counseling, forgiveness, loneliness, lonely, psychology, relationshipadvice, relationships, resentment, self-help

Loneliness: Do You Ever Feel Lonely?

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What do you believe makes us happiest and most content in life?

Some people might say money and success. Accomplishments and material possessions. Fame and fortune.

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Research shows this is not true. True joy and fulfillment comes from good relationships and feeling connected.

Loneliness is at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Loneliness is an emotional state we have when we feel disconnected. Our need for connection is ingrained in our DNA. Loneliness is a signal that something is not right. 

People have a fundamental need for inclusion, to be part of social circles, and for close relationships. We function best when our social needs are being met.

As someone who works in mental health, feeling lonely is a common experience that people report to me. I always ask clients if they feel lonely during our initial session. Nine times out of ten the answer is YES. I truly believe loneliness in our country is on the rise and may be the next public health crisis (if it isn’t already).

If you haven’t suffered from it, I guarantee you someone in your life has.

In this technological age, people are feeling more disconnected than ever from their fellow man.The feeling of loneliness or being detached from others is not just a human emotion; it is a complex emotional response to a multitude of factors.

Loneliness a universal human emotion that is both complex and unique to each individual. Because it has no single common cause, the prevention and treatment of this potentially damaging state of mind can vary greatly.

Loneliness represents a fundamental discrepancy between the relationships we have and the relationships we want.

Loneliness is a serious issue, as it can lead to despair and depression. It is often an emotion experienced by people who end up committing suicide. In my humble opinion, if I had to pick one thing that is key to living a happy life,  I’d say: strong, close bonds with other people.

The hardest times in my life have been overcome by the close bonds I have with my family and friends. The happiest times of my life have been THAT much more joyful because I was surrounded by the very same people. Connecting with others is a strong psychological need and is fundamental to our well-being.

Research shows loneliness can be more deadly than smoking or obesity. It can lead to a whole host of physical ailments. Loneliness does not harm just the mind but the body. Emotional pain lights up the same part of our brain as physical pain. An insult can feel just as painful as getting your hand slammed in the door.

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When someone says you broke my heart it is not just an expression. Emotional pain hurts. LONELINESS IS PAINFUL.

Loneliness is a state of mind. It is distinct from being alone which is a choice. Many people love to be alone–some people say they find solace in solitude, do their best work in solitude. Being alone is not synonymous with being lonely. We can be surrounded by people yet still feel quite lonely.

Loneliness is a silent killer. It is an epidemic. People, at alarming rates, are reporting being lonely. I think the nature of relationships has changed in the last couple decades and we have failed to adapt. We live in this “always on” society. We are always connected digitally but failing to connect emotionally.

The lack of empathy in our society is alarming. Many people unless forced to empathize will unfortunately simply not do it. Most likely because being empathetic requires being vulnerable. Being vulnerable opens us up to being hurt and judged. Therefore, for many being vulnerable is too great a risk to their emotional and psychological well-being.

Yet the cost of this lack of vulnerability and empathy…is loneliness.

The reality is we need to be able to connect and empathize with others to be truly happy and fulfilled. We need to expand our capacity for kindness and compassion to overcome said loneliness.

One key — maybe the key — to happiness is strong connections to other people.

What are some signs you may be lonely?

~Irregular sleep: sleeping too much, too little, or struggling with falling asleep

~Low-grade, chronic anger and feelings of resentment

~Change is eating: eating too much or too little

~Being addicted to your phone

~You get sick frequently–every cold, every virus

~Shopping alot

~You spend time with other lonely people

~You are constantly tired

~You feel depressed

~You are drinking more or self-medicating in one form or another

~Taking long showers

~You blow things out of proportion

If you read the aforementioned, and you are thinking, “Yes, I AM lonely — so now what can I do to change it?”

1.Help others — teaching, volunteering, caring for children, aging parents, or animals — all helps to mitigate loneliness. These are also suggestions I give my clients suffering from depression–to try to shift your focus from self to serving others in some capacity. It can do wonders for many common mental health ailments. Helping others can also alleviate feelings of loneliness. Prioritize and ritualize connecting with others.

