I think you can feel lonely when you’re surrounded by a lot of people. My loneliest times were when I was in a dysfunctional relationship, and speaking for women, I think a woman feels most lonely when they don’t have a sense of self. So my work hones in on helping women to know who they are.
The upshot of not knowing yourself is not knowing how to make real decisions, not having a sense of direction or fulfilment, and that leads to a deep sense of loneliness whether you’re busy, whether you’re surrounded by people or not. That relationship with yourself is the starting point for everything.
“When you start downloading what’s in your brain and putting it onto paper, you start developing a sense of honesty with yourself”
How to deal with that is at the core of what I do. It’s complex and personal but there are simple things you can do to help you along the way. I think having a regular spiritual practice is really key to developing a relationship with yourself. Morning and evening rituals can really make a difference, but I think it’s important to find what works for you. Journaling, meditating, yoga – it’s not a question of doing what someone else tells you, but what feels right for you whether it’s everyday or every couple of days.
Journalling is great because when you start downloading what’s in your brain and putting it onto paper, you start developing a sense of honesty with yourself. When it’s all caught and trapped in your head you can’t identity feelings and thoughts because it’s all muddled and looped and we tend to just feel our thoughts. If you don’t identify those feelings, then the tendency is to feel overwhelmed, panicked and maybe even lonely and trapped.
Meditation can also be really helpful. If you’re starting out for the first time then you can follow guided visualisations – there’s a lot of people out there providing meditations about connecting to your true self – I have one too! Meditation can be a real game changer – just 10 or 15 minutes a day and it gives you a sense that you’re doing something for yourself, which is really helpful in connecting to yourself.
Having a coach is a wonderful thing as well. I have a coach who’s an extremely helpful guide to keep me on track. One of the things she asks is ‘have you performed your morning and evening rituals’. I think this is a really important thing to think about when you’re finding the right routes for you.
“The ‘shoulding’ stops us”
The good girl in us says you ‘should’ do things – you should have your green smoothie, you should journal or you should meditate, but the ‘shoulding’ stops us. Find the things that make you feel good – for me I mentally check in with myself in the morning and feel what I need, whether that’s meditating, going to yoga, going for a run – it doesn’t have to be the same thing everyday. You need to find what’s right for you.
All of us, if we think about it, will know something that we do that makes us feel like time disappears and we’re connected to ourselves. It might be cooking, walking on the beach or painting – I started with journaling when I was 12, and now that I look back on it, it just came naturally. If you give yourself the time to do that regularly it makes you feel good, it’s a relationship for yourself and where that leads is a very exciting thing.