What If We Stopped Calling Each Other ‘Stupid’?

One thing I have noticed people doing especially on social media is creating a lot of distance and disconnection by chronically referring to anyone that doesn’t believe as we do ‘stupid’.  I have caught myself doing this too.

‘They’ are ‘stupid’ for not believing wearing masks is the answer.  They are ‘stupid’ for wearing masks all the time.  The are stupid for thinking a vaccine will help this.  They are stupid for not wanting to get vaccinated.  They are stupid for relying on the medical establishment or stupid for looking for alternative or natural treatments for this virus, etc.

There is an unbelievable amount of information out there in the universe of the world wide web, for good or for naught.  Do we believe that only we have the ability to sort through it all and come up with ‘the truth’ or might it be possible that others could read what we read or different things and come up with another truth?  Not everything is fake news and much medical information is not in agreement or changes based on one study vs. another.

The best thing I saw recently was a post by someone facetiously wondering why the ‘rules’ aren’t clear yet and then proceeding to point out all the ‘rules’ and then the ‘exceptions’ as also stated by trusted ‘authorities.’  It came down to ‘this is the right thing, unless it isn’t.’   That pretty much summed it up for me.

I haven’t been surprised at all the disagreement among health professionals and researchers as to prevention, treatment and public policy around this virus.  That’s just the way it is, even when you are looking at the physical body.  There are always medical professionals trying different and novel treatments.  That’s how medical knowledge ends up on the cutting edge in addition to controlled research.  There is plenty of evidence that research is influenced by who is paying for it so we must always be a bit skeptical and ‘follow the money’ as they say before we sink our teeth into believing just one thing or another.

I’m always amazed that people can learn something either by their own reading or study and then become completely closed to new information.  It seems then that they believe no one else could possibly do the same thing and come to a different conclusion.  This is not good for us or humanity or our connection to each other.  It makes us so strident that we can’t even have a conversation without the word ‘stupid’ popping into our brain or out of our mouth.

I wonder what would happen to our fear level if we just stopped calling each other stupid and started saying, “May they be free from fear and be well.’

Where does calling someone ‘stupid’ get you?  Why do you think you or others might do it?  I suggest it is a way to manage fear.  If you KNOW the right solution, you feel a sense of control and that falsely makes us less fearful.  However, the next ‘new’ piece to the puzzle that is the ever-changing world of medical knowledge will convince you to fear something else that’s new and not in your control.

Giving up a sense of control when it gets out of control is the least stressful thing I can think of to do.  Not creating disconnection between ourselves and our loved ones or fellow humans is the next best thing.  We NEED each other and when push comes to shove, who was right about the latest moving target of truth is not going to matter because the next challenge is coming up right behind you and we will all need someone to hold us up.

I think of it as a tsunami wave.  The wave of new information, new threats to us and the planet just keep coming.  We don’t know how much water is behind the first rush and we will need to lift each other up to safety.  If one guy tries to grab onto a tree branch instead of your outstretched hand, would calling him ‘stupid’ in the moment going to help you or him or humanity?  He was just trying to survive the best he could in the moment.  He may not have seen that debris coming up behind him but you wouldn’t have seen what he saw from his perspective either.  That’s why he reached for the tree branch—it was because of something only he could see.

Do you believe that people have the ability and right to seek out information and draw conclusions about how to handle this crisis in the best way, the same as you do?  Do you believe people generally want to do the best they can do, based on their knowledge and beliefs, and aren’t deliberately putting others in harm’s way?  It may not look like it, but the reality is people are still doing the best they can based on their maturity level AND openness to new information.  It may not be your reality or your version of maturity and that’s hard to take sometimes.  It’s also true that fear does not help people respond from the best, most rational self (see my prior posts about managing the F.E.A.R.).  Their fear can increase your fear, if you let it.  That is up to you and your maturity level and willingness to not let fear control you.  Calling people ‘stupid’ is a sure-fire way to increase your fear.

We will of course come to different conclusions.  That is the way of it.  I find I need to develop more radical acceptance for ‘the way it is’ these days because it is easy to get overwhelmed by fear.  When I recognize that is what is going on, I stop, take a breath and now I am saying, “May they be free from fear.  May I be free from fear.  May they be well.  May I be well.”

How would it change your experience if you adopted that or another approach instead of ‘they are so stupid’?  You deserve to be more connected, not less, and less fearful, and so does everyone else, despite our differences.