2.Try to figure out what’s missing from your life. Do you have close friends? Are you close with certain family members? I am talking about genuine closeness where you talk about feelings and emotions, not just physical closeness. Are you and your partner communicating outside of the superficial?  Do you feel you contribute to the world and society? Do you have something outside of yourself you derive meaning from? Think long and hard about what you feel is missing from your life. The more clearly you understand what’s missing, the more clearly you’ll see possible solutions.

3.Be positive and open-minded. Are you struggling with negative emotions? Negative emotions like judgement, anger, envy, ultra-competitiveness, jealousy, guilt, resentment are all are warning signs something needs to change in your life. These emotions also hinder your ability to connect with others. People can pick up on your negativity and will steer clear. Loneliness in and of itself can make people feel more critical, jealous, judgemental, and negative. If you recognize that your loneliness may be affecting you in this manner, you can take steps to counter it. Counseling might be a great place to start the journey to overcoming your negative emotions and feelings of loneliness.

4.Ask yourself, “How am I relating to others?” Are you communicating to others you are a safe, trustworthy person to connect with? Are you judgemental and negative? Are you respectful of differences? Are you open to building close bonds with others or do you feel other people are not to be trusted? Do you look at other people as kind and warm or selfish and cold? How you view others is an important part of this process. Do you do your part in reaching out to others? Are you scared to put yourself out there? Take time to reflect on your self-defeating thoughts. Remember we all eventually reap what we sow in our relationships.

5.Learn to be at ease with yourself. Accept yourself. The good,the bad, and the ugly. Stop running from your perceived faults and shortcomings. Some people spend their whole life in non-acceptance of their whole self. If you live your life this way, you will inevitably feel lonely. You will not be at ease in your own skin. If you cannot accept all of you, it will lead you to feel you NEED others. Loneliness will follow suit.

6.Check your ego at the door. The ego always lead you to feel lonely. Do you find you feel superior to others? Or inferior to others? Two sides of the same coin both of which will ensure loneliness. When we feel lonely, we tend to blame external factors including other people. The best way to stop feeling lonely in your life and relationships is to examine your thoughts and world view. Is your ego in the driver’s seat? An out of control ego coincides with feeling “separate” from others and life itself. The very nature of the ego is separation. Our ego drives us to be very isolated. In order to be connected with need to be seen, heard, and valued. In order to feel this way, we need to be capable of making OTHERS feel seen, heard, and valued. It is a two-way street. If your ego is in the driver’s seat, you will almost certainly struggle with loneliness for as long as that is the case, you will not be capable of truly seeing, hearing, and valuing others.

I truly believe we can change this trend in loneliness. But first we need to figure out a way to address this growing empathy gap in our society.

Try asking someone how they are doing. Be brave and put yourself out there. But remember people can only meet you as deeply as they meet themselves.

No matter who you are, you’ve probably experienced the depths of loneliness at some point in your life. If you are feeling lonely, remember, this too shall pass. If you are willing to do your part. It’s no wonder that loneliness can be an unhappy feeling, because most people enjoy other people’s company, and feeling connected with those who are important in our lives. Addressing your loneliness could be the key to unleashing your healthy mind.

I believe with a little ingenuity we can all have the relationships we want and need.

To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):

https://anewcounselingservices.com/erin-theodorou%2Cm-ed-%2C-lpc

Anew Counseling Services LLC

617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649

(551) 795-3822
etheodorou@anewcounselingservices.com

 

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counseling, psychology, resentment, self-help

Dislike vs. Hatred: Why We Feel These Emotions Towards Others

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Why do certain people irritate us or rub us wrong while others don’t?

You can be the most loving, kind, down to earth, open-minded person on the planet and STILL get extremely annoyed by certain people.

There are billions of us on the planet. The fact is we are not going to get along with everyone.

I can remember years ago studying Carl Jung who famously said, “Everything that irritates us about another can lead up to an understanding of ourselves.”

This may be a tough idea to get behind for many of us. For instance, if we don’t care for someone who is selfish, we wouldn’t think we dislike this individual because we, ourselves, are in fact selfish.

Yet Jung purported that if you are open enough to the idea, what you dislike about others, can teach you about yourself.

I think it is easier to apply this when the shoe is on the other foot. What I mean by this is it is easier to apply this theory when other people project their negative qualities onto us instead of when we are projecting our negative qualities onto someone else. I remember a couple of times in my past when people projected onto me the qualities that were in fact their own. Before I was trained as a psychotherapist, in all likelihood I  would have reacted. Being in this profession, I am cognizant of when someone is projecting and knowing this, I feel no need to react to it.

