center of the universe, so what else would these kids be talking about, ha ha!) I was convinced they didn't like me and that thought hurt me.
Why we feel alone
Most of us build stories in our heads we take with us and apply to future situations. For me, after experiencing that feeling once, it was easy to find proof in other moments that I was not at all like the other people surrounding me. For me it was fact. "I just don't belong. I am different. And therefore, I am alone."
How to be alone without feeling lonely
As a matter of fact, I can't remember meeting a person who never felt alone. Looking back, most of my patients, young and old, share similar stories with me. People can feel lonely while being part of a big family and people can feel lonely living by themselves. Little people in kindergarten feel lonely when they can't find a friend to play with in the afternoon and bigger people can feel lonely when they are scrolling their Instagram. I have come to realize that when we have that feeling it affirms we are part of humanity. It is part of our make up to check if we belong, if we are safe. And the irony is, as a result, we all feel alone - together.
When you feel lonely
So next time you enter a room and you get that awkward feeling, you can tell yourself: "Feeling alone? That must mean I am a part of humanity". Big chances that most people in the room are feeling that same feeling. And that means you are not so alone, after all.
My to-go-to's when I feel alone
Feeling lonely is a fact of life. It certainly doesn't need to mean something is 'wrong' with us. Very often, the most helpful thing we can do for ourselves is just accept that the feeling is there and move on to our next smallest step. Here are my three trusted tricks to help myself own what I feel and still create a pathway out to having a sense of more belonging.
1.I make myself a delicious cup of tea in a pretty cup. I share a love of tea with the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (who just passed away) , and hearing him speak about drinking tea with Oprah is heartwarming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNiwOI0u9AI . To write just a few sentences about him does not do justice to how much comfort I get from reading his books. This book by him taught me that without loneliness there is no belonging: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20949716-no-mud-no-lotus.
2. I put away my dirty dishes, and shine my sink! FlyLady came to my rescue when I was a young mother without any idea how to organize my house. She created a handy dandy system to prevent overwhelm in your household. Today, tidying up is one of my favorite activities. I get to the opportunity to move. I get to be grateful that I have a house to clean (not everyone is that lucky). Moreover, the way she uses a timer so your cleaning spree has a beginning, a middle and an end is just brilliant. http://www.flylady.net/d/getting-started/flying-lessons/crisis-cleaning/
3.Music has the power to transform my mood, especially when the artist sings from the soul. B.B. King does just that. Now look at that face! And listen to his music. Here is a man who knows how to feel, and feel everything that comes with feeling disappointed in love. As a result, I get goosebumps seeing someone so present with his own emotions, and that helps us realize that even sad things can make us feel connected and less lonely. Watch and listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fk2prKnYnI