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Loneliness by Carolyn Hobdey Author of De-Twat Your Life


how to tackle loneliness image image

Loneliness

I have a very full and busy life. I box, weight-train, dance, sing in a choir, belong to a car club… and that’s before I begin to talk about my portfolio working life.

I have so much going on my best friend says it makes her tired just listening to me. In fact, she says I’ll end up being the fastest woman in the graveyard! The rest of my friends ‘complain’ that they have to get a diary appointment to see me. I’m immensely fortunate that I am surrounded by such amazing, kind people.

That’s why it surprises people when I tell them I am lonely. Profoundly so.

I am not alone – far from it – and I enjoy my own company – I am an introvert who masquerades as an extrovert, so I need down time from people. Being alone is not the problem.

Ironically, I know I am not alone with these feelings.

It’s no coincidence that the core theme of Mental Health Awareness week was Loneliness. We already knew that we have never been more connected, but have never felt so disconnected in modern society – and then the pandemic hit and lockdown separated us even further. Yes, there was technology to help us – as tired as we got of Zoom or Teams, it was a blessing – but the lack of actual human contact took its toll on most people.

Loneliness has become the new pandemic

Now loneliness has become the new pandemic. Like anything mental health related, it has no regard for age, gender or social status. It does not discriminate between those who are physically alone and those who live or work in busy environments. Loneliness is a feeling, a state of mind, not a situation.

It is one for which I have yet to find a solution – and I am someone who prides themselves on thinking and acting their way out of any tough circumstance. With loneliness I don’t have an answer and that, I’ll admit, is hard for someone who is a ‘fixer’ in life.

So I’ve had to find a different approach to tackle my loneliness. The first thing I’ve done is to vocalise it. Saying it out loud has helped considerably. No longer do I excuse it as a bit of a ‘low mood’ or mask it as ‘a bad day’. I’ve named it because I’ve pinpointed exactly the cause of how I feel. I’ll admit, the response I get from people has varied from the dismissive “how can you be lonely?”, through “everyone feels like that” to the “I do too”. All of those responses are acceptable – they are about that person’s lens on the world and not about me.

The recognition of my loneliness has helped me to see how it has the potential to drive my actions and the words I use. Becoming aware of this has lessened my likelihood of making poor decisions that would be aimed at trying to fill the void that loneliness creates. For me, this is about not getting into the wrong relationships (and ‘situationships’) as a way of removing the loneliness – I know from crushing experience that this does not work!

Key life areas to consider

The rest of it, I believe, is about connection or – more accurately – addressing the causes of disconnection in your life. These can be numerous; it’s about understanding and prioritising the ones that will have the greatest impact for you. Below is a selection of key life areas to consider. For each one, assess the level of disconnection you currently feel and the suggestions for how you might improve your situation:

  • Career/Business: is your work meaningful? Even if it’s not complex, is it contributing to a bigger goal that you are excited about? If you’re not feeling fulfilled, examine what would need to change to fix that. Small changes that reconnect you with your work can make it more purposeful.
  • Personal Relationships: are you in the right intimate relationship? This is a tough one, but it needs addressing. Loneliness grows in the wrong relationship, so ask yourself whether you are staying in the relationship out of habit, fear or love, then act accordingly.
  • Spiritual/Emotional Wellbeing: do you know what you stand for? Connecting with your core values and knowing who you are – and also what you won’t tolerate in life – creates a confidence and certainty upon which you can build a better future.
  • Family & Homelife: are you being nurtured at home? We don’t get to choose our family, so frequently they can be a source of stress and unhappiness. Even if you cannot remove yourself from relations, you can choose your response to them and minimise their negative influence.
  • Health & Fitness: are you taking care of yourself? You don’t need to become a gym bunny, but getting out in nature, moving your body – just dancing around your kitchen helps – and fueling your body right all improve wellness. Better still, take up an activity that helps you meet different people who share your interests.

 

Will these magically stop you from being lonely? No. What they do, though, is shore up the other areas of your life – your mental, physical and emotional health – such that the loneliness is minimised. Conscious choices, initiating change and making progress all help to develop a future vision beyond the ‘stuck’ state that loneliness creates. Taking back control is the most powerful antidote to loneliness I’ve found so far.

Author bio:

Carolyn Hobdey is the author of ‘All The Twats I Met Along The Way’ and founder of the Redefining SELFISH community. She lived a life of shame and blame so is now passionate about pioneering new ways of thinking to ensure we live without guilt and regrets. As CEO of MayDey Ltd, Carolyn is a regular speaker and media commentator on issues of toxic relationships, self-esteem, women’s health (including the menopause), selfishness, narcissism and many other imperative, topical women’s issues.

With over 20 years spent as an award-winning Human Resources professional in some of the world’s largest employers, Carolyn earned a seat at the boardroom table leading internationally recognisable brands. En route, she gained a Masters in Lean Operations at Cardiff University where she was the first HR specialist to undertake the course and became the winner of the inaugural Sir Julian Hodge Prize for Logistics, Operations & Manufacturing.

 

Carolyn lives in Harrogate and enjoys boxing, dancing and socialising with friends.

 

De-Twat your Life is out on 22nd May, available online at all eBook retailers and www.carolynhobdey.com

 

 

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