There is no need to react or defend ourselves against other people’s projections. Those projections are theirs. We do not need to OWN other people’s stuff.

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Usually when someone is projecting, they are trying to offload their negative qualities onto you.

Thus when someone is dumping their disowned feeling on you, if you are conscious enough, you cease the need to react at all.

The fact is everyone is your mirror. 

According to Jung, we all have a shadow self.

The shadow is irrational, prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognized as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else (Jung).

Our shadow is an innate part of ALL of us, yet the vast majority of us are blind to its existence. 
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Many of us do our best to hide our negative qualities, not only from others but from ourselves. Thus we often criticize and condemn others to ensure the focus does not fall our destructive tendencies and fault. 

Many of us are only conscious of our persona. The persona is the social mask we as individuals present to the world. It is the public image of someone.

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Underneath the mask we show to the world, our shadow remains unconscious and can wreak havoc in our life.

The Shadow is all the thoughts and emotions we repress as being socially inappropriate. Rage, envy, jealousy, schadenfreude (the pleasure we derive from another person’s misfortune).  This is all shadow material.  The more we repress shadow material, the more of a hold it has on us.

But what about if we are talking about people we don’t merely dislike but people we hate?

See when we dislike someone, we simply avoid this person. We don’t feel the need to rage about them, yell at them, fixate on them. We do not want to get into a back and forth with them. Dislike suffices. We just move on with our life and limit our contact with this person as much as humanly possible.

Hatred is a whole other animal. Hate often arises because we see another as an “enemy.” In this enemy we see a part of ourselves we hate. Yet whatever we hate about our “enemy” can be explained by simple fact: they trigger dormant feelings of shame and inferiority.

The more insecure you are, the more you feel attacked by others, regardless of whether they are in actual attacking you or not.

How insecure you are will play a factor in whether you merely dislike someone or if you hate them.

Dislike vs. Hatred

Let us differentiate between mere dislike and hatred. When you dislike someone, you rather NOT be around them. You do not want to interact with them because it is unpleasant. You do not wish ILL on this person and if anything you feel apathetic for them. Many you even pity them because you recognize how unhappy and miserable they are by their behavior. When you dislike someone, you don’t care to give them much thought or energy.

Disliking people is normal throughout life. Yet for the most part, we are going to be neutral or people. We will not like them NOR dislike them.

Hatred, on the other hand, means you consider a person an enemy and a threat. Thus you are invested in their destruction. You wish ill on them and want to see them destroyed.

When you hate someone:

~you obsess over them. You will gossip and smear them to anyone who listens. You cannot let go of what they said or did.

~you feel good when something bad happens to them. If something good happens to them, you try to minimize it or dismiss it.

~you try to convince others of how horrible and evil this person is. You think people must know the “truth” about him or her. You desperately seek confirmation from others about how horrible this person is.

Long story short, the difference between hatred and dislike is the former involves time and effort while the latter involves apathy.

Personally, I have people I dislike but hatred to me is not something I allow myself to engage in because I am conscious of the fact it would just make ME miserable and unhappy. It also takes WAY too much energy and time to hate someone (and who has that?!) It destroys the person who feels it not the target of contempt and disdain. I believe is certain situations we all are capable of feeling hatred towards another person in passing but this emotion is not a fixture in our lives.

In psychologically unhealthy people, hatred may be felt by anyone who dare challenges their worldview or opinions (any famous figures coming to mind?!)

When you hate someone you feel compelled to verbally spar with them not because you want to win but you don’t want to lose. (Once again, people we hate trigger in us shame and inferiority). A person you just dislike, you don’t care to get into it with them. To you, it isn’t worth the energy. If you dislike someone, you aren’t being triggered by shame and inferiority. The person’s behavior just rubs you wrong (maybe they are in fact just obnoxious). And hey, if Jung has taught us anything, it is that we TOO can be obnoxious and rub people wrong!

Although most people would never acknowledge it, people who hate other people generally hate someone who they feel threatened by or triggers their feelings of inferiority.

You usually hate someone who exposes or highlights your issues, baggage, and insecurities. 

If you hate someone, you feel that this person is trying to expose your flaws to the world. Hatred is a very irrational emotion. The fact is most people are not interested in exposing your flaws (unless they are abusive or a bully). Most of us are just trying to hide our own flaws.

