A Sure Cure for Loneliness

Dear Springboard:

As we’re getting into the holiday season, there have already been some invitation-only group lunches here at work.

Just last week, a group of people (most of whom were my peers before I was promoted) came back to the office laughing and in good spirits – honestly, looking more connected to each other.

Not included, I felt left out and it hurt.  I’ve heard the old saw about it being lonely at the top, but I don’t feel I’m so senior as to be left out.

Feeling Apart From

Dear FAF:

I expect you understand it’s not unusual for a staff to want to socialize without their boss.  It’s a different, more relaxed vibe.

That said, if you want more connections, I suggest you initiate and organize a lunch or drinks after work for your staff.  It’s understandable you miss some of those old relationships.

Also, you might initiate a social gathering for your new peer group. Part of being successful in a new role is to stay focused on where you are and build relationships there.

At this time of year with Thanksgiving approaching, we hear a lot about thankfulness and gratitude.  These messages often feel very passive to me.

I want to point your attention in a different direction.

Holidays can be a tough time for many people.  It’s easy to have idealized fantasies of what the holidays should be for us and when we compare our own experience with the visible merry making of others, we come up short.

We live with this same dynamic on social media.  Others’ carefully curated posts look enviously appealing and they can be more than a little deflating.  It’s been widely reported that our emphasis on our digital lives has shortchanged our face-to-face relationships.

This makes me think of how prevalent loneliness is, especially during the holiday season.  It’s enough of an issue that the UK government has created a new role – the Minister of Loneliness.

The irony of our digital world is that we are more connected than ever (in a disembodied way online) and we are also less connected in what is now called – In Real Life.

In your family visits, resist the temptation to find refuge in your phone or tablet.

And, if I may, I’d like to suggest how you can take advantage of the holiday gatherings to put gratitude into action.

Connect with someone (it might be just one person) at each social event and be genuinely interested in hearing how they are.

Get curious and – with judgment aside – appreciate who they are, as they are.

Don’t let it become a chore.

Make it light and fun.

If this feels daunting, one way in is to ask about family stories.  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported on the many benefits of (re)telling and hearing familiar family lore. Click here for the whole piece.

You may be surprised that in the process of trying to be comforting, you may fill something within you, making these interactions more meaningful than you expect.

 From the Watercooler


Grateful for a quiet mind and a loving heart.

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