I’ve been feeling alone, lacking support, and I didn’t know what to do about it. I know it’s up to me to change, to seek, to cultivate I just didn’t know how to begin.
I threw the I Ching and got the answer “Family.’” I have a relatively new tribe with fabulous people in it, two of my four children are in town but are very busy so we don’t interact much, and I have accepted that there are only three people I see on a in-person basis that nurture me. Am I at fault? How do I change? What do I do to draw to me the qualities of support that we all need?
We need acceptance
People who care about you are more forgiving of your idiosyncrasies than the rest of the world. That means we can be more natural, more ourselves around them. That’s a huge need for each of us. We need to feel we are OK, even better than OK. When I allow myself to feel it, the Deeper Song Community is very encouraging of what I do. Do you accept the support that comes your way? Do you let it come in and nourish you? What do you need acceptance for? Your service? Who you are? Someone to make you feel you have value? Who fulfills the role of helping you feel accepted in your life?
We need to be heard
it is very rewarding to share your thoughts and have someone simply listen. You may not even want or need feedback. You want a safe place to share. That’s the part that went missing for me as I changed tribes. I began to search for a way to have stimulating 1:1 interaction. My three friends here will listen and I have several online friends who will also. There are probably more if I would ask for it. It’s the feeling that someone cares enough about you and your life to listen to you figure it out.
We need to feel appreciated
Appreciation includes acknowledgement. It can appear in the form of comments or e-mails, or even the mere gesture of passing your work on to others. We need someone to listen to our dreams and the steps we are taking toward them and mirror back our excitement and enthusiasm. We need someone to say “you are excited about that, it feels like you are aligned with the direction, well done. You are truly following your passion.” My online community is very thoughtful and generous in their acknowledgment, appreciation and response to my work. I actually collect their responses in one place so I can refer to them and understand how I am in service. I’m going to look closely to make certain I’m actively appreciating others. Who fulfills the role of appreciation and acknowledgment in your life?
Encouragement keeps us going
As a child, our parents encouraged us to walk. As we matured and developed out own path we created our own support system. It is possible that we have to hunt to find encouragement from like-minded people The weirder my interests become, the further afield I have to go to get an aligned response. It also may mean that you grow apart from some people, including your family, as you pursue your own unique interests. I work to absorb encouragement from the responses and results that comes from my many forms of sharing. Who provides you with encouragement in your life?
Who models friendship for you?
As I search for a way to feel more supported and nourished and acknowledged, I know I have to begin with myself. I have to become better at supporting and encouraging others. As I search for a role model, I see things I don’t want – I do not want to be an enabler. I do not want people to be dependent on me. There are always people with qualities you’d like to emulate. It may simply be one trait. I want to be more thoughtfully responsive so I notice how others do that. One friend simply listens and lets me just share. I know she doesn’t always understand the details but she is responsive to my emotions and gives me a safe place to express them. Another friend models like-mindedness. It’s particularly fascinating since she is a fundamentalist Christian and I am a Metaphysician/Taoist. But we both have captured the same spiritual essence. Another friend is very wise. As I search for this particular answer, I’m probably going to write her for guidance. I want to be a better friend, so I’m writing this to figure out what that looks and feels like.
How do you have to change?
I’m the only one who can make me feel less lonely. Alone is fine, I like that. Lonely needs some fixing. I have to reach out. I have to listen more closely and see how I can contribute. I have to accept the love and appreciation and kindness that is already flowing my way.
Do you let the good stuff in?
In an Est Communication Workshop in NYC years ago we did an exercise that illustrated how effectively we block the compliments from coming in. We do it unconsciously. We do it often. Listen to the feedback that comes your way. In that exercise I could feel myself totally block the nice things that were being said. I don’t know whether I didn’t believe them or was just in the habit of not accepting them. I’ve been practicing acceptance since then. When an acknowledgment come your way absorb it, digest it, and accept the gift – whether it is a nudge to change or a compliment that keeps you going.
The quality of your extended family
I changed tribes this past year. Once I realized the people in my Senior Community were not my tribe I was able to stop trying to belong where I didn’t want to belong and started finding my extended family online. The 1:1 conversations I’ve had have been awesome I come away with a much deeper and more nourishing connection and a new friend.
Who is in your life? What do they bring to you? What do you do for them? Is there anyone you have outgrown who is not going in the direction you have chosen and may be holding you back? The lovely thing about an extended family is that you get to pick and choose the people that nourish and support you the most.
You are like the five people you most hang out with. Take a close look at that. They reflect your views about yourself, your work, and your life. It’s up to you to change your reflection by changing the people you allow into your life.
With change comes limbo
I know life is a series of cycles and I’m at the beginning of one loosely marked “Deepen Relationships.” That means I need to reach out to the people I already resonate to in my life. It means I’m ready to attract a few more close-up, everyday, hang out with friends. Now that I am open to new like-minded, in-person friends, all I have to do is watch for them to show up and then take steps to connect with them
Who is in your support system? What kind of support do you need? Where can you get that? What are your next steps to strengthen your personal support system?
To Sing a Deeper Song consider:
02– The Hole In Our Life Called Loneliness (podcast, 20 minutes)
03– Planting Roots and the Fundamental Need for Security (podcast, 20 minutes)
04–How to Redefine Yourself and the 30 Year Plan (podcast, 20 minutes)