Hatred is a slippery slope. It is not wrong to get threatened or angry with other people, yet in taking it to the level of hatred, you are dwelling and ruminating on your own hate.

If we hate someone, we feel they are diminishing us. If you feel this emotion, it is time to begin the process of release.

Counseling may be a good place to start to weaken the grasp this toxic emotion has on you.

Hate will not go away on its own. You need to actively work at releasing its toxic hold on you.

Hate makes us want to fight. Dislike makes us want to not engage.

Hate makes us irrational. Dislike makes us rationalize.

Hate makes us want to smear the person to ANYONE who will listen. Dislike makes us not even care to mention the person’s name because they aren’t on our mind.

Hate makes us want to seek revenge. Dislike makes us avoid the unpleasantness of dealing with this individual.

It is possible to move from hatred to dislike.

Release the judgements.

Move on with your own life.

Being compassionate can mean walking away without saying ANYTHING. Often no answer is the best answer.

When we are at peace with ourselves, we stop being at war with others.

To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):

https://anewcounselingservices.com/erin-theodorou%2Cm-ed-%2C-lpc

Anew Counseling Services LLC

617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649

(551) 795-3822
tamanna@anewcounselingservices.com

 

counseling, forgiveness, psychology, resentment, self-help

Forgiveness is Not Reconciliation

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Let’s say you have been WRONGED.

By your close friend, coworker, child, parent, spouse, or WHOEVER this person may be.

You had trusted them.

You counted on them.

They let you down.

They hurt you.

Now the pain flows through your body..

You didn’t deserve this.  It wasn’t your fault.

Anger, resentment, bitterness floods your mind, body, and emotions.

Now I ask…

CAN YOU FORGIVE?

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Forgiveness…it is something that many of us struggle with.

It is a topic many have strong opinions on.

I believe there to be many false beliefs about what forgiveness IS and IS NOT.

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One common misconception is people equate forgiveness with reconciliation.

Another fallacy is people think they need an apology in order to forgive.

Other people feel they cannot forgive because they cannot forget the wrongdoing.

Some of us do not want to forgive because we do not want to let the offender off the hook.

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Forgiveness is often misunderstood.

We hold the mistaken assumption that forgiving someone requires that we make up with whoever it is that hurt us. This is not forgiveness.

That is reconciliation.

You can forgive someone and not reconcile with them.

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Too often we carry into our adult life the simplistic understanding of forgiveness from childhood. When we are children, we think if we forgave someone we automatically were “friends” with them again. Forgiveness meant no more “bad feelings” and the person was welcome back into our life exactly the way it was before.

Forgiveness is not that simple. It is not that black and white.

We can forgive someone and not want them back in our life. Or forgive them and not want them back in our life in the same capacity.

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Forgiving is NOT weakness. It takes incredible strength to let go of an injustice and allow yourself to move on.

When you forgive, it does not mean forgetting or pretending something didn’t happen.

Forgiveness is not condoning or excusing bad behavior.

Most importantly, forgiveness is NOT reconciling. 

We can forgive an offender without reestablishing the relationship.

There are people in my life I have forgiven but who are NOT a part of my life. There are people I have forgiven who ARE a part of my life but not necessarily in the same magnitude as before. Forgiveness and subsequent reconciliation are quite circumstantial. The future of the relationship depends on many moving parts. All the same, forgiveness is ALWAYS for us–it is letting go of the anger, hurt, and negative emotions that follows from being wronged or betrayed.

Resentment hurts you more than those you resent. Why would you want to give someone who wronged you that type of power over you?

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Holding onto resentment is a very isolating space to put yourself in. While you are focusing on the past, everyone else in the situation is moving on with their lives.

Holding onto anger and bitterness can cause problems of their own accord–for you, not the offender.

Being able to forgive is a crucial part of healing.

When you forgive, you process and work through the hurt so you do not need to carry around the pain.

Holding onto pain, anger, and hurt only causes you heartache. It does not cause pain for the person who hurt you.

Reconciliation is an interpersonal process—-you have a dialogue with the offender about what happened, discuss your perspectives, explore the feelings of hurt, listen for remorse, and start the process or reestablishing trust.

