When you walk through a storm
Keep your chin up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone
-Rogers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music
You may feel confident about most things, but there is one particular emotion that consistently makes you feel vulnerable. It emerges around the holidays. When you go to a party, no one knows you, no one recognizes you, no one even seems to care. You can easily come to feel that you are the invisible man or woman. You know the ghost all wrapped up in Band-Aids? When he unravels them, there is nothing there. You even feel like the shade that plunges into a pool without leaving a ripple.
You can feel equally lonely when totally surrounded by people or when totally alone. Loneliness emerges when you cannot connect with others, with yourself or with our Source. If someone you love suddenly appears, the loneliness can vanish for hours, or even days. Yet often it lurks in the background to pull you down when you least expect it. Taken to an extreme, this loneliness could drive you to make an early end of your life.
Loneliness is a false interpretation of your experience. Correct your interpretation, and you change your experience. If you are like most of us, you live by appearances. If people ignore you, it is because they really don’t like you. You’re unlovable. You don’t have what it takes. All the while, people ignore you simply because they are way too distracted by their own problems. They can’t be there for you, because they aren’t even there for themselves.
Loneliness is a false interpretation of your experience. #loneliness #lonely #feelinglonely
I grew up in a broken family. Fairly early on, I had to choose between my parents, something no child should ever have to suffer. In choosing one, I had to reject the other. Guilt emerged and lingered for years. I had to force myself out of a shell. It was difficult for me as a teenager to look an attractive young lady in the eyes. Not the athletic type, I was nervous and shy, long before nerds were in and began raking in billions of dollars!
For various reasons, I have spent most of my life outside of, rather than inside of, primary relationships. This is even when I had a significant other as a close friend. In this respect, I am not alone. In the U.S., 50% of marriages end in divorce. This often leads to serial monogamy, where you marry one partner after another looking for the right one.
Today, I spend my free time doing very different things from what I do to earn a living. Sometimes I am popular during the week, only to plunge into anonymity over the weekend. Even more to the point, I like to read and enjoy the finer things in life. I tend to be a bit choosy with my friends, and thus spend much of my time all by myself.
Over the years, I’ve found that you don’t always have to be with people who know you well. Stop and think about this: At one time, everyone you now know was once a total stranger, even your parents, family and neighbors. Yet, somehow you became acquainted with a good number of people. Chances are, you now rank them, considering some more important than others.
Yet, is this true? You are inherently related to all seven billion of us on Planet Earth by virtue of your being human. We are the same species, even if we don’t know each other’s language. To function in a complex, global society, you may take most of us for granted. However, this is a choice.
Once you choose differently, and reinterpret your experience, you will have different results.
Most people are decent human beings, whatever their nationality, race, gender or religion. Politicians and journalists like to separate us and fuel distrust. However, firsthand experience can change all that. Who comes to help you when your car breaks down? Watch how people come together after any “Act of God,” such as a minor earthquake. Notice how people open up when an elevator stops halfway between two floors and people are confined for any length of time.
Of course, it is deeply distressing to go to a dance and have no one invite you to join him, or have every lady consistently turn you down. You can feel like a pariah, an outcaste. No matter what you tell yourself, you can hardly avoid temporarily feeling something is deeply wrong with you. You are a freak! You want to cry, but it is not very cool to cry in public. So you put on a silly grin, and run home to bury yourself in shame.
If you ever do a transformational seminar or workshop, such as the Landmark Forum, you will meet dozens of other people where you have to look them in the eyes, shake hands and say something as awkward as it may feel.
You begin to see that not a single participant has it all together. I often review these events and am amused to see that the participants who always go to the microphone to complain learn the most. They perfectly illustrate the principles the trainer wanted us to impart.
Years ago, Werner Erhard, who created both the est training, and the Landmark Forum, put it this way: It’s OK NOT to be OK. At the core of it, most of us feel deep down inside that there is something wrong with us, that we’re basically not OK. You might call it “the sin nature.” This is based upon a mind that relentlessly compares and contrasts, that hardly ever gives us a break. The Truth is, of course, that all such separation is an illusion. These consciously constructed social contexts get you to witness this firsthand. In the process, you are set free.
You may feel powerless to snap out of loneliness, because you are painfully shy. Did you know that 40% of the American public is shy? I am a social introvert who learned to thoroughly engage people. For a living, I contact total strangers to engage them in strategic partnerships with my clients. This came after years of work, starting with learning to look a pretty young lady in the eyes, even when I was blushing and my voice cracked. I learned to keep on going.
Yet you don’t need to be a star for people to open their hearts to you. You just need to tell the truth to them. “I would really like to talk with you, but I don’t know what to say. I’m the shy type.” You will be stunned at how many people will open their hearts to make you feel comfortable. In all likelihood, they have felt the same way more than once.
If you just connect with your eyes and smile, often you need do nothing else. From there, you simply welcome someone with “Hi, there.” We all feel awkward on first acquaintance. Yet there is something totally charming about this. You soon learn that if you don’t look her in the eye, smile and say “Hi,” you may never see her again. You quickly realize that speaking up is a small price for you to pay.
As you go within, you may discover divine love, a love that is totally unconditional. It is limitless and always on. You access this through a form of God with which you most resonate. It can be any religious tradition. Very often, it takes the form of the Gospel. Unfortunately, the Gospel has been hijacked by institutionalized Christianity. While it was originally meant for the whole world, it got sidelined by the self-appointed guardians of the faith who presumed they could tack on a whole lot of conditions to it.
The fundamental narrative is this. God became human that humanity might become divine. In the process, God experienced everything we experience, including the acute pain of loneliness. God couldn’t stand to see people suffer. So He found a way to make His love available to anyone under any circumstances. All you need do is invoke His presence. Nothing more. As God’s love fills you to overflowing, you find that you, in turn, can love everyone with that very same love.
By invoking the Presence of God in whatever way works for you, you will feel yourself loved to a degree that far surpasses that of any human being, even your mother. You will begin to truly love yourself. As you start loving yourself, you automatically start being your own best friend, and equally wanting everyone around you to succeed.
The simplest and best way to connect with other people is to literally touch them. Touch them lightly on a non-private part of their body for just a single instant. You may wind up shaking their hands or even hugging them. They can be total strangers. However, by the time they hug you, you won’t ever see them that way again.
When you open up to people, drop your pretense and become transparent, they begin to do so for you. When you make them feel like the most important person in the whole wide world, they will be inclined to do so for you, as well. As a cab driver once advised me about women, even gorgeous ones, “If you like them, if you truly like them, they will like you.”
Next time you feel lonely, remember that you have a choice. You are interpreting your experience in a limited way. Recognize that you are intimately related to whomever crosses your path. You are their mirror, and they are yours.
Hold your head up high and walk on through the dark. Like the Sound of Music says, you will never, ever walk alone!