Loneliness is something that can be felt in so many ways, in so many situations. To be lonely doesn’t mean you just sit alone all day or that you have no friends. You could be in a room full of people, even a room full of your friends and family and you could still feel lonely as hell. I think the best way to describe loneliness would be when you feel like you’re on the outside looking in, like you somehow aren’t connected to those around you. The thing is, the more I learn and grow as a person, the more I realise that a lot of the loneliness I feel and have felt in the past is caused by me. It’s self-imposed, often caused by mental blockages in my own head. Over the past three months, I feel like I’ve changed so much as a person and I find myself relating to new people more and more, even strangers on the street. Here’s how I did it:
Okay so I’ll admit, I learned this from an acting exercise we did in class one day and I found it so helpful. Technically it’s an exercise to help you connect to another actor and have a shared sense of empathy, but I think you can do it with people in everyday life as well to establish a connection. So what you do is you pick a person, any person. It could be the cashier at a cafe, a person in your class you never talk to or even someone you don’t tend to get along with. You just have to know what they look like and have an image of them clearly in your mind.
You start by first imagining a painful event in your life or something bad that happened to you. Then you imagine that this person you’re thinking of either went through that exact same event as well, or that they are about to go through it. Literally the exact same details as what happened to you, imagine that happened or will happen to them as well. (PS- It’s better if you’re near the person when you do this by the way.)
All of a sudden (even though you know it’s not true) you get an immediate sense of empathy for that person and it’s like the next time you see them, you can almost see a bit of sadness in their eyes from what they’ve been through? You know logically that it’s not the exact same painful event as yours, but imagining this makes you feel so much more connected and energetically, it breaks down walls. I find doing this exercise makes me feel like I can all of a sudden relate to just about anyone. PSA: this very well could just be a weird actor thing that we do, and I know it sounds weird, but try it out.
I actually find it hilarious to observe how much adults revert back to a child-like state when they’re around their parents. It’s like we flick a switch when we go into the world and then when you’re in the comfort of your childhood home, all shits given go out the window and you can again be like a kid. If you’re having trouble relating to someone, imagine what they’re like when they’re at home with their parents. Imagine the inevitable household spats, imagine them getting annoyed at something one of their siblings said. Imagine their parents probing them about their job, or their kids, or when they’re going to find a partner. All of a sudden the walls between you and that person break down a lot more.
Remember back in high school when you thought you couldn’t ever be friends with someone who was more popular than you, or someone who had a really different friendship circie? Well, this is kind of like that. When you leave high school you drop all of that
crap nonsense, but somehow, somewhere, part of it stays. It might be that you have someone higher above you at work that you think you couldn’t possibly relate to. Maybe there’s someone who’s 10 years younger than you and you think nope, couldn’t possibly be friends with them. There are these blocks in our heads…but that’s where it stops- it’s all in our heads.
I have this friend who I started talking to one day, we had a lot of things in common and I really enjoyed being around her. I just naturally assumed she was somewhere around my age because we got along. Well, one day I asked and nope, turns out she’s 12 years older than me! I don’t know why, but if she’d have told me her age first I just would’ve thought that I couldn’t relate to her or that we wouldn’t get along, or that we wouldn’t be friends because of the age gap.
So the next time you’re having an issue like this, think about why it is that you don’t think you can relate to someone. Seriously question that, and break down any perceived barriers between you and that person, because they’re probably all in your head.
So even though we sometimes feel like we’re on the outside looking in, we’re not. I think we’re all more similar than you’d ever think.