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The feeling of loneliness is totally not fun.
It is described as: a feeling of sadness or distress because you desire more social connection than you are currently experiencing.
As an immigrant, especially during the early days/weeks/months or even years of being in a new country, it can be particularly easy to fall into the sadness or distress of loneliness.
It can be a lonely experience when you don’t yet have the ease of being able to communicate effectively in your new language. When you don’t have family with you, and you don’t yet have a network of friends or connections close by to lift you up as you experience all the contrast of new customs. It can hit hard and lead you to feel isolated and very alone.
If you come from a culture that lives and breathes a group mentality, where everybody has their established role within the group, and where your actions are always considered in the context of how it will affect the group, then warming up to a culture that celebrates the individual can be challenging.
In the same way, if you come from a culture where the people are immediately warm and who will befriend almost anyone they meet, it may feel challenging to find yourself in a culture where people take time to warm up to individuals, where privacy and personal space is respected, where people are discerning about who they befriend and those friendships evolve gradually.
The feeling of isolation and loneliness that you experience can leave you feeling . . . empty. One of the consequences of losing touch with other people is that you end up losing touch with yourself. And that is the emptiest feeling of all.
The emptiness gets into your head.
Which is interesting, for while loneliness may be a consequence of outside circumstances, it’s actually a state of mind.
In fact, feeling lonely can become a habit.
Which is good news!
I know that it might not sound like good news but stay with me here . . .
Alone vs Lonely
The act of being alone does not have to lead to feelings of loneliness.
On the contrary, the act of being alone is simply a fact, with no emotion or judgement attached to it at all. You are simply . . . a woman on her own.
Being alone is the fact.
Feeling lonely is an emotional response to your thoughts about being alone.
It’s not the act of being alone that feels bad, it’s the story that you tell yourself about being alone that creates the feeling.
If you take a moment to observe your thoughts, you may notice little unhelpful thoughts sneaking in, such as, “Here I am again, eating dinner all alone in an empty apartment.”
“The people are so different here; they’re friendly but they’re not becoming my friends.”
“I feel so different to everybody else.” “I don’t feel like myself.” “I don’t know who to be.”
Those thoughts don’t feel good, do they?
But if you can catch these thoughts early, you give yourself the opportunity to follow them up with further thoughts that are actually helpful. You might say to yourself,
“Of course you’re feeling lonely. It is very different here and you’ve been brave enough to begin an adventure in this new environment. It’s ok, lovely. You’re ok. You feel lonely now, but you’ll feel better again.”
Those thoughts bring a sense of relief, don’t they? Of gently soothing. You feel a bit lighter after hearing those thoughts, right?
Now allow these new thoughts to become your new habit. The habit of soothing yourself.
That’s the good news, see?! You can choose to create new and better-feeling habits.
You can choose to re-style your story.
As we’ve been exploring in recent posts, our habits form the story that we tell ourselves about who we are. They become part of our sense of identity. Over time, a lonely feeling may lead you to see yourself as a lonely person, becoming a layer of your identity.
So how does that affect the way you behave? Does it make you a little withdrawn, quiet, hard to ignite. Or perhaps you act bubbly and bright, while on the inside you feel sad and disconnected with yourself.
It all plays a role in your energy, the energy that others sense around you. Like a magnet, rather than attracting what you want, you attract who you are in this moment and how you feel.
You feel sad and lonely. But you want good company.
So how do you become a magnet to the best sort of company?
Well, my friends, you become great company for yourself!
When you start truly enjoying hanging out with yourself, it totally uplifts your energy and the way you appear to others.
But the real trick is not to do it for the purpose of attracting others.
Nope. You do it for the sole purpose of experiencing joy . . . in your own company.
All it requires is a little re-styling.
Yep, you get to re-style the elements of your day, one day at a time.
Beginning with today!
We’re going to take four elements that are constants every day.
You likely go through the motions of repeating these elements without much thought; they’ve become habits. And as our habits create our stories, you now get to re-style your story the way you want it, transforming it into a story that speaks of a woman who feels magnificent in her current experience of life. A woman who delights in her everyday movements, transforming them into magical moments of appreciation and anticipation.
So, if you’ve experienced loneliness as an immigrant, or if you’re experiencing it now, let’s turn this whole thing around and totally re-style the experience of being on your own!
Let’s create habits that reinforce being a woman who feels joy in her own company, while she simultaneously anticipates the joy of good company!
The result of these upgrades will be that
- you discover that you actually enjoy hanging out with yourself
- you gradually become a magnet to the best sort of company
Re-style the elements of your day
Whatever you choose to eat today, you get to serve yourself as if you’re in the most stylish of restaurants. Even if you’re eating dinner in front of the television. Even if you’re eating take away.
If you feel rushed in the mornings, try getting up 15 minutes earlier so that you can feel as though you’re requesting room service in a hotel, even while you’re preparing your breakfast yourself. It doesn’t have to be super fancy, you just want it to feel nice.
At lunchtime, feel a little anticipation (anticipate = to look forward to with delight) about your meal.
If it’s a meal that you prepare at home, choose something appealing. Place it in a glass container instead of plastic. Fill it with enticing ingredients.
If you’re buying a quick takeaway lunch, enjoy the busy feeling, the bustle of people with things to do and places to be, people filled with ideas and creativity and desires. Maybe choose to try something new to eat today!
At dinnertime, place the food appealingly on the plate. Be sure to add a serviette, a nice glass for whatever beverage you enjoy, and add a flower or candle. Drink your water from a champagne glass, with a slice of lemon or lime.
Do whatever makes you smile and enjoy your meal with panache!
Your Living Space
Which is the room you spend the most time in?
Or the room that you rarely use and you’d love to spend more time in?
Touch up that living space with a little something.
Spritz some perfume on a cushion or a favourite armchair
Create nice lighting with a candle or lamp, or open the blinds or curtains just enough to allow some golden sunlight to create a charming ambiance inside.
Do you have a messy collection of items in your living space? Clothes or papers or bits and pieces. Pick up one thing, just one thing, find a home for it and kiss it away! Actually give it a kiss and place it in its new home (a drawer, a cupboard, a file, a display shelf or even a rubbish bin).
Pick a flower or even a small branch of shiny green leaves to place in a glass or vase.
Play uplifting or peaceful or inspiring music as you go about your activities; something that gives you a little tingle of pleasure.
Create one small change to elevate the feeling you get when you enter that space.
Adorn your body with clothes that you really enjoy wearing.
Choose one special item today.
An item that you know always makes you feel good. Whether it be an entire outfit, or a simple accessory – a scarf, a bag, earrings, a lick of lipstick, a hat.
A favourite pair of shoes.
Nice underwear (never underestimate the power of sensual or fun or sporty or elegant or colourful underwear to elevate your feelings).
Maybe you have a charm or a colour that reminds you of home. That could be fun! You could put something in your purse or tie a scarf around the straps of your handbag. It’s super important, though, that whatever you choose must make you smile. If something reminds you of home with a sense of regret or lack, put it away immediately! This is a moment to feel joy.
Upgrade your pleasure in being you!
Here's one simple, cheeky thing to elevate your thoughts today . . .
Before you leave the house, you get to look in the mirror, give yourself a wink, and say, “Yeah, baby!”
It’s going to feel really weird, but it will make you laugh. Or smile. At least a little. One way or another, you will feel lighter.
These are the things that I invite you to experience today.
You get to discover what delightful company you are for yourself.
You really are a lot of fun, you know.
In fact, you’re pretty fabulous.
Of course you want to hang out with yourself!