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Banish Loneliness With the 4 L's

06/11/2010 06:03 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Ever since I wrote the article Turning Loneliness Into Deeper Connection I have been far from lonely. Partly, this has been because I decided to renew contacts with friends and partly because I have been saying "yes" to invitations, even when I thought I did not have time for them.

Emails from readers on the topic are still coming to me, especially from men. One reader explains:

Almost by definition we think of "loners" and even eccentrics as men, yet even those men deemed sociable are often quite friendless; many have "mates" -- usually associated with work or sports contacts -- mates who are good for fishing or watching sports with, whilst remaining devoid of anyone with whom they can share more intimately with. We don't seem to know how to network like women, and we seem to reserve our deeper (read more vulnerable) selves for our partners, (and even then some women decry the lack of emotional intimacy from their men).

And from another reader:

Boys are raised to be first and number one in all categories -- doesn't argue much for collaboration or cooperation. In primitive cultures it's much different as you know. In one documentary I saw about a tribe in Africa young men compete in a footrace.The big difference is when one stumbles and falls they ALL stop to pick him up get re-set and start again together. Here in the U.S. we would have cleat marks on our backs!!!

Here are the 4 L's for you to consider:

1. LOVING

Love is the binding force that connects us. The thread of love weaves through our lives. When we look to the love in ourselves and others, it heals, gives purpose, meaning and direction. For love read beauty, wisdom, kindness, vulnerability, compassion -- truly, there is a lot of it, in and around all of us. Love blesses us.

Loving starts with ourselves. It is your greatest resource. Love yourself beyond your irritations and frustrations; love your tenderness and sensitivity; embrace yourself in those times when you feel less than your best. You are worth every ounce of love you can give to yourself, especially at those times when you feel undeserving.

My Dad, my hero, at 91 is naturally a loner. He is a great reader and up until a few months ago, tended a garden allotment where he delighted in growing vegetables, flowers and fruits. When he had surplus of green beans, strawberries, potatoes or onions, he gave them away. He takes care to be interested in others. He never passes someone without exchanging a greeting or a kind word. A couple of years ago, he created a League of Gentlemen -- nine cricket enthusiasts like himself to support the local club that plays on the village green.

When he turned 90, he was given an amazing birthday party by all the people who live in his retirement estate. Even as a loner, he is very loved. My Dad is a great example of what you give out, you tend to receive back.

Another gentleman wisely wrote:

Sometimes when we look only at our burdens we see them big and unbearable. But if we take a minute and look around to other people's problems, ours get dwarfed. May be I should look around and give a helping hand to those who need it most. Even just this attitude makes me feel less lonely and surrounded by caring people.

Love is the cure---
for your pain will keep giving birth to more pain 

until your eyes constantly exhale love
as effortlessly as your body 
yields its scent.

- Rumi

2. LISTENING

As I wrote last week in "Listening to the 'Still Small Voice'", you have a wealth of knowing and understanding within you. Ask yourself how you can best banish loneliness -- and listen for the answer.

One of the perhaps unrecognized values in a close marriage or partnership is that of having a "witness" to your trials and triumphs. There is something about talking out a concern that lifts burdens from the consciousness. You might not want any comment, to be fixed or corrected. To be heard with love and empathy is a great gift to receive.

People have so much they want to express, so if you can listen with presence and appreciation, you are offering a tremendous service to others. As a good listener, you will never be alone.

3. LEARNING

In my pre-teens, my father's work took him, my mother, younger sister and brother overseas for nearly three years. I was left behind in England where the education was considered better. I had a guardian to oversee me. I had one holiday a year with them.

What none of us could have anticipated was that I experienced such a depth of homesickness for my family that I resolved never to get close to anyone, in case they might leave me. Therein began a learning curve for my adult life, including dealing with loneliness.

Through learning, we enrich our lives. No challenge is without its blessing. Keep an open mind and learn all you can from your experiences, however difficult. What you learn may turn out to be a gift of the gods to others later.

4. LAUGHTER

One of the greatest connectors we have is laughter, as John Cleese explains in this video:

Laughter Clubs with John Cleese

Check out Laughter Yoga On this site, you can find a Laughter Club near you.

A friend of mine said recently about Laughter Clubs: What an incredible way to bring people together, feel connected, share a moment, release anger and get over yourself!

A couple of years ago, when I was going through a touch of the glums, I recalled this song. I still sing it to myself when I need to giggle.

Always look on the bright side of life

When the power of love
overcomes the love of power,
the world will know peace.

- Jimi Hendrix

Do you have any tips to share on how you banish loneliness? Who are the loners who inspire you? How do you see the power of love connecting others in the world around you? I would love to hear from you.

Please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me at anne@annenaylor.com


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