Midlife Musings: Debra Johnstone
Loneliness isn’t talked about anywhere near enough considering how much more common it’s becoming.
Feelings Of Loneliness:
Recently I sent out a survey to my email community and loneliness was one issue that was mentioned. So I decided to hold a group session with my membership to have this vulnerable conversation.
These difficult feelings can trouble us at any stage of life. For me personally, I felt most lonely as my kids became more independent. I was in my early 40’s at the time and I was single.
“Feelings of loneliness apparently trouble many more people in their 20s too.”
For me I missed having someone close by to give me a hug when I needed it. I missed the physical touch and emotional support. At that stage my children were both teenage boys, stiff as a board, easily embarrassed and reluctant to hug. It was a long time ago, but I distinctly remember how I felt.
Feelings of loneliness apparently trouble many more people in their 20s too. And I’ve gathered from the survey I sent out it’s also a big issue for many women in their second half.
Connection Is A Fundamental Need:
A sense of connection is what’s missing when we feel lonely. Connection is a fundamental need so there’s a compulsion to fulfil it. And when it’s not present we feel a void.
What I’ve recently learned though is that there is often shame felt in association with lonely feelings, which makes it even worse. Since realising this I have reflected on what causes both the feelings of shame and loneliness. I believe that both feelings begin with an outward focus.
We feel lonely when we look outwards at what we don’t have. It’s felt when we see groups of women who are close friends or, when our friends have moved on. Single women often feel lonely at the weekends. Or when they see a happy couple walking hand in hand. Many women even struggle with loneliness in a relationship too.
Does Social Media Create More Connection?
In the same way, I believe shame around loneliness begins with looking outwards. We notice how wonderfully connected other people’s lives are and we miss that. Then we take it inwards and make it mean we’re inadequate in some way because we’re lonely. Social media and it’s facade amplifies this even more.
“We’re often led to believe that social media creates more connection.”
We’re often led to believe that social media creates more connection. But it seems that the more connected we become through technology, the more lonely we tend to feel.
That’s my take on it anyway.
Having the courage to open up eases those lonely feelings. I believe it’s the shame that stops many people talking about loneliness. And we really do need to have this conversation. Because when we talk about it, we open up a vulnerable space. And this is where we can feel our most connected with others. Where there is true connection there is no loneliness. So it’s important that you reach out to someone you trust when you feel a need to.
Acknowledging that the feelings are normal eases the shame. We all feel lonely at some point in our lives. It’s essential to acknowledge that we are all dealing with something. What we see on social media is just a facade. Life isn’t a breeze in the park and most people are showing their good side when in public.
Accepting that your lonely feelings are perfectly normal, allows you to open up and have a much-needed conversation. This can enable you to find ways to build more connections in your life.
Looking inward instead of outward creates true connection.
“When we feel connected we are travelling inwards through meditation or other mindfulness practices.”
Andy Pudcombe is the founder of Headspace and a former Buddhist monk. He says that loneliness is eased most when we look inwards. This makes sense to me considering that it’s outward focus that contributes to lonely feelings the most. I have to admit I always feel incredibly connected when meditating or connecting with nature.
Being Alone Is Different To Feeling Lonely:
It’s important to realise the difference between looking inwards through shame and looking inwards through connection. When shame is felt we are often looking at where we believe we are inadequate or don’t belong. When we feel connected we are traveling inwards through meditation or other mindfulness practices. Mediation and mindfulness practices helps you be present with yourself, get connected with your truth and feel connected with all that is.
Being alone is different to feeling lonely.
We can be alone and feel connected through presence. And we can feel lonely in a room full of people. Have the courage to start the conversation. You might think you’re the only one that feels that way. But you will be surprised at how many people will totally get it. They’ll possibly even be grateful to you for opening up.
About the Author:
Deb Johnstone is a Transformational Mindset Coach and a Midlife Transition Mentor. Experiencing midlife transition herself, she wanted work with more meaning and started her coaching practice in 2012. After the death of her father in 2019 and processing her grief, Deb experienced a deep loss of self where her identity felt challenged. It was through this that she felt the calling to work with women in this phase of life. It is now her mission to support women to transition midlife and beyond feeling confident, empowered and free to be your true self and live the life you want and deserve. You can connect with Deb on Facebook through The Empowered MidLife Woman where she posts insights daily, or connect with her through her website.