Earlier this year the UK appointed a Minister for Loneliness. My first thought when I heard this was – what a sad indictment on our society!
We often think it’s only the elderly who feel alone. We understand that old people might be physically unfit and stuck at home on their own. We can accept that their children will have grown up and moved away from their home town. But this loneliness epidemic is not owned by the old. In my role as a Life Coach, I’ve spoken to people of all ages who feel isolated and invisible in our modern world. In fact, I experienced this myself a few years ago.
When we moved to Australia we enjoyed being part of a vibrant primary school community, but when my two daughters started high school and became more independent, I felt less needed. Many of the school mums I was friendly with went back to work; my husband travelled overseas more often for his job and I was shocked at how lonely I felt during those long days.
Abraham Maslow shows us in his hierarchy of needs that once human beings have attained the basics for survival ie: food, shelter and safety, we then crave love and a sense of belonging because we are made for community.
Having studied human nature for years, I knew that all I needed to do was open my heart and mind, then start the process of creating the change I wanted in my life. So, I decided to set up a group for women in midlife who were seeking to reclaim their identity and find a new purpose in life. Making the decision to do this was easy, even talking about it wasn’t too hard, but the actual ‘doing’ stumped me.
My reptilian brain immediately went into fearful mode with negative self-talk shouting in my head: What if nobody comes along? You don’t really want the responsibility of organising gatherings, do you? Why bother? What will others say when they discover you’re lonely and lost? You’re ill-equipped to start something like this on your own… I gave into this negative thought pattern and procrastinated for ages. Staying safe in my comfort zone left me feeling stuck and very uncomfortable. Throughout all this time I was telling my girls to “be the change you want to see” and I felt guilty that I wasn’t practicing what I preached.
Then one morning I saw nabo.com.au advertised on TV. I’d never heard of this before and I thought it was a great idea. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I felt called to reach out and help others. I wanted to create a ladies’ group and here was a platform to help me do it! I was so excited. Scrolling through feeds on the internet later that same day, I saw this quote “If it’s to be, It’s up to me!” It only takes one person to start the ball rolling on any new project, and I knew this message was telling me it was my turn to act.
So, I took a deep breath, told my unconscious thoughts to be quiet, overcame procrastination with action, reached out on nabo.com.au and invited local ladies to join me at the community hall. I set the tone for this meeting to be an opportunity for us to support one another, share, learn and have a laugh. That was two years ago, and we have been meeting regularly ever since, with new ladies joining us all the time. What I didn’t know at that time was just how much this neighbourly gathering would positively impact my own life.
Some of my closest friends are women I met through this group. It was the best decision I ever made, I love it. I can’t imagine where I’d be now if I hadn’t taken that action. And a positive side effect is that this community has helped me to grow my business. These ladies asked me to share my coaching tools and techniques with them and teach them how to take back control of all areas of their life.
Building community requires openness, a willingness to change, a desire for things to be different and action! Nothing changes or improves if we don’t put time and effort into it. If you’re feeling a bit lost and lonely, don’t be afraid to admit it and let me encourage you to create something in your own local area. You won’t regret it, I promise.
Loneliness is worldwide, and no one is immune. We combat loneliness through genuine connection with others, and nabo.com.au knows this. You can help put a stop to loneliness now by reaching out to others. You will be pleasantly surprised because you will receive more than you ever give. If you don’t believe me, give it a try!
If you live near Manly Vale in Sydney and would like to join my Women’s Empowerment Group, I’ll welcome you with open arms. We meet once a month and at each gathering we offer something unique. In the past we’ve invited women who’ve overcome adversity, to share their personal story of survival; we’ve had experts teach us how to manage our money and invest for the future; how to look good at any age; how to keep fit and eat well plus much more. We always have tea, biscuits and a good chat afterwards.
If you’d like to find out more contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org