Many people just spent the holidays feeling a sense of loss, missing someone they love dearly, or wishing they were part of a warm circle instead of feeling cold and alone. A human truth is we can be surrounded by people and still feel we’re alone -–on the outside looking in.
Have you ever wanted to be part of something only to feel the doors are closed to you? So you walked away without trying to make a connection? I know the feeling.
I spent a lot of my life on the outside looking in, because of insecurity. Mingling, joining in is near impossible when you are feeling “not okay” on the inside. And once depressive isolation takes root, the kinds of “relief” I used to try to feel better became self-destructive.
There is good news out there, but it won’t fall into my lap or yours. Scrolling through Facebook won’t help. We have to be willing to put forth some efforts to connect with people and to help others.
Of course, getting help for mental health or substance problems is a necessary prerequisite to developing relationships and to feeling okay. Substance abuse is a closed, essentially selfish cycle for a person. It shuts out the willingness to be truly present with people. It also locks the door tight on making a connection with God or a “Higher Power,” if you prefer.
There is help out there and sometimes there are miracles. I wonder how many miracles go unnoticed by humans on this earth. If our lifeline is not grabbed when it floats by, rescue is lost. I didn’t want to be lost, to simply float away down my self-destructive river. When I saw the lifeline, I grabbed it.
I washed, rinsed and repeated over and over. I noticed I was feeling better. I realized that being kind to others helped me. Gradually, I developed relationships with people whom I love dearly. I continue to look for ways to connect with people. I also guard my sometimes-fragile psyche by avoiding negative news, political situations, and violence on TV. Statistics prove our age of electronic gadgetry is producing a lot of loneliness and isolation. If you are feeling like an outsider watching a wonderful life pass right by you, perhaps it’s time to unplug from some of these destructive habits and reach out to humanity.
I have learned that the people I spend time with goes a long way to determine what my attitude will be and what I will become. Look around you for healthy people. If you search for them, you will find them. I said “healthy” without explaining or qualifying the word. We know what healthy means in this world when we are hurting emotionally and spiritually! Healthy people will help you on your journey. Part of our journey here is to realize that all of us are connected. Each of us is here to fulfill a purpose. All I have to do is accept God’s purpose for me and then do my best to act on it one day at a time. Then you’ll find yourself on the inside, instead of feeling like you’re always outside the circle of life.
Do you have a story or a comment ? I would love to hear from you.
People nowadays feel adrift and lost. For many, the world is changing too fast and life feels dangerous and hopeless.
There used to be what I am calling “anchors” in our lives. Relatives and friends in a small town could be counted on when times were tough. Churches knit communities together. Perhaps there was even a community center where old friends would congregate and plan projects to help others. A long-term marriage/relationship was a solid anchor for many people. The family dinner table was another anchor as was the evening prayer. These things allowed a person to find balance or become “centered” in the things that are truly important in life, things of our hearts.
So many people have lost these kinds of supports. There is a vague sense of loss and discontent. It hurts so they push it away or “numb out.” People try to create new anchors. Social media is a fast and easy “go-to” to combat sadness and loneliness. “Facetime” allows a sort of connection with our families across the country. Alcohol, marijuana (now legal in many places) and other substances help people avoid feeling the losses in our modern, urban society.
Sadly, these “helpers” often become painful addictions creating a host of new problems. And they fail to fill the aching hole in our hearts.
I remember well the feelings of loss in my twenties and thirties. I had moved far from my hometown and saw my extended family rarely. We weren’t having a “family dinner” in our rushed home. The kinds of anchors that can center a person, spiritually and emotionally, were absent. Heavy work and drinking schedules did not make me happy.
Since then, I have managed to keep ahold of a few anchors that I believe produce true happiness. There is an almost endless list of things people can do! I have a program of spiritual study, family conferences and prayer, regular talks with family members I love and Starbuck dates with my wife. Certainly, I am a work in progress. I am not always consistent in doing these things. When I do not follow through, I start to notice the return of that vague discontent surfacing in my gut. This reminds me to get busy doing something good for me and others.
Do your anchors make you feel happy and clean on the inside? Perhaps you feel as though you need to chart a course for better living or to organize your life. Does the thought of doing so leave you feeling fearful? Are you doubting your ability to change? If so, there is good news ahead. Everyone shares these feelings and thoughts. The only difference between people who make changes and those who stay stuck is willingness to take action.
You do not have to re-invent your whole life. All it takes is a beginning action step. Use the “Five Percent Rule” to help you remember not to be discouraged by the big picture.
Do you have a story about finding anchors in your life or a comment? I would love to hear from you.