The Loneliness Pill

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The Loneliness Pill

Really, a Pill for Loneliness?

There truly is research going on for this right now.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/26/pill-for-loneliness-psychology-science-medicine

It is not that this isn’t a major problem. It is a huge issue now and trends show it having grown.

22% of adults in the USA “always or often” feel lonely. “54% said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well.”

You may find these numbers alarming or they may comfort you to know you are not alone in feeling alone.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilhowe/2019/05/03/millennials-and-the-loneliness-epidemic/#c7331c57676a

We can all guess at the causes and trends that have led to this. More importantly though, let’s talk about ways to fix this. Even if you are in the statistical side that is not feeling this way, likely half of the people in your life do want more connection.

This is not about introvert/extrovert although it likely has some influences.

I’m pretty extroverted, consider myself to have lots of friends but still have to consciously work at putting myself in situations where I can be seen, heard and known. There are so many things that influence us not being truly seen very often.

Among the long list:

  • Busy, running-to-the-next-thing lives
  • Constant or frequent input from media sources taking our focus
  • Inner critics that compare us and our lives to the “Instagram” versions we see and therefore want to stay hidden
  • Mealtimes have transitioned to often being individualized events
  • Pressure to succeed, reach high goals, be driven
  • Short social media contributions replacing conversations

We could all keep adding to this list.

Meanwhile, “over the last 30 years pet ownership has gone from 56% to 68%”. Younger people account for 62% of pet ownership.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/richardkestenbaum/2018/11/27/the-biggest-trends-in-the-pet-industry/#1fe59861f099

Why am I bringing that up? I think our desire for pets really shines a light on our legitimate needs - to be loved, to love, for companionship and for physical affection.

Most of us would agree that your relationship with your dog is less complicated than most of your human relationships. Your dog is likely happy to see you every time you come home. Probably doesn’t hold a grudge for long. May never ask you to share your feelings and also will stay with you when you do express deep emotions.

I’m all for pet ownership. However, your pet is not capable of some of the emotional intimacy that I think we all need.

There is incredible power in being known and loved. Increasing these meaningful connections in our lives does not just magically happen.

Those of you, like me, that have moved to new places know that it takes time to even figure out who you might want to be friends with. Then it takes time to feel known - there’s nothing like that friend that has known you for many years, through so many circumstances. However, conscious effort can really speed up that process.

What are some ways to decrease your loneliness (and someone else’s)?

  • Plan a dinner party together - perhaps even cooking together - and talk instead of going to a movie or other form of entertainment
  • Play a conversation game where you can talk about topics that matter
  • Share dreams and hopes
  • Join a club or support group that allows for and nurtures connection and authenticity
  • Have a date night where you check-in meaningfully with your partner
  • Journal and share your journal entry with a friend

Obviously this list could go on and on too. The list is not the hard part - making the time for deeper connection a priority is the hard part.

What will you do in the next few weeks to fill your relationship tank up?

I’m with you - I’ll be setting my own goals here!

Marilyn




Marilyn Orr, CEC, PCC is an executive and leadership coach with Capacity Building Coaching, and training partner on EQ-i 2.0 with MHS. She is also co-owner of new Texas Hill Country eco event center and wellness retreat, The Cedars Ranch.

Marilyn provides professional coaching for executives and business leaders, mentor coaching for coaches, and leadership development support in the form of coaching skills training, soft-skills development, facilitation of key discussions and team coaching. Would you like to work with Marilyn? Reach Out to her today.

6 comments (Add your own)

1. Paul Roy wrote:
Marilyn, This is a wonderful article. Insightful as always. Thank you for shinny the light on this. I can share with you that in my business owwners mastermind groups there is an equal amount of personal worries and issues that come forward as business issues. Entrepreneurs often feel lonley and are looking for support in their decisions both in life and business. Thanks again.

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