April 15, 2020

This is what makes you feel lonely (FYI: It’s not being alone)

Are you feeling lonely in self-isolation or quarantine? Some people might tell you to just phone a friend or join a zoom call and that should help you feel less lonely. But that is not necessarily the right answer. There are lots of people who feel lonely even when they are surrounded by many people. So what is the one contributing factor to loneliness then? Listen in to this week’s Juice to find out: 

Are you feeling lonely? Loneliness has become quite an epidemic in Canada, in North America, and around the world. The UK has a Minister of Loneliness because it can be a troubling thing when people are feeling lonely. We may think that we’re all feeling more lonely these days because we’re alone, but in fact, that is not the contributing factor to loneliness. There are a lot of people who feel lonely, even surrounded by lots of people, and there are lots of people who don’t feel lonely at all, even when they’re home alone quite a bit of the time.

One difference between being alone and feeling lonely is, do you feel that you belong?

Even though I’m home alone, I feel that I belong with my family, with my daughters. I feel that I belong to my extended family. I feel that I belong within my community. I feel I belong with my neighbors. I feel that I belong with my incredible circle of girlfriends and other friends. I feel like I belong and therefore, I don’t feel lonely. Some of you listening to this might say, “I don’t feel like I belong anywhere”. My heart goes out to you because that feeling of social connectedness is so important to us. It is a real human need that we need as human beings to thrive, to flourish. It is so important to our wellbeing. So if you’re thinking to yourself, I really don’t belong anywhere, then ask yourself:

When was there a time in your life where you did feel that you belonged?

Was there a group that you did feel you belonged to? Are those people still around? Could you reach out to them? Could you reignite some sort of exchange with them again? Because if you felt that you belong before, perhaps you could reengage that feeling of belonging with those people in your life. Once again, if the answer is no, then now I’m going to turn to the research done by Dr. Isaac Prilleltensky. And what he talks about is at the center of belonging is this idea of mattering. There are 2 contributing factors to feeling we matter:

Do we feel that we matter?

From a self point of view, do we feel appreciated by this group of people? Do we feel respected by this group of people? Do we feel recognized by this group of people? If we didn’t show up, would they care? Would they call? Would they even notice? But this is only 50% of the mattering equation. The second is:

Where do I bring value?

How can I bring value to the world? How can I contribute to the world? Think about the lady across the street that you go and check in on to make sure she has groceries and to make sure that she’s being taken care of. You matter to her. If you’re not feeling that self value, you can matter to somebody else. Now is the time to think about how you can reach out to others and to help them because you do matter to those people.

If you’re really feeling lonely, sometimes this can cause depression and you don’t really feel like reaching out to other people to see how you can help when you don’t have that kind of energy for yourself. So be aware that that might be stopping you. Be aware that that could be your obstacle. And if you can get over that hump and say, where can I add value? Where can I help right now? I think you will see cracks in that and know that whatever you do, small or big, whatever your contribution is, it is valued in this world, especially today. People need you.

I am having people join me online for weekly watercooler talks. If you are feeling lonely, and you think you might want to join in, please do. We are fostering a sense of belonging in the watercooler. Everyone is welcome!

Join my virtual watercooler talks!

What is a well-being watercooler? When I used to work in an office, every time I went to refresh my coffee in the kitchen or get water at the watercooler, I would run into others and stop and chat. I wouldn’t chat for long, maybe just 5 minutes, but it broke up the monotony of my day and kept me up to date on my co-workers’ lives.


My virtual watercooler sessions will be an opportunity to learn one science-backed well-being tool in 15 minutes or less and then I create virtual smaller watercooler groups so that you can meet new people, discuss and chat. This is not a time to talk about coronavirus! It is a time to talk about something uplifting, interesting or positive in your life. It is a time for you to take a social break, do some networking and have some laughs!

I will run these watercooler sessions twice a week, Monday and  Thursday at 2pm EST, 30 minutes from start to finish, for the next two weeks ending Thursday April 23rd. I may continue, if there is interest so stay tuned.

Register now

If you’re interested in learning more about ‘mattering’ from Isaac Prilleltensky you can watch this talk:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqrmhUUbryQ&t=42s

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