It helps to first understand why do we feel lonely?
Loneliness is an emotional response to isolation. Usually unpleasant.
Makes us feel anxious about not being connected with other human beings - either in the present or in the future.
One would think that being around other people would help curb loneliness. But it's complex. We may feel lonely even when surrounded by other people.
Like this past Christmas weekend. I was taking an evening walk in the neighborhood park. Neon lights lit up the sky. Kids were shouting out loud in the rides.
But as I walked around in circles, I kind of felt disconnected from the world.
We all have puzzles in life we're working to solve. I was well aware of the one keeping me busy during that moment.
What could I do to not feel the way I was feeling?
Those emotions of emptiness even with a gratitude practice in place.
So next morning, the day before Christmas, I did an experiment.
Picked up the phone and called Alberto in Italy. Call #1 connected.
He's a member of my inner circle i.e., someone, I trust and can be vulnerable with.
Within 3 min into our talk, I was feeling super energized. We ended up talking for 17 min; syncing each other of our present life and what we were up to in 2018.
Then I called Roy in Portland, Oregon. Call #2 connected.
"Hey Roy... I was feeling a bit lonely this morning. It's Christmas time. My housemate is out with his partner's family. But I got to chat with my buddy Alberto out of Italy. Now I'm feeling much better. But hey.. I thought I might as well talk to you too."
After the end of this call, I was on cloud 9. Felt like life is so beautiful. Made 2 more calls that day to Antonis (in Cincinnati, OH) and Utkarsh (in Bangalore, India).
The hypothesis of my 'How to Overcome Loneliness' experiment was -if I can quickly connect with a person in my life whom I trust, and begin talking to them, loneliness will disappear within the 3 min mark.
The conclusion from the experiment was -
- When you feel lonely, pick up the damn phone and call someone you trust. Be vulnerable to them that you were feeling lonely so you called them.
- Don't text. Call. Preferably video call. Communicate using all your senses. That helps the brain to wake up.
My brain has taken note of that. Now I can call out my BS if I still feel lonely because there are 10+ people in my inner circle I can call anytime with at least 1 connect.
There's also the 2nd side to the conclusion I found -
- All this time, I was doing loneliness and not feeling it. By isolating myself from people I trust, I was doing loneliness.
Now, this is not a placebo-controlled double-blind experiment. I'm a data point of one. Your mileage may vary.
But maybe if you're still reading this, you're feeling lonely?
How about you pick up the phone and call a couple of your friends whom you trust.
If nobody picks up your phone, here's my number (+1.513.223.1217), call me maybe?
Image Source: Sasha Freemind
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