The best way to get back into that space of without overwhelming fear is to PLAY.  It frees our mind and body and allows creative thought, ease and compassion to arise.  Try it today and see how much better you cope with whatever is going on in your world today.

 

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Enjoying the J.O.M.O.

You may have heard of F.O.M.O. or the Fear Of Missing Out or seen the column I wrote about it a while back.  Recently during the lockdown, someone coined a new term—J.O.M.O. or the Joy Of Missing Out.  I can understand the J.O.M.O. despite the hardships of the lockdown that we all have endured.

For some people, lockdown is a nightmare so I don’t want to minimize the pain of so many.  I shudder for our collective mental health, especially for the number of women and children in abusive homes that have gotten demonstrably worse during lockdown.  The pressures of job loss or interruption, the concerns for health, the stress of being confined or homeless, the worry for the planet as a whole—it takes its toll.  However, there has been an opportunity here during lockdown that many people have realized.

Those who understood the J.O.M.O. early on in the lockdown, especially those people who are naturally more introverted, really appreciated the slowing down of life.  Many of us are chronically stressed, doing too much, overwhelmed with the demands and choices of our life, trying to take care of too many people while neglecting our own needs.  It’s a recipe for a health and mental health disaster which shows itself in our communities every day.  The J.O.M.O. then, was palpable for many who wanted and needed an ‘excuse’ to say ‘no’ to their overly committed lives.  It was like getting a free pass for some level of renewal.  Once you could get past the ‘shoulds’ and the stress of suddenly having a lot of unstructured time, there was a collective deep exhale for so many of us to not have to do one more thing.

One client of mine had her 7 year old daughter in no less than 5 classes a week and activities on the weekend, all while the mother worked full time and was a single parent who not surprisingly, suffers from insomnia, headaches and neck and shoulder pain daily.  When I got her to ask her daughter about how she felt about their activity level, the daughter was thrilled to have everything cancelled.  Finally the mother believed me and all the others that advised her that her daughter was overscheduled and stressed, even if her daughter said she enjoyed the activities.  We ALL, especially kids, need unstructured down time for the brain to process what is happening in our lives, to feel our feelings, to know our real beliefs and desires, and be a human being instead of a human doing.

If what it takes to have some people accept being a human being instead of a human doing is a pandemic, then we can actually come out of this being grateful.  Our collective humanity is careening off the edge of a distressed planet which would benefit from our removal.  We MUST stop, find the J.O.M.O. and realize you aren’t actually missing out at all.

So many of us found benefits in the slowness, after we got through the ‘boredom’ and our nervous systems were allowed to be heard.  Then a sigh of relief was also heard.  At some point, did you feel like you got a staycation?  Did you feel better when you did less?  How much easier did it get to say ‘no’?  How can you apply this in your life post-lockdown when you don’t have the ‘excuse’?  What were the benefits to you of slowing down?  What things did you get rid of that helped you with your J.O.M.O.?

You have probably heard the saying, ‘No is a complete sentence.’  All of us, especially women, suffer from doing too much and not knowing how to say no.  We think we are responsible for other people’s feelings (we are not) and un-learning that takes some time and work.

The kids (and hopefully all the pets) benefited from more attention from the adults or family in their lives.  Kids do NOT want or need another toy, device or activity, even if they say they do.  It is up to the adults to help our children learn how to self regulate.  We do this by interacting with them and providing emotional support, validation and good role modeling.  They often see much more than we think.  The mother of the 7 year old I mentioned was letting her daughter call the shots but I pointed out that kids don’t know how to self regulate well and that’s why they need the adults in their lives to say ‘no, you are doing too much.  You need to go play.’  Fifty years of child development research clearly tells us that unstructured imaginative play is critical to physical and mental health, as well as brain development.  In addition, positive interactions, even as simple as consistent family dinners together can be the deciding factor in how well a child copes with life.  Less is more.  The J.O.M.O. is a gift.  I hope you will accept this gift and never, ever go back to ‘normal.’

What would a new normal look like to you, your family, your work, your relationships?  Adults also need unstructured time to play and unwind in a thoughtful way.  We don’t need complicated or expensive toys and activities to be happy.  Have you benefited from more time with loved ones or found a way through the inevitable conflict that first arises when our old patterns of ‘normal’ are challenged?  What new skills and realizations do you have because of the J.O.M.O.?  If the lockdown was a nightmare for you, what have you realized about your old life that must change and what is one small step you can make toward a new normal?

