Lessons, musings and advice from the author of ‘The Life I Won’
I have been reading a lot lately and the subject covered in many of the texts has been loneliness, not that I have sought this subject out, it has just happened. It seemed apt then for me to write about how I perceive this ‘state’ in our society today.
Social media has opened up the world for us as human beings. A vast world filled with 900 billion species and spaces and landscapes that most of us can only imagine. This connection to everyone and the comparisons to our own seemingly insignificant lives can leave many of us feeling lonely or introverted.
I really dislike labels, so I would like to talk about why we feel the need to label everything and why loneliness is an epidemic. According to Robin Dunbar, there is a magic number for human beings to be able to maintain stable social relationships with others of 150. I am going to guess that you can connect with that many people in an hour in Instagram. So why do we feel the need to connect with 1000’s on social media and what is it doing to us cognitively?
I face self-esteem and loneliness issues in the women I work with every single day, even when they are surrounded by people.
Let’s explore some of the reasons behind why so many feel lonely in a world so connected and how to step into your power as a leader in your life.
I said I hate labels and I do!
Black, white, fat, thin, quiet, loud, creative, academic…. we are all the same, but we treat each other according to perceived labels.
When a dog meets a dog do you think they care if they are a Labrador or a collie? No, they greet each other in their way and then move on. Some are aggressive, some passive, some bouncy and full of fun, some slow and considered, but they are all just dogs and dogs don’t judge.
Human’s judge. Fact.
We feel the need to put others into a box or category, therefore giving each other labels. Ask yourself if you do this when you meet somebody new. Be honest and use it as a journal prompt, ‘what do I think when I meet new people?’ If you do it, we all do. It is a human trait, what social media has done is opened us all up to being judged by everyone. This has a direct impact on how we feel about ourselves and forces us to retreat. Have you ever said ‘I am having a break from social media’?
Protect yourself and set boundaries. Become aware of how you judge, be honest, and take measures to change this behaviour in yourself. You are the only person that you can change. Accepting responsibility for your own behaviour in judging others and giving them labels, will allow you to change it.
You are responsible, and this acceptance starts you on the path of a leader.
The result of this ‘over connection’ often leaves people feeling overwhelmed. It is common in women who are often the main carers even if they work or have a business.
Believe it or not it is not the workload or the responsibilities, it is trying to maintain too many relationships. Look now at how many groups you are in, how many people want you to be in their network, buy their product or service. How many people are displaying their lives on social media just looking for someone to care? If you are empathic in any way, you will feel obliged to join or care and that adds pressure to you. Ask yourself this question ‘will joining this group, network, page etc. serve me in any way?’ If the answer is no, then let it go.
Protect yourself by not scrolling and comparing, scroll and celebrate with people, but remember their life is their responsibility and your life is YOURS. Overwhelm can be managed by consciously approaching situations with knowledge and looking after yourself well.
You are the single most important person that you need to care for. The analogy of putting on your own oxygen mask first is so true! When I met my late husband and he passed the ‘he is a good human being’ test, I told him that the pecking order for ‘care’ in my home was – me first, then the kids, then the dogs, then him because he was an adult. In order to look after others, you must look after YOU first.
Stop putting yourself at the bottom of the list and be the leader within.
Many of us are hiding how we truly feel, it is the result of the overwhelm caused by over connection.
Often people are sharing superficial and frankly false snippets of what is happening in their life. I totally understand why, because I have seen people reach out via social media only to be ridiculed. People prefer the good stuff to the dark side of us. A little vulnerability is OK but share the truth and the trolls come out. This forces people into hiding. But as the posts keep popping up of all of the perfect lives out there, many people just retreat further back and feel even worse.
We are manifesting and perpetuating a nation of loners who feel intimidated by the apparently perfect people.
Please, treat what you see on social media as you would a fairy tale.
It can be pleasant to read but it isn’t true! Make genuine connections with people who you resonate with and can build a relationship with. For me this is a small handful of close friends whom I trust; then friends who I like, family and connections where we have mutually beneficial resources. The rest are just white noise.
I treat all people kindly and with respect, but you can’t be friends with everyone and trying to is killing you. Stop hiding and be selective. Leaders choose the best people for the task, journey or vision. Do that.
Choose the best people for your life and business.
The very definition of an entrepreneur is a leader. That person who leads the business, project, product or service. They are the inventor, the motivator, the mentor. Often, however, their journey can be a lonely one, particularly at the start. When you are a solopreneur, just starting out, everything is down to you. Nobody to brainstorm with or to give you feedback. This is when the quality of your connections is your lifeblood. Connect with people who can help you and add value to your journey.
When we lived in small self-sufficient communities of around 150 (that magic number!) everybody in that group had a role and a purpose. The unit of 150 functioned efficiently in order to survive and thrive. Great leaders surround themselves with the people who will help them to survive and thrive. Sometimes that means cutting loose people who do not serve, which can be painful, but necessary.
The greatest leaders lead with love, respect and great communication. Think Martin Luther King Jr; Gandhi; Maya Angelou; Jane Austin; Amelia Earhart and so many more. Model yourself on their skills and power, NOT on their alter egos who led through fear such as Hitler.
Decide the person you want to be and that will dictate the leader you will become.
All good things are wild and free.
You do not need to feel overwhelmed or lonely. You DO need to take the lead in your life and business. Reach out to people you resonate with and ask advice and help. Those of us who are genuine will always respond to you. When you take the lead, when you surround yourself with a few good people, the ripples and messages that you send out with that action will change your life and your business.
If you want to reach out to me and have that initial call, you can book it right here! I don’t often share this link in my blogs, but I really want you to know that you are not alone.