I recently moved to Charlotte NC, 1000 miles away from where I grew up and lived for more than…well, all my life.
I left a profession I enjoyed, as well as my friends, family, and home. I decided that I was going to pursue my dreams of becoming a leader in intuitive advisor, emotional fitness and healing. Now was the time, since each day that passed, was yet another day where I wasn’t living my authentic life.
When I left Vermont, I felt prepared. I knew what I was getting into as I’d taken over a year to decide where and what I was going to do. I knew my personal contacts in Charlotte would be limited to my daughter.
I knew I was going to a new area where I was going to be a small fish in a big pond and it would be different than what I was accustomed to. In Vermont, it often felt like I knew everyone, and in Charlotte I know only one person. As a social butterfly, making new friends really has never been an issue for me. Until now.
Which brings me to the topic of isolation and loneliness. Fortunately, I had a friend that drove down with me, so it didn’t hit me right away. She stayed and helped me unpack and get settled. The first four days were great!
But then she left to go home. It struck me hard and suddenly, I had to face the fact that I’d really upped and moved! The friends and support network I’d depended on for so many years lived in another state and some even in another country.
My longtime friends and I would hike together, go out for dinner and drinks, dance, and worked together. We’d laugh, cry, be one another’s biggest cheerleaders, and lift each other up by cracking a joke to lighten things up. It hit me hardest the first weekend I was alone in Charlotte.
My new work gives me the privilege to work from home. I have a private office, which creates the ability to get a tremendous amount of work done from the comfort of my own home. In fact, this reminds me of the commercial where a guy is on a web conference call and he sneezes, the computer slides down and everyone can see that he’s sitting in a dress shirt and boxers. The comforts of home.
At the same time, the comforts of home can create the feel of isolation from human contact. In Erica Cirino’s article “What are the Benefits of Hugging?” she cites studies, which show human contact is critical to our happiness, wealth, reduction of pain and fear, and a benefit to our overall health.
In the article, Cirino quotes family therapist, Virginia Satir, who once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth. While that may sound like a lot of hugs, it seems that many hugs are better than not enough.”
I hadn’t received a hug since I dropped my friend off at the airport, and six days later, I was mourning the loss of a hug. And, I LOVE to hug! I hug most people I become friendly with as it’s just the way I am. I felt myself sliding into a downward spiral of all the misery that I could think of in my life.
I decided to do something productive, like pay bills. Nothing like piling it on! My move cost more than anticipated, I was living on my reserves, and not much was coming in yet from my new business.
My daughter hadn’t been by for a few days, and it was a holiday weekend so all my friends back home were busy. I’d been all alone for days in my new home. I couldn’t text someone and say, “Hey, want to connect and go for a walk, glass of wine, coffee, anything?” Because no one was here.
Feeling alone, sad, isolated, and scared, my thoughts then drifted to thinking about my son’s suicide from eight years ago. So I added on wallowing in my self-blame of that trauma. Oh good, I get to load on the unworthiness too! And, of course, here it is…the thought popped into my mind of “What have I done?!”
What happened on that Sunday is what people live through their entire lives. They focus on what is going ‘wrong,’ worrying about things they have no control over or continuing to be a recluse because it is easier than taking the first step. We live in fear of what the big bad world has in store for us, so we stay stuck right where we are. We stop living.
The good news is I only did it for a day!
The next day, I called my accountability partner first thing. I cried. I told her I was scared and I gave voice to my vulnerability and leaned on her. Then I was able to be in a place where I realized, “All is well. I’m ok!”
By thinking and talking through all the good things occurring in my life, I was able to shift out of the fearful emotions; I was able to shift my entire attitude by focusing on all that I am grateful for.
Andrea Brandt cites several studies that proves this in her recent article published July 30, 2018 in Psychology Today. From there, I decided to make a plan on how I could become less isolated. What could I do differently to still get work done, hold onto the knowledge that all is ok and will be well, and take care of myself while doing that? I took time to decide what I wanted, when I would do it and how.
I won’t lie, it took some energy to take the first step. I decided to shower (yes, the simple act of showering is powerful), put make-up on and get outside. I immediately felt lighter and happier!
As you shift your attitude, your habits, your beliefs; your life shifts as well. I learned from the Jack Canfield training programs I’ve attended, that we are responsible for the outcome of our life, no matter what is presented to us. It’s truly up to you. No one else can do it for you.
Take it from me, it works.
The steps below helped me get out of the loneliness I was feeling. I felt happier and I started to laugh more again. I accomplished a lot more at work, and once I did that, a call came in and I got a job, which produced revenue! Money coming in.
Allow yourself to grieve. I realized on that Sunday that I hadn’t allowed myself to do that. Let yourself cry, scream, write, or whatever it may be for you to release those emotions. Giving yourself time to grieve is important in order to move forward in your life. The holidays are here. Some of you reading this article may be deep in current grief, and others will have experienced grief deeply at some point in your lives. It’s been eight years since my son has been in spirit. Know that you will get through the holidays. I promise it will make it easier if you practice the steps I’ve provided daily. I live it.
2. Gratitude shifts Perspective
Focus on the things that have worked out for you. It is just as easy to snowball downward as it is to create a positive outlook. There are so many things we can be thankful for: our jobs or careers, our home, having heat/air conditioning, plus water and food to eat. Sometimes we just have to focus on the fact that we have one person that shows they care about us. Lean on them. Create a daily gratitude list before you get out of bed in the morning. Just 10 things you are grateful. It could be as simple as I have a bed to sleep in!
3. Nature is a cure for the soul!
Get outside and be in nature. This has been the most important thing for me! While you may still be on your own, you will be in your natural environment. Breathing in the air will make such a big difference. Getting your energy flowing will also create happiness. Go into the woods, take a walk in the park, walk along the water. Focus on your breathe and leave your phone at home. Breathe deep, feel the air going into your lungs and release the anxiety as you are walking. There are many natural environments you can go to. No excuses.
4. Work in Public
If you’re working from home, relocate a couple days a week. Find new locations to be in public. I reached out and asked a local merchant where they would go to have a glass of wine and work on the computer. They pointed me in the right direction. It was in a specialty food store! Go figure, dinner and wine in a grocery store. I hit the jackpot! Or go to a local coffee shop. There’s free internet everywhere. Even if you don’t talk to people, you will be around action. It might even give you an opportunity to receive hugs!
5. Connect through Technology
If you’re bound to your home, download an app, which allows you to speak face-to-face with your friends. Have a virtual cup of coffee, chat over a glass of wine at night, or just call at lunch while you are sitting on a bench soaking in the beauty around you.
I use FaceTime and Zoom mostly. While you can’t physically hug them, it sure is nice to see their faces. Laugh with them directly and just connect face to face. It changes your perspective completely and with technology these days, you can make just about anything happen.
6. Step into Your Fear
Fear prevents us from living life fully so begin by taking a small step forward. Get used to that and then make it a habit. Once it becomes a habit, take another step. It’s so exciting once you realize that you’ve been missing out on a lot because you allowed your fear to stop you from living your life. It gets easier and easiser when you actually take a step. Once you do it, you realize you are much stronger than you anticipated. It’s so much fun when you do!
You have the ability to step out of your isolation and loneliness. Join me in choosing to embrace life and live in joy.
Cathleen L. is an emotional fitness expert, intuitive advisor, healer and speaker. Her first book is coming out in 2019. Be on the lookout for it. Subscribe to her blog and contact her through www.cathleenl.com