Will you be a human being or a human doing?  As we come out of lockdown, the slowing down can and will continue to some degree.  We can’t do everything we used to do because of the continuing need to for physical distancing.  How can you use this to your benefit?  What will you prioritize or will things be prioritized for you?  That is a choice.  If you need help figuring out your new normal OR being able to stay with your J.O.M.O., reach out for help.  This is YOUR life.  Start with playing and that will give your mind, body and spirit the space it needs to know what’s next.

I can be reached for life, wellness and family coaching and/or counseling sessions at jteleia@gmail.com, http://www.YourLifeWellLived.net.

 

 

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Earth Day 2020!

I just learned that on the ‘first’ Earth Day celebration 50 years ago on April 22, 1970, 20 MILLION people in the USA demonstrated to demand that the government take action to protect the environment.  20 MILLION on one day!  That was 10% of the entire US population at the time.  President Nixon was so moved by the demonstrations that they resulted in the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

All of my posts and work are focused on connection with the natural world in some way to facilitate emotional, social, mental, physical and spiritual wellness so celebrating Earth Day is right in alignment for me.

I got ‘woke’ 30 years ago while in graduate school and watching educational shows on MTV about the environment around Earth Day.  Wow.  Never looked back.  Changed my commitments to this planet and ALL of her inhabitants, especially animals.

Now, I find my self challenged again as we look at where we are 50 years later.  I fight despair and hopelessness because they rob me of JOY and that robs me of motivation.

I was also challenged by a group I’m in to PUBLICLY promise to do something to help this planet so here goes:

I PROMISE:

1) to not and to remind people NOT to use disposable ‘protective gear’ in everyday life if they are afraid of illness. Gloves and masks are already turning up in the waterways and on land.
2) to never invest in companies that destroy people, animals and places
3) to continue to not use products that test on animals and make my own to cut down on plastic use
4) eat less meat or go back to my vegetarian ways–already off eggs and dairy
5) to help more animals-through fostering, donations, and educating others
6) to re-commit to raising the JOY vibration in the world b/c hopelessness makes us lose our motivation.

Really, this kind of commitment helps me too to be healthier and happier.  Consider how making a promise like this will HELP YOU too!

Now I am giving you an EARTH DAY CHALLENGE. What will YOU promise to do that will help this planet and/or its inhabitants? How will it help YOU?  Please share the challenge and please comment!

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The Four Candles

I came across this story recently and I wish I could find a reference for it so please let me know if you know it.  It is about something we need rather badly now as it seems the world is spinning on out of control fear which has led to some very sad behavior choices.

This story helped me and I hope it will be an inspiration to you.  It’s called The Four Candles.

The Four Candles burned
slowly. Their Ambiance was so
soft you could hear them
speak…

The First Candle said, “I Am
Peace, but these days, nobody
wants to keep me lit.” Then
Peace’s flame slowly
diminishes and goes out
completely.

The Second Candle said, “I Am
Faith, but these days, I am no
longer indispensable.” Then
Faith’s flame slowly
diminishes and goes out
completely.

Sadly The Third Candle Speaks,

“I Am Love and I haven’t the

strength to stay lit any

longer. People put me aside

and don’t understand my

importance. They even forget

to love those who are nearest

to them.” Waiting no longer,

Love goes out completely.

 

Suddenly…A child enters the

room and sees the three

candles no longer burning. The

child begins to cry, “Why are

you not burning? You are

supposed to stay lit until the

end!”

Then The Fourth Candle speaks

gently to the little child,

“Don’t be afraid, for I Am

Hope, and while I still burn,

we can re-light the other

candles.”

 

With Shining Eyes the child

took the Candle Of Hope and

lit the other three candles.

 

Never let the Flame Of Hope go

out of your life. With Hope,

no matter how bad things look

and are…Peace, Faith and

Love can Shine Brightly in our

lives. 

 

How can you kindle the hope in your life?  What part of your faith, peace or love is difficult to hold on to and what will help you with this?  Alternatively, is there something that is asking to be released from your life?

Your inner wisdom can help you decide if something needs to shift during this time of renewal and re-evaluation of our lives.  Sometimes when we let go of one thing, something else quite unexpected comes into our lives and it renews our love, peace, faith and hope.

