Feeling lonely on days of love

Umbrella, rain, alone, solitary, lonely, Romania

Loneliness is a feeling of isolation and disconnection that is cold and miserable, wherever you are. It can be worse at a noisy party than alone in the rain.

In these days running up to Valentine’s Day and its Romanian version Dragobete and Martisor, we are fed images of romance and love, and the whole world seems wrapped in a rosy haze of togetherness. But what about those who don’t feel the love? Who feel disconnected, isolated, and invisible?

Loneliness feels so much worse on these days when you’re supposed to be happy – especially in Romania, where the culture is so family-orientated and open-hearted. The upcoming love-fests can be agonising for those who feel …. Read more…

 

Valentine schmalentine

It’s round the corner – here’s how to have a great day, regardless.

14th February has become yet another commercial touchstone, turning winter into gold for giftshops, restaurants, florists, perfumiers, jewellers, chocolatiers – anyone who can think up a link to romance, sex, hearts and flowers, Cupid, Eros and the great search for love. Valentine’s Day… hmph.

What about those of us who won’t get a card or a bunch of roses? Who won’t get wined and dined, or be given gifts?

What about those of us who will get a card and maybe a gift and maybe go out to eat somewhere expensive… but only because we sort of have to? Because we’d be in the doodoo if we didn’t?

Next to Christmas and birthdays, Valentine’s Day is the day most likely to make us feel lonely. If we’re already lonely, it can make us feel worse than usual.

But don’t just sit there and let Cupid shoot poisoned arrows at you.

You have options! (read more…)

 

Blog for mental health – no more stigma

mental health, blog for mental health, mental illness, depression, loneliness, isolation, alientation, lonely feelings, full of life, dying of loneliness, bored and lonely, stuck, friendship, connection, well, ill, suicide, suicidal, feelings, emotionsI pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project.  I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others.  By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health.  I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

After five family bereavements in 14 months, I had a melt-down in 2008 which had a serious impact on my business, on friendships and work relationships, on my finances and my whole way of life. It resulted in a huge change – leaving the country and starting a very different life in Europe. The peace and clarity of the mountains gave me back the ability to think, but it took years to reach the point of being able to go back into the ‘real’ world. For many reasons, I wouldn’t turn the clock back as, despite the bad bits, I have learned so much and found so much good in the process. I would only wish to undo the damage I unwillingly caused to others.

This blog is a major route to putting something back, to sharing what I’ve learned and, maybe, giving people some new options to getting out of deep ruts.

Two good ones to read:

Knocked over by a feather

A canvas of the minds

Attention and intention

Full of life, banish loneliness, be a good listener

Is this the face of a good listener? Would you like to have her as a friend to talk to?

One crucial thing to understand is the way we connect with others. It’s not enough to be in the same place as other people. You can be in a crowded room, a busy station, a park full of people, even in bed with your spouse… and still feel lonely. In fact, it can feel much worse – to be close to others but be shut out, shut off from them, invisible. Sometimes you feel that even if you yelled and screamed, no-one would hear you.

Sometimes even if you’re in the middle of a conversation, you can feel that your companion has drifted off, distracted by something else or just daydreaming. They’re not listening to you any more, and when you prod them, they are startled as they pull their attention back to you.

“Sorry, I was miles away…”

Not very flattering, is it? Is what you were saying so boring?

Who knows what was going on in their head. Maybe they were terribly worried and couldn’t concentrate. Maybe they saw something fascinating over your shoulder. Maybe they’re exhausted after a hellish day. Maybe they’re shallow and selfish and need a slap…

Ignore that last bit – it’s how it makes us feel but it’s almost certainly not fair.

We’ve all had it happen to us… but have you ever been guilty of it? Not listening, not keeping your attention focused on what someone is telling you?

Being a good listener is a great way to connect: here are seven points of a listener.

banish loneliness, be full of life

Are they listening? Are they people you’d want as friends for their kindness and empathy?

1. Keep eye contact as much as possible; keep your eyes on the speaker’s face, at least.

2. Listen with all your senses – more is said with body language and tone of voice than with words.

3. Don’t interrupt. Don’t argue. Ask questions to get clarity, not to interrogate.

4. Stay close but not too close – don’t invade the speaker’s personal space unless invited.

5. Let your body show your interest; lean forward just a little, don’t fidget, but nod your head to indicate you hear them and understand.

