Lonely Doesn’t Always Mean Alone

In this episode:

Being aware of when we feel the most lonely could help us learn to pay attention to how we can include someone else. It helps us notice how we can serve others. Awareness of our own struggle can also help us repurpose something negative into an opportunity to make a difference.

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Inspired Life

This week, I want to talk about loneliness. I think it takes many forms, but this one really hits me: one is not necessarily the loneliest number, like the 1960s song once said. Sometimes, we can be even more lonely in groups than we are alone.

I’ve said it before on this show that I’m an introvert. Let’s make it clear that I am not shy. And I don’t avoid people. I just recharge most when I’m alone doing something peaceful by myself.

However, I’ve come to realize that I often feel alone with a group of people. More so than when I’m alone, as in by myself. And this is why I think quarantine was not awful for me. The more often I was in groups of people where I felt lonely, the more stressful it was. And quarantine removed that for a while.

This is not just about introverts or about quarantine. I want to talk about what makes us lonely. My observations:

  1. For some people, being alone IS lonely. Isolation from others.
  2. For some people, being married is lonely, because there is conflict in the marriage and they don’t know where to turn.
  3. Some feel lonely in groups of people. I’m going to come back to that shortly.
  4. Lonely people might know a LOT of people.
  5. Loneliness can come with change. Moving, changing jobs, quarantine.
  6. Being the only one: status, skin color, a change (such as getting sober in a family that drinks), not speaking the language.
  7. Social anxiety and wanting to be accepted.

I have discovered that I often feel lonely in groups of people, even people I love. There are a few reasons:

  1. If I feel don’t “get” me, or don’t agree with me.
  2. For many years, all of my friends were of the same mindset as I am and shared similar values and beliefs. If your beliefs or values begin to go in a different direction, that leaves you as the only one and unable to speak without fear of being condemned for your thoughts.

Life, Repurposed

I’m seeing that any time I’m feeling something, it gives me an opportunity to practice empathy for someone else. By noticing when I feel lonely, it helps me to repurpose that feeling into something productive. Here are some examples:

  1. Increased awareness of who isn’t talking when in a group and bringing them into the conversation.
  2. A desire to make sure that others feel they won’t be attacked if they say something that doesn’t perfectly align with my point of view. Practicing being less argumentative and more saying, “Tell me more.”
  3. An intentional search to add more diversity to the friends I choose.
  4. This one is for in Christian circles: more openness to hear from someone who says they are doubting their faith so they don’t feel alone in expressing their deepest need.
  5. Rather than retreating, if I feel lonely in a crowd, I approach someone else.
  6. Look for quality relationships over quantity.
  7. I become aware that I might have my guard up and that I’m preempting a rejection by not being vulnerable.
  8. Keep social media in its own box. Don’t compare it with in-real-life people.
  9. Accept that closeness means different things for different people.

Becoming more aware of my feelings and perceptions can help with learning how to repurpose negative energy into something that can bless someone else and make them feel loved.

Recommended Resources

I want to introduce you to the podcast: More Than Small Talk. Small talk is something that happens when we're not really connecting. But deep conversation is meaningful. The hosts of this podcast have heart-to-heart conversations about life, and I've loved listening in. They call the listener the 4th chair friend.

Recently, Holley, Suzie, and Jennifer discussed closeness in episode 79: What Does Being Close Mean? They talked about how each has something different that makes them feel close to someone else. For one it is a meaningful conversation, but not necessarily in person. For another, it can be hugs and in-person contact. In their conversation, the gals talked about how to learn to appreciate the needs of others as they gave examples of how to initiate something that others would appreciate, even if it isn’t a personal preference. I loved how they explained closeness, and I encourage you to check out the episode.

There's a More Than Small Talk Facebook page too!

Books by the hosts:

Jennifer Watson – Freedom!

Suzie Eller – The Spirit-Led Heart: Living a Life of Love and Faith without Borders

Holley Gerth – Strong, Brave, Loved: Empowering Reminders of Who You Really Are


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(Please note: books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book. ) *This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.

Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.

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This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.

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