Start by looking at, and looking after yourself:
Sometimes feeling lonely is legitimate and circumstances leave us without our partners, spouses or loved ones. Yet, loneliness may also be the product of our unwillingness to consider what we might do differently to engage with people, or to attract other people to us.
This doesn’t mean being fake or inauthentic, but sometimes people find themselves isolated because they refused to change aspects of themselves that encourage alienation. It can be hard to admit that we are unpleasant to be around, or that we have grown into being a grouchy old man set in his ways. But as with so many unfortunate scenarios, pride rears its ugly head with loneliness, too, so taking stock of ourselves, and being really honest about it, might be the first step we need to take. Improving our outlook may be the ultimate defense against isolation.
The best way to start this process? Ask those who know you best for honest feedback about what makes you “hard to be around.” You may be surprised to find that others are open to the same insights, and the process can immediately spur a greater connection.
Build Your own “Inlets”
These are just as important as “Outlets” in our lives. We all know “Outlets” – opportunities or activities that allow us to “blow off steam” and put our energy into activities that take our mind of stressful situations.
“Inlets” are activities and habits that build our resilience – our ability to bounce back. “Inlets” provide for us long after the action is done, and are vital to building and maintaining our inner health.
The following actions can bring about really positive change:
- Give yourself 2 to 3 seconds before reacting to anything negative.
- Take a few minutes each day to be silent (it does wonders for your brain),
- Consider the benefits of Meditation and include this in your daily routine
- Practice Mindfulness, (training yourself to pay attention to what is happening here and now, and how you are experiencing it).
- Turn off the negative stories on the news – it will help you recover your sense of who you are. We are overloaded with negative stories from all around the world now. When I was a kid we would hear about some local disaster but rarely heard of the troubles in Russia or America and we were better off for the lack of bad news. Today they are on the news every hour and Tv repeats them at night in case you missed it.
What to do with this knowledge?
There is nothing wrong with men getting together to have a drink and watch football. Yet if we really want to forge friendships that last a lifetime, and that are safe for us to share our inner selves, we will do it in a way that honors our friends and ourselves. That makes it safe to deal with things that matter.
There is nothing wrong with reaching out to other men and heading to your local men’s shed is one way to make that happen. You never know you may just find a shed full of blokes in the same boat!
Next time, we will look at how men relate, and some specific steps to counter that loneliness that can creep up with age.