In this fast paced world, it is challenging to connect. Even when we are in contact with people all day, through email, telephone, or even in face to face meetings, our interactions rarely scratch below the surface. There is just so much to do. It is hard to make time to have a conversation with someone unless it will help us to accomplish one of the tasks on our very full plates.
And so, we find ourselves lonely at the end of our busy days. And we pull out the bottle of wine, turn on Netflix or grab our favourite comfort food to fill the void. Anything to numb the pain of admitting to ourselves that we feel utterly alone.
While our avoidance strategies may work for a while, eventually we hit a breaking point. Sometimes as the result of an enlightened aha moment, and, more often, as a result of our avoidance strategies culminating in some kind of personal or professional crisis. Either way we simply get exhausted by the effort it takes to keep hiding from our pain.
What I have realized from awakening to my own pain of my own loneliness in this way, and from doing the work to heal the eating disorder that I was using to numb that pain, is that there is only one thing that works: being seen.
To dispel loneliness, we must be seen. Truly and vulnerably seen.
We must be willing to go out with zits on our faces. We must be willing to attend a party when our dresses don’t fit. We must be willing to admit we don’t know something, and that we don’t have it all figured out. We must be willing to say we are lonely and let someone in. We must be willing to receive the warmth of a hug. We must be willing to show our playful child-like side to the world. We must be willing to create and share our own unique art. We must be willing to let all of the things we think are not good enough or that we are in some way ashamed of be seen in the world.
Being seen dispels shame, and creates true, nourishing connection.
Being seen as who we really are in this moment – a beautiful messy human in process – and not the image of perfection we wish we were or hope to become, is the only way to satisfy that deep longing for connection we all feel.
To be seen in the world we must first see ourselves. Seeing ourselves means re-welcoming ourselves into our own homes, into our own bodies. It means becoming friends with ourselves exactly as we are. It means seeing our own struggles, our own weaknesses, our own beauty, and our own gifts and saying, Yes, all of this is me, and I am okay.
So I invite you to start small. Begin with one thing you don’t like about yourself. Choose something you keep secret and release it into the light. Maybe you admit to your mom or friends that you fed your children KD. Maybe you are honest with your boss about something you messed up at work and ask for more time. Maybe you stand in front of the mirror naked and welcome the softness of your stomach. Maybe you pull out your paints from the dust covered box under your bed and let yourself paint for an hour one night. Maybe you admit to yourself that you are lonely and ask a friend for a hug.
Being seen is not a quick fix, but it does create magic.
When we start to create a relationship with ourselves that is loving and nourishing we can start to be honest with ourselves about who we really are and what we really need. And from that compassionate witnessing of ourselves, we find not only the courage to reach out and be seen vulnerably and to connect deeply with others, but that we are not alone at all.
We begin to feel pulsing through us an energy, an aliveness. We feel held somehow even when we are the only one in the room. Our loneliness dissipates in the greater truth that emerges.
There is no need to hide. We are all human. And we are already connected. All that is left is to live.