There are gifts for many people in this strange time but it may be difficult to see them, especially if you are not paying attention or drowning out the full range of emotions through too much news or social media or incessant conversations about the situation that is feeding your F.E.A.R. (see my last couple of blog posts for more on this).  Yes, there may be pain for many, many people but that is part of life, just like death.  The old saying stands true, “Pain is inevitable but suffering is a choice.”

Take this time to see where your sense of Peace, Faith, Love and especially Hope stands.  What will help you light your candles and keep them lit?  Focus on that and you get through this with many more gifts than you realize.  If you need help finding them, as many will, please reach out for help.  You deserve to keep all four candles of your life LIT.

One of the best things you can do to renew hope is to go outside in the sunshine (which is a natural disinfectant), into nature and just take it all in through your 5 senses with curiosity, play and exploration.  Mother Nature is still here for us and she is finally getting a breather too.

I can be reached for life, wellness and family coaching and/or counseling sessions at jteleia@gmail.com, www.YourLifeWellLived.net.

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What If??

What if I told you that many already believe that this latest pandemic was inevitable?  Interestingly, these ‘new’ pathogens keep coming around, often as a result of contact with abused and cruelly treated animals.  What if I told you the Earth, being a living organism has an intelligence and can create things, just like our immune system can, to try to throw off a pathogen?  Who do you think is the biggest pathogen on Mother Earth now?  You may have heard that there are far too many of us for the Earth to sustain at our present rate of resource use.  Is she is again trying to bring herself back in balance?

If this virus was again created by the Earth to fling off her worst pathogen, then can we accept her right to do so to stay alive?

I tend to take a non-panicked long view of things and when everyone is running screaming out one door, I look for another door entirely.  It’s not a popular door to find, but I am not alone in looking for it either.

I invite you to join me in living without being controlled by F.E.A.R. or False Evidence Appearing Real.  Fear is much more harmful to your health in the long run than a virus in which at this writing 80% of people infected have mild or no symptoms and up to 96% to 99% recover from the infection according to Dr. Mark Hyman, a Functional Medicine expert.  Those are GREAT odds.

Can we accept that we are more at risk getting in our own car or in our own communities than from this virus with the high survival rate it has?

I invite you to question why the social and other media decided that this virus was worse than say for example the 31 MILLION children that die every year from malnutrition, or 85,000 children a DAY that gets nearly zero attention.

I invite you to put things in perspective and look at other pandemics, rates of flu deaths, cancer and heart disease, car accidents, death from intimate partner violence, and many other causes and see that if this panic is really is worth the worldwide economic, financial and mental toll it has taken and will take for decades to come.

Can we accept that we must own the reason many recent pandemics get started in the first place—our cruel treatment of either wild or non-wild animals?  Are we ready yet to see that the other beings with which we share this planet have a right to be here and not be used and abused by us?  Are we the supreme rulers if they can take us out with a simple virus that many of these animals carry without harm?  Could it be their last defense?

Jane Goodall speaks to this in a video she posted last month.  See it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOkBBMFlTpM&fbclid=IwAR22oqUIdSqe4w9kILKlfZRv42P04nONHqjKtqzfYL9zShOP6zsNyWQ_tCU

I often write about the positive impact of nature on our mental and physical health.  This pandemic that is occurring is seriously hampering even reasonable efforts to enjoy what little time we have on this Earth, to find some joy and enhance our immune system.  Locking people in their homes, many of whom then get sucked into social or other media, is akin to throwing gas on the flames.  We did that.  How will we come out of this and be better before the next go-round?  What will you demand of your elected officials to keep this from happening again, or to make sure the healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed again?

We will learn from this, hopefully in the right direction.  If we take the view of the Earth and understand it’s all about balance—some will die, some will live and those that live become stronger IF they keep their resources in balance so they are available in an emergency.  Will we get that from this experience or will we continue to cause ourselves more suffering demanding that this ‘go away’ or telling ourselves the story that it’s somehow not acceptable or more tragic if people die from this versus the more likely scenario of a car accident, on their own stairs or in their own bathroom, heart attack or cancer, or starvation?  Pain is inevitable but suffering is a choice.  If we demand things from this Earth until we are so out of balance that one new virus can throw off our entire population and keep us from having the resources to deal with it, we are choosing suffering.

Prevention is the key to all health challenges.  This virus will be with us, like the flu and other serious pathogens and toxins that we must deal with every day.  There is a way to eat, sleep and take care of yourself that will make you much less susceptible to every bad bug.  I wrote some about this in my recent article called F.S.F.-The New S.O.S.  Contact me for more information or see the article online.

