This isn’t a highly talked about issue -yet – although I know there’s so many people that think like this – that feel like this. First off, know you aren’t alone in this. There’s many, many, many others who feel and experience this. If this is you, then today, this article is for you.
Mother Teresa said that,
“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”
― Mother Teresa
You feel alone. There isn’t anyone that you’d call a “real” friend or anyone that you “connect” with. You don’t feel like you belong. It’s lonely not being close to anyone really. There’s this uncomfortable feeling that accompanies loneliness…shame maybe? Because it’s not a topic that you can just bring up in chit chat like you could if you had a minor cold. When someone asks, “How are you doing?” you can’t really say, “I’m lonely and friendless.” or you can, but not too many people take that route. It seems socially awkward and others don’t generally know how to respond to that so most people don’t say anything at all and the loneliness grows.
It’s not a fun place. I know. I’ve been there too. But there is HOPE and LOVE and FRIENDSHIP available to you RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND. You don’t need to spend another moment in loneliness anymore – IF YOU DON’T WANT TO. You’re probably asking, “Why would anyone want to???” but like all feelings – it’s a choice (even though you don’t realize it yet) and sometimes, you may choose to feel alone and that’s okay too.
We all have CIRCUMSTANCES* in life (things beyond our control – ex: the actions and thoughts of others) in life that generate THOUGHTS in our heads. Those thoughts are going to create how we FEEL.
I am lonely – is just a thought. Feeling Lonely – is just a feeling (stemmed from thoughts). It doesn’t feel like a thought. It feels factual. You want to argue and say, “but I can prove it!” and your brain will find evidence to back up your thoughts.
It remembers the time that you moved to a new area or got a new job and no one there seemed to like you or invite you to things. It brings up the time that you tried to have a girls night and everyone seemed to connect and be laughing – except you. It remembers all those times you reached out to others and the connection wasn’t reciprocated.
That’s your brain doing what it’s supposed to. You gave it a direction and it’ll find proof that it’s true. But it is still just a thought. Which is hopeful and really good news because THOUGHTS can be changed when we’re ready.
What are some thoughts you’re having? Let’s try the first one: I don’t have any friends. What does that mean? What is a friend? What makes a person a friend?
A person becomes your friend WHEN YOU BELIEVE they are your friend*. That’s it. There isn’t a certain handshake, a specific amount of days that are required, there isn’t a general manual that tells us “At this point, you are now friends”. A person becomes a friend – when YOU have that thought that says, “she’s my friend”. You decide! And the best news, it doesn’t even have to be reciprocated for it to be true. We don’t ask our friends, “Do you want to be my friend?” then they ask, “Do you want to be my friend?” – maybe in grade school? But as an adult, it’s just an unspoken belief that this person is my friend.
Now, what MAKES a friend is different and unique to each person. One person can think, “Well, they’re my friend when they ____________ (remember to call me or remember my birthday)”. Or “I consider them my friend if they _____________ (ask about my day).” What is it to you? What makes a friend in your book?
Did you use any of the phrases, When they ___________, If they ______________, they??? See the problem here? THEY – are a circumstance. We don’t control them or their actions. We can only control ourselves, our own thinking, and our own actions. What can I do to be a friend?
Today, as part one of this topic, I want you to make a gentle inquiry into your thinking and find out what your criteria you’ve created for what a friend is and do you want to keep it? Do you really want to wait for THEM to act before you can feel loved? We think that the other person has to do something in order for us to feel friendship, to feel connection but it’s really an inside job. You don’t have to wait for them. You can offer that to yourself right this very second.
“Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.”
― Mother Teresa
What is happening is that we reach out and love others and if they don’t respond in a way that fits our own mental definition of what a friend is in a timely manner, then we get tired of loving them, so to speak. We give up. It’s too hard to put ourselves out there again. We’re too worried what they’re going to think.
I want to leave you with one last thought/example. I have two dogs. One, a tiny chihuahua, Lupin, who was an only dog for a long time. He was a snob to any other dog that came near him for the longest time. Anytime he’d encounter another dog he’d just turn his head the other way and completely ignore that there was another presence in the room- even if that guest was with us for days – he’d never warm up to it. Most dogs just gave up. They “got the hint” or they got tired of trying to love.
Last year we were given another dog under really strange circumstances. This dog is something else. It’s beyond goofy looking and a little odd. She’s really happy though. Always happy. She’s a small terrier mix of some kind. I don’t know. Her name is Luna and she LOVES our chihuahua…a lot. For weeks she was relentless and loved him non-stop. He’d growl. He’d walk/run away. He’d grumble. But she was still happy go lucky and every time she’d see him it was like, “Oh, my friend!” and she’d run over to him and love him some more.
It got to the point that I was starting to think that maybe we might need to think of other arrangements for this dog but then something happened. They started playing together – which was kind of a miracle because we’ve never really seen Lupin “play” with another dog before. It was so cute and amazing to see this change. Luna, never tired of loving Lupin. She never once thought, “he doesn’t like me.” or “He doesn’t want to be my friend” and gave up loving him. I don’t know really what she thought, I’m guessing obviously. But there is a lesson here. No, I’m not saying be relentless or hounding towards another person. I’m saying, be yourself and don’t get tired of loving others.
We give up far too quickly, afraid that the other person isn’t going to like us, and we don’t give the friendship a chance to bloom. Be yourself, be loving, be persistent in your love and friendship. You can call someone your friend without them having to say it back first.
Friendship is just a thought. I don’t have any friends – is just a thought. They don’t like me – is just a thought. Why not try these on instead:
I don’t have any friends – I do have friends. Everyone is my friend if I believe it.
They don’t like me – They just don’t know me yet. I like them.
I don’t have anyone here that I connect with – I can connect with anyone I choose to – that’s my job.
They never call or invite me to things – Why do I need them to act – why can’t I act? Why don’t I invite them to things? Why aren’t I calling?
There are so many thoughts available to you that will bring you peace, friendship, and love. We don’t have to feel like we’re in poverty in this area anymore. You are capable of feeling love, connection, and friendship right now…if you are willing to work for it on the inside. Continue loving without getting tired. They don’t need to do anything/say anything for you to feel friendship. You get to decide that. You get to decide who is your friend.
Try it today. See how different your life can be.
Part 2 tomorrow – Loneliness is just a feeling.
Sources: *Brooke Castillo’s Model – CTFAR
*Jody Moore – Bold New Mom