September 1, 2019

39. Loneliness Kills Hope

How often do you come across a man who has lost that spark, lost that sense of life, they’ve lost that kind of bounce?

Many people are stuck, and there’s a sense of, “I’m not going to cope, I cannot cope, I’m going to run away”. And there’s a real sense of being on their own.

In a world where we’re more connected than we’ve ever been, through things like social media and yet it doesn’t cut it. Social media doesn’t give you the human connection that comes from being face-to-face with someone, or walking the walk with someone, and going through life’s journey with someone. And if you end up being too much on your own, you can wallow in self-pity and just get stuck in where you are.

Sure most of us in our lives, for one reason or another, have got to a point where maybe we’ve realised, geeze, “I’m lonely. I’ve got no one around me”. That is so natural and just a part of life.

There’s many causes, you know, like moving cities, maybe a break up in a relationship, maybe you’re working really, really hard or maybe you’ve got a young family and there’s just so many commitments in your life right now that you look around and go, “Geeze, I haven’t seen a mate or I haven’t been involved in anything for six months”. It is so easy to drift away from your circle of friends when life is busy or you are in a strange situation in whatever form that takes.

So very, very often, it’s like a topic we did a few months ago, we talked about grieving and when you grieve you’ve actually lost something. So often when you lose something, whether it be your health, a relationship, a job, you can feel lonely. You’re on your own in that particular space. And in its worst case, you can feel really down, it can be a depressive time. Okay? So, it can be very, very serious. And at that time, the inner tapes play. It’s poor, poor me, you know? It’s unfair. I’m doing it tough!

When those inner tapes play, they can really become overwhelming and they can get a hold of you with a firm grip and it’s really hard to get away. What we’re looking for, though, is a return to some level of connection. To something away from home life as well. Like, the relationships at home are vital. But it is even possible to be lonely within the walls of your own house if the relationships aren’t strong, and that’s even worse – that’s even harder.

So we’re looking for those really strong connections. And there’s an interesting thing here, and we’ve seen it a lot in elite sport, when guys leave elite sport and they really struggle, this is very well documented now.

One of the main reasons is, they’ve lost that sense of connection. They go from every day being part of a tribe, a real strong culture where there’s mates around them all the time, heaps of laughter, they’re sharing a journey and all of a sudden they’re on their own. Now, there’s other factors involved as well, like being ready for life after sport and just being in the zone regularly, but if you’ve been part of a tribe in your life and you know what it means, a sporting club, that chess club, whatever it is you’re into, your musical band, even going and having a regular game of trivia with your mates at the pub once a month or something, these things are about being a part of something.

And so there’s an isolation from key people in your life that are guides or just good mates. And there’s also an isolation from being a part of something that’s big and making yourself feel like you belong to something.

That sense of connection, belonging, is a really important part of this. The other part of it too is, a sense of meaning, a sense of what’s the purpose? We all need meaning, we all need to have a sense of, “I’m an important, I actually belong, but I’ve got a purpose. I’ve got a particular meaning”. And some of us, when we lose health, relationship, work, all those different sorts of things, we can lose our sense of meaning and sense of purpose. And then, we lose hope.

This doesn’t mean that you’re in a world of complete depression or pain. It could just mean that you’ve been going along on life’s treadmill for six months and didn’t see anyone. And as a result, you’ve lost that extra energy that comes from being connected to people or a part of a tribe.

And sometimes within all of this, you can have a sense of, it’s really a mediocre time, it’s kinda like a blah time, you don’t feel challenged, you’ve lost a bit of a spark, there’s something going on and the result of that – you feel down and you just feel a little bit lonely.

But, there’s hope! And that hope always starts with a choice!

This is most important and if you’re finding yourself, perhaps a bit isolated or a bit lonely, then the very first thing you do is ask yourself, “What’s the first thing I can do? Is there an old mate I can call up and arrange to go for a beer? Is there an old sporting club I was a part of or one that I’d like to join? Is there a club like Universal Man that’s full of fantastic blokes out there who wanna just have a good time and learn and be with each other?”

There’s got to be a choice to begin and reconnect with the world outside, and then I’m just gonna say like, the most important thing now is, if you’re in a family or a relationship or life’s very, very busy, you might need to come up with a way of gaining a win / win with your partner, a kind of to and fro where you go once a month and connect with friends and they go once a month to spend time together and reconnect with their friends. Greg and his wife do that, and it’s a really good way of staying connected with our friends.

So the first step in this whole thing is, when you’re claiming life again, you’re claiming hope again, is a simple, deliberate choice. You’re in this space, and you make the very simple choice, and the choice has to be outwards. It’s away from me and from self-pity. It’s away from victim talk, and it’s a reaching out. Now, whether it’s a reaching out to a particular tribe, to a particular friend, to your partner, if it’s giving and you volunteer, it’s going to the gym, it doesn’t matter what it is, what’s key is you go from where you are and you go out. Out to give, to find meaning and to find purpose.

On that point of giving. Maybe if you haven’t been out and doing this for a while, the most important thing to remember is, in re-entering a connection with someone or a tribe, the most important thing is just to give and not count the cost. The world will pay you back in one way or another. But just even a random act of giving to a cause or helping someone out, that’s gonna make you feel so much better about yourself. And you’ll even find, sometimes when you go and help another friend out, and you reached out to them because you needed to talk to someone, you end up talking about their bloody problems the whole time, you know what, I bet you walk away feeling better about yourself and your own problems seem insignificant.

Because the focus is no longer on me, me, me, me, me. I’m not going back inward, I’m actually looking out. The old Nike thing, just do it. Okay? And you mightn’t feel great immediately, but it’s a sense of “Okay, I’m getting my energy, I’m reaching out”, and then hope sneaks up on you. So I reckon it’s a real choice, but in this whole choosing stuff, you don’t go looking for big, big things. Okay? It could be really, really simple. And the choices of who you spend your time with, because some of the people, like, you can be around a whole group of people and you’re marching to their particular drum. And as a result of that, you’ve lost a sense of purpose, you’ve lost a sense of meaning because it’s their voice, their drum. So they are actually not helping you build you. So when you just choose, “Hey no, I’m gonna be me. I want to walk to my own drum. I’m gonna seek a different tribe”, that’s when things begin to happen.

Here’s a great challenge for all of us, and that is, over the next, let’s say one week. How about every single one of us do one thing to reconnect and beat loneliness. And there’s two options. One is to find a new club or a sporting team or something that you can be a part of, whatever it is. I don’t care if it’s a band or you go and learn some art in an art class, reconnect with the world and find a tribe that suits you. Another is just to choose a RAK; a random act of kindness – and just do something simple for someone else – no strings attached.

It isn’t always easy. The number of times within Pricey’s life where he will phone up someone and almost immediately the person says, “Okay, Pricey, what do you want?”, because he’s always looking for some sort of favour. Just to ring up someone for no purpose, other than to say, “G’day”. And it’s the good old racket, it’s a random act of kindness, but it’s got to be deliberate and simple. Just get out and move out.

You’ve got a friend out there that is battling and you know it, right? Get on a call. Call em’ up and say, “Hey mate, let’s go for a coffee or a beer. Let’s get out of home, let’s go and have a yarn”, and you don’t even have to talk about their problems. You can talk about the footy or whatever else that interests you. That’s alright. But just get away from it all, have a yarn and reconnect with someone and it would mean the world to them. So that’s our challenge. Everyone to do one thing in the next week.

So we began by saying, “Loneliness kills our hope”. But we are convinced that when you make the choice to then move out, when you march to your own drum, when you’re looking for your purpose and your meaning, you’re gonna find life. Connection gives life and that life has hope!