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Reconciliation is a collaborative process. It involves the offending party admitting they did something wrong or harmful to you, showing remorse for what was done, taking ownership of the behavior, and seeking forgiveness. You cannot reconcile with someone who cannot participate in this process.

REMEMBER: Reconciliation is not possible if YOU are NOT willing to forgive AND the other person does NOT show remorse nor want to right their wrong.

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As you can see forgiveness and reconciliation are related but different processes.

Forgiveness does not require the offender to do ANYTHING.

REMEMEBER: You cannot forgive someone until you process the pain caused to you. You cannot forgive until you ACCEPT and are at peace with what happened.

Forgiveness is a freeing feeling.

I forgive because I want to be forgiven. I forgive because I do not want to carry the weight of someone else’s wrongs throughout my life. Anger and resentment are too heavy of a burden to bear.

We can forgive people who we don’t see anymore. We can forgive someone who feels zero remorse and will never apologize. We can even forgive someone who is dead.

Forgiveness does not require apologies. Or the other person to be involved.

Reconciliation requires the offender to participate. Forgiveness does not.

It is easier to forgive when someone apologizes and takes responsibility for their actions. However, many people are incapable of apologizing (whether due to reasons such as pride or a pervasive personality disorder or fear of being vulnerable). What we need to realize is we do not need the offender to apologize or take responsiblity to forgive.

Now in reconciling this is a different case. It will be hard, if not impossible, to rebuild a relationship with someone who does not take responsibility for their actions and cannot apologize for doing wrong.  You may not be able to reconcile with someone if this is the case. This is also out of your control.

But you can forgive them.

Forgiveness is in your control. It requires nothing from the person who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn’t equal reconciliation.

For our own mental well-being, we should forgive those who transgress against us. It doesn’t necessarily mean we should welcome them back into our life.

Forgiveness is NOT letting the offender off the hook. Forgiving is unhooking us from the offender and their offenses.

Reconciliation is when you take a damaged relationship and begin the process of healing it. If done right, the relationship can be stronger than ever.

One person can forgive yet it takes two people to reconcile.

REMEMBER: Forgiveness is on me. Reconciliation is on us.

Too often we hold off on granting forgiveness until the other person apologize. Or changes. Or recognizes what they did wrong.

But people only change if they want to. You cannot force people to have empathy or feel compassion. Or respect you. Or admit they were wrong or apologize. Only they have the power to change their perspective. Often, this is not going to happen.

I have realized sometimes people are just evil and mean-spirited. And there is nothing I can do about it.

Forgiveness is an inward process for my own well-being. Reconciliation is an outward process which requires all parties to want to reconcile.

Forgiveness also helps us grow in compassion. If we are at peace with ourselves, we do not feel the need to spew venom at others or hurt other people.

Recognizing the pain and unhappiness in the people who hurt us helps us to grant forgiveness.

A strategy I give clients to ease the pain of the past is to reflect on what must have been going on from the offender’s perspective to wrong you. Happy, well-balanced people do not intentionally hurt others.

Trying to be empathetic and recognize the deep rage, fear, and unhappiness that drives others to hurt people can loosen the grip of negative emotions holding you back.

Granting forgiveness will take the weight of pain and hurt off your shoulders. It is psychologically preferable to holding a grudge because bitterness works as a mental poison to you.

You do not need to stay chained to them. Forgiveness frees you and allows you to move on.

If someone is causing you unhappiness seriously ask yourself: Does this person respect me? Do they feel empathy and compassion (for me or ANYONE for that matter)? Is this person capable of REALISTICALLY seeing themselves? Of realistically seeing others? Sadly, the answer may be no.

When we forgive, we unburden ourselves from the hold of resentment, grudges, and seeking revenge. We do this for ourselves NOT for the other person.

We do not have to like the wrongdoer or ever see them again.

Forgiveness is to free the person who hurt us from our mind, heart, and soul.

We do not allow them to take up space anymore in our life–physically or mentally.

You have been mistreated and you DESERVE peace of mind.

Forgiveness is vital to moving on. It is ALWAYS your choice…yours alone.

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Have you been hurt by someone you love? Have you forgiven them?

To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):

https://anewcounselingservices.com/erin-theodorou%2Cm-ed-%2C-lpc

Anew Counseling Services LLC

617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649

(551) 795-3822
tamanna@anewcounselingservices.com