Loneliness & achieving great connection

Loneliness & achieving great connection


Do you feel lonely? Do you know someone
that is? You might be surprised to find out who is lonely and why. Researchers
are sounding the alarm on loneliness calling it a worldwide epidemic, one that
is shortening our lifespan. It’s worse for us than obesity and smoking, putting
us at risk of mental illness, depression, anxiety, addiction, premature death all
from loneliness. One in 5 Canadians are lonely. One in 3 Americans are
lonely. In the United Kingdom it’s so bad they appointed a loneliness minister – that’s an actual position. Oh look at all the lonely people. Where are they? Can you spot someone that’s lonely? How do you know if it’s you? The fact is, any one of
you could be feeling lonely and no one around you would know because loneliness happens on the inside. Lonely people are as likely as anyone to be surrounded by others. They’re no less attractive popular or intelligent. Feeling lonely isn’t the same as being
alone. We all need time to ourselves and we
need time with others. How much you need of each depends on you. Loneliness is how you feel on the inside, whether you’re alone or with others. It feels uneasy, disconnected, like something’s missing. It arises from a gap between what we want and what we have in our relationships and since most of us want more from our relationships, it gives loneliness a lot of opportunities to sneak up on us. Hmm! In a time when we celebrate independence over interdependence, material success over connection, performance-based sex over nourishing sex, when we can build empires from behind our computers, have cybersex and meet our friends online, and most of us have never been taught how to have a truly fulfilling relationship with ourselves, never mind others, no wonder it’s an epidemic. Consciously and unconsciously, we all have a list of wants – relationship wants – that we have built throughout our
entire lives based on experiences, family and modelling. And when those relationship wants aren’t met we feel a gap. This is the gap that loneliness
comes from. It feels uneasy and disconnected, like something’s missing. So, how do we close these loneliness gaps? Well, we do a little W.O.R.K.: Wants, Open, Reach, Kind. The process is simple: know your Wants, be Open to solutions, Reach out, be Kind. With these 4 simple steps I’m going to show you how to close the gap on loneliness. So, here’s our wants, here’s what we have. This gap can look different depending on where we are in our lives. So, let’s work through a few situations. Let’s say you’re in a new city. You don’t know anyone. You’re feeling isolated. You are feeling uneasy, disconnected like something’s missing. You don’t have local people to do things
with, like go see a movie, have lunch, date. I know how it feels. I moved to Vancouver
married, leaving behind my corporate career, friends and family. Shortly after
getting here I was pregnant, going back to school and my marriage was done. Surprise! I didn’t know anybody locally that I could turn to. It felt lonely. So, I
did a little W.O.R.K. – Wants, Open, Reach, Kind. I wanted friends to lean on and laugh
with so I opened up to getting out of my comfort zone, asking for support and
meeting friends in new places. I reached out everywhere I went to connect with
people – saying hello to strangers and building friendships through acts of kindness. Being kind is simple – share a laugh with someone, open a door, smile, give them a compliment, show you care. With a little W.O.R.K. I was able to start
building the friendships I wanted and I got the support I needed. If you find yourself going through this type of loneliness – isolation – then you
just need to do a little W.O.R.K. to close the gap. Now, let’s say you have local people to do things with. You go to movies, you date, you have lunch with people but your life is transitioning and you’re finding you
can’t relate to the people in your life like you used to. Maybe you’re making a
lifestyle change – getting married, divorced, becoming a parent, retiring, losing someone you love – you might feel like the people in your life don’t
understand what you’re going through and they may not. It can feel uneasy, disconnected like something’s missing. Becoming a new mom and an entrepreneur at the same time definitely made me feel this way. People in my life absolutely could not relate. Some flat-out told me I was crazy. It felt lonely, so I did a little W.O.R.K.: Wants, Open, Reach, Kind. I knew that I wanted to meet other new moms that were running businesses successfully so I
reluctantly opened up to the idea of joining a moms group which was a very, very, very scary thing for me. I did not feel like your typical mom nor your
typical entrepreneur. But I got out of my comfort zone anyways. I joined a few
groups. I reached out with kindness and I did connect to other women that I
related to and that could relate to me. And I actually created lasting connections through that experience. I also discovered that there are groups
for absolutely everyone: extremely shy, vegan, grieving, salsa dancing, cuddling and one here in Vancouver actually called “I love my