6. Listen with empathy. Don’t criticise, and don’t judge – not even in your head.

7. Be kind. The speaker will feel your kind intention.

Do you know how it feels to have a good listener to talk to? 

Are you a good listener?

 

A big hug, a light touch

The best medicine

Hugs are supposed to be great. The best hugs are great. But are we too scared to give each other proper, heartfelt hugs?

How do you like yours?

I like huggers who hug gently but completely. A hug of kindness, from top to toe, long enough for the kindness to sink in. A gift of a hug, that gives energy and kindness and doesn’t take. A hug that doesn’t hurt or strangle. A hug that leaves me tingling with life. A hug I want to repeat…

A hug should be two-way, that gives and receives at the same time.

But a return hug should be received, not taken. Do you get the difference? Receiving the love or kindness from your hugger is allowing them to give; taking  from your hugger is a bit like a vampire sucking the life out of a victim.

‘Give me a hug’ is the cry of a needy person. “Let me give you a hug” is the offer of a generous soul.

Heartfelt hugs are life-affirming, kind and loving

The best hugs feel safe and warm, gentle but firm, kind, giving, open, no-strings, head to toe, wholehearted and heart-felt. The best hugs are  life-affirming, reviving, reassuring, generous, sharing, unconditional kindness.

Who’s your favourite hugger?

Who can you hug right now?

Touched

Such a simple remedy for loneliness

Emma, young woman who trained in massage with me, went to an old people’s home to do some simple massage with the residents. She told us that she was massaging an elderly woman’s hands and suddenly the old lady’s eyes filled with tears. Emma asked her what was wrong, and the reply was: “This is the first time I’ve been touched since my husband died, 20 years ago.”

She discounted the touch of her professional carers because the touch was impersonal and a matter of logistics. Emma’s simple hand massage was intensely personal, with a focused, kind intention behind the touch. The old lady instinctively knew the difference even if she couldn’t explain it.

Two decades without simple, kindly touch. Think about it.

How easy to remedy.

A touching remedy for the lonely

It’s clear enough that the sense of touch is important for babies – lots of people learn baby massage, and the sling is back in fashion so that infants are carried next to their parent’s body rather than at arm’s length in a pushchair.

But don’t we grow out of the need for touch?

Well… have you?

Children get as much touch as they like from their pets

Kittens never reject affection and are perfect for touch-deprived humans

I haven’t. I learned as a small child not to expect touch, and then to do without it. I had pets instead – dogs and cats, who adored being stroked and patted and weren’t ashamed to ask for strokes. Am I alone in relying on pets for innocent physical affection? Did anyone else experience this? Is this why Anglo-Saxons love their pets so much?

[Oh.. I’ve just remembered that psychologists in the 1960s – Eric Berne and then Thomas Harris – used the word ‘stroke’ to mean the emotional equivalent of a physical stroke: a compliment, praise, an endorsement, an award. Something that makes you want to purr. A feel-good moment. Imagine a cat stretching and purring under a stroking human hand…]

Touch is the first sense to develop in the human foetus. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and develops from the same stem cells as the brain. Frequent pleasurable touch for infants results in positive change in brain tissue, while chronic touch deprivation or trauma results in measurable brain damage. Lots of scientific studies have shown the critical importance of good touch to the developing infant and the growing child. It remains vital – touch-deprived adults may turn to food, alcohol or drugs to make up for the lack of physical contact, or adopt behaviours from promiscuous sex to shop lifting.

Think about your skin. There’s a lot of it, and it’s far more than a barrier between you and the outside world. it’s in organ, like your heart or your lungs, and in it are thousands of nerve endings which pick up a mass of information that help us operate and survive, give us pain or pleasure, and a whole spectrum of subtle emotions and reactions that we don’t consciously notice.

Think of losing all that information because you don’t get touched. For the elderly, who are the focus of current campaigns, loneliness is often the result of losing a spouse, family moving away, friends becoming housebound or dying… that’s bad enough and can be devastating. But imagine how appalling it must be to live your whole life, from childhood onwards, feeling out of touch, not connected, lost and alienated in a crowded world, because you didn’t get the touch your body and brain needed in your early years.

What about young adults who leave home to go to university or to a job in another city; dealing with a whole new world with only strangers around you, with none of the contact and support of home and friends…

And so on through life. Being deprived of touch is one of the key causes of loneliness, and getting touch is one of the key remedies.

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