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Loneliness

We are all lonely sometimes.
One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to
arrange our lives to be sure it doesn't happen regularly.

Everyone needs regular doses of attention every day.



DAILY LONELINESS

Daily loneliness comes from ignoring our natural impulses
to make contact with other human beings.
When we ignore these impulses we say something like this to ourselves:
"She'd probably be too busy."
"He might be in a bad mood."
"I'd better not go out. I don't look my best today."

Whenever you catch yourself saying such things you need to know that
your impulse to talk to someone is far more trustable
than this self-talk inside your head.
Even if you decide not to talk to a certain person for some reason,
remember that your impulse to make contact is still there.
So talk to someone else,
spend time with your kids,
or take a deeper interest in someone you've known casually…
but do something with somebody.
Or be lonely.


WEEKLY LONELINESS

Weekly loneliness refers to all the temporary, short term ways we create loneliness in our lives.
These usually have to do with screwed up priorities.
We say:
"I'd like to go to see him BUT..."
"... I need to clean out that closet"
"... this project at work is all I can think about now"
or "... It's too early (or too late, or too sunny or too cold, or……...)."

Weekly loneliness is about screwed up priorities.
We think something is more important than the human contact we crave,
and we are almost always wrong.


LONELINESS AS A LIFE PATTERN

Some people have always been lonely and expect that they always will be.
They think "that's just the way I am" and that they can't change.

When Weeks Turn Into Years:
Many people make loneliness into a way of life
by continually thinking the way the "weekly" people do.
They say, and somehow keep believing, that "the rush will soon be over."
They are always shocked to look back a few years
and find that they've been thinking this way
regularly, habitually, continually.

I'm Just Not Good Enough:
People who were neglected and demeaned in childhood
believe they were destined to be alone.
Some were so neglected by the adults in their house
that they believe they aren't worth our time.
Others were shamed and ridiculed so much that
they assume we will look down on them.
From their point of view, they are doing us a favor
by not making us "bother" with them.
From our point of view, they are robbing us
of their presence in our lives.

People Are Just Too Scary:
People who were abused in childhood
believe they were destined to be hurt by everyone they meet.
From their point of view, they are just protecting themselves
by staying away from us.
From our point of view, they are grossly insulting us
by thinking we are so cruel.

Everyone who has a lonely life pattern thinks that
something is more important than their need for human contact.
And they are wrong 99.9% of the time!
(Only our physical needs - like food, air, and water - are more important.)


REGULATING THE RISK
When you examine all of the reasons we have for avoiding each other
they all come down to what therapists call "fear of intimacy."
Some day I'll write about this fear more directly, but for now
here's what we can do when we feel this fear.

We can regulate the degree of contact we allow.
When we are lonely, we don't need intense human contact.
We just need some human contact. Period.

We can decide whether to look people in the eye,
and how long to keep the eye contact.
We can decide whether to talk to the mailman and the sales clerk,
and how much to say.
We can decide how big of a psychological risk we are willing to take
with each person we meet today.

Once we know we can regulate the amount of contact we have,
we can go get what we want and need:
CONTACT with the rest of the human race.

[Read "How Are You Spending Your Time?"
for more information about regulating this risk.]


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Write To Me, I Want To Hear From You!
Tony Schirtzinger, Therapist (Milwaukee) 

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