friends but”. I can tell they’re gonna have a few more
people join up right now. So, if you experience this type of loneliness from transition, all it takes is a little W.O.R.K. to close the gap. Now,
let’s say you have people locally to do things with, you can relate to them, things are going pretty good but you’re feeling uneasy, disconnected like
something’s missing … in a specific relationship – in the quality of that
relationship. You may not even recognize the feeling at first as loneliness. You
may feel like you just want to be more understood, more heard, more seen, more
accepted in this relationship. Maybe you’re hiding a part of yourself or
you’re avoiding a certain conversation with this person. I had a client going
through this in her marriage. She was going through the motions with her
husband each day. It was feeling uneasy, disconnected, like something was missing. The passion and excitement were gone and she wanted it back. So we did a little W.O.R.K.: Wants, Open, Reach, Kind. She wanted to connect with her husband more deeply, open up to him about her desires and
fantasies and explore them together. The problem was – she wasn’t open to having
that discussion with him, to reaching out to him with kindness and expressing her
wants. She was too afraid. Often our wants go unmet because we’re
afraid to express parts of ourselves, to open up and explore the unknown. In fact, studies show that lonely people fear rejection and ridicule more than others so they stay the same rather than opening up to possibilities. If after today, you feel inspired to do a
little W.O.R.K. in your life and you feel stuck in any way, be open to reaching out
and connecting with a professional. Reach out to your community, to people you care
about, to organizations, to groups that share your interests and get the support
you need to finish the W.O.R.K. And if you decide to join that group on Meetups for extremely shy people, do me a favor – actually attend events! Right. Part of being kind to yourself is doing the W.O.R.K. it takes to make the change that you want. In all 3 of the situations I’ve shared with you, loneliness was created by a gap between what the person wanted and what they had in their relationships. In the first one, I was in a new city feeling isolated, wanting friends to lean on and laugh with. In the second one, I was transitioning into becoming an entrepreneur and a mom and I wanted
people I could relate to. In the last one my client wanted a higher quality relationship with her husband where she could openly share her
fantasies and desires with him, connect more deeply and explore things together. Loneliness doesn’t need to be an epidemic. The W.O.R.K. it takes to close the gap on loneliness may take you out of your comfort zone but it has the power to take you into greater connection. Let’s go back for just one moment to my client with the sexy fantasies, the one that was too afraid to have that discussion with her husband. Well, she did the W.O.R.K. She figured out
her wants, she opened up to solutions finally, she reached out and she did it
with kindness. And she had that discussion with her husband. She told him she wanted to be ravished and spanked and a few other things I will leave to
your imaginations. He was surprised and so was she. To her absolute delight, just
sharing her fantasies with him ended up being a huge turn-on for both of them
and led to the connection and renewed passion she wanted. See, in all 3 situations all it took was a little W.O.R.K. to close the gap on loneliness.

12 comments

  1. Lee-Ann Frances Bates is an intimacy expert who struggled with PTSD and loneliness. Her talk taught me why intimacy is crucial and how to cultivate greater connection with myself and others.

  2. It was an honour and a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk about this important topic of Loneliness. What is your biggest takeaway on this topic? How can we together create a more connected world? I’d love to hear your comments and answer any questions you may have.

  3. LeAnn, my biggest takeaway is that I’m not the only one… It seems that with more ways to stay connected, there is real value to one-on-one deep relationships we must nurture. As much as the world changes, it also stays the same. Thank You 🙏🏻.

  4. Thank you Lee-Ann for bringing this important topic to the forefront. You highlighted the difference between being alone and being lonely. This connected world is making us more disconnected. Your ideas and solutions were practical and actionable.

  5. Thank You Lee-Ann for making clear how loneliness can sneak into your life while you're not watching and what we can do about it to help ourselves. Understanding that the gap between what I want and what I have can be the source of my loneliness was my key takeaway.

  6. Loneliness is an epidemic today. With social media, lack of community, Who ever would have guessed that internet connection would have led to such disconnection. Thank you for embracing this subject so beautifully and reminding us what is most important in life, relationships.

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