Do what you can to get outside and get some disinfecting UV light and immune enhancing Vitamin D from the sun.  During epidemics in the past, hospitals found that opening up all the windows and bringing patients outside helped survival rates dramatically and it became standard practice for a while.  We lost that wisdom along the way.

It will also help keep your anxiety down if you get your body moving in some way.  You are much more likely to get sick worrying about if you can find enough toilet paper and then running to the store with all the other people in close proximity, with ALL the pathogens we ALL carry, ALL the time.  It’s like throwing yourself out of the frying pan and into the fire!  Don’t do it!  Yes, wash your hands, and practice good hygiene with others but don’t let F.E.A.R. and stress be your undoing!  Fight the F.E.A.R. through PLAY!

I also offer this poem which has been circulating and is well said:

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. 

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

~Kitty O’Meary

I can be reached for life, wellness and family coaching and/or counseling sessions at jteleia@gmail.com, www.YourLifeWellLived.net or 970-462-7098.

 

 

 

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Fear the F.E.A.R. and What to Do Instead

I am sure you are aware by now of the amazing impact the Coronavirus or COV-19 has had around the world, on entire economies and the financial, personal and health lives of it seems, everyone on earth. Corona virus is no worse than a mild flu in most people and the ones it kills are the usual ones that every virus or pathogen like the flu kills—the elderly and/or already ill.  Sad yes, but does not justify the level of reaction by any means based on the real numbers.  Know how many children die per year from undernutrition—31 MILLION.  That’s almost 85,000 children PER DAY.  Where are the alarm bells for that every day?

The worldwide response to this current incarnation of the corona virus baffles the mind when you are so much more likely to get hurt or killed by getting in your own car every day or even crossing the street.  If you are a woman, you are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than this virus (50,000/year worldwide).  Heart failure and accidents in or near your own home are more likely to kill or hurt you on a daily basis.  Are you afraid to go up and down your stairs or get in or out of the bathtub?  No.  Look up the numbers on this and start to question why you are being told this virus is so much worse.  There’s a reason it’s worse and it’s not because it’s going to get you.

How could a basically insignificant virus, that which, at the time of this writing has killed no more than 5000 people out of 7.5 BILLION and spreading no more quickly than the common cold or flu getting the kind of attention and response this is?  One word F.E.A.R.– or False Evidence Appearing Real.  I believe that irresponsible, inflammatory journalism didn’t look at the facts in perspective and had a field day with making a small amount of the ‘unknown’ seem worse than it was because of a financial motive to get people to watch, tune in, etc. to their shows, programs and social media sites.  Politicians under pressure  to DO something by this fear mongering made them make senseless and illogical decisions instead of un-alarming the public.

It is our right AND our responsibility in this day and age to think critically and question the information being given to us in the news, by the reporters, the talking heads and the politicians about pretty much everything.  What is the reality of this virus in perspective to other illnesses or things that cause death?  It’s the same as with HIV in proportion to cancer.  The attention HIV got and the subsequent funding, far outweighed that of cancer, a much more common deadly disease that also takes a terrible toll on its victims and their loved ones.

Who gets to decide that one disease or problem is the worse one?  Why does the media get to decide what’s news one day and gone the next?  Are the fires in Australia still burning?  We wouldn’t know unless you go dig for it because the major media stop paying attention to it about half way through because it got old.  The virus was new and could be made scarier because it could impact more people, so more people would tune in.  That’s the mind set of the news creators.  They think they can lead us around by the nose.  I reject that lack of respect in humanity.

The media and our political system know how to play on F.E.A.R. and we are falling for it.  For our actual health, this must stop.  The stress alone is more likely to lower your immunity and cause you more damage short and long term than the actual virus!   Question everything by asking ‘Compared to what?’.  When someone makes big, scary claims, grab that F.E.A.R. by the throat and start asking ‘compared to what?’ and see if there is a loss of perspective.

F.E.A.R. means big money for some people, especially the pharmaceutical industry and the media.  So the next challenge to you is to always ‘follow the money.’  You may have heard of this tactic because so many times, once you do, you always find a profit motive behind the fear-mongering.  Our brains are evolved to pay attention more to fearful or anxiety provoking information.  This is the ‘negativity bias’ that is meant only to keep us safe from immediate and lethal threats.  This part of the brain evolved from a much earlier, more simple ‘lizard’ brain but its overuse in this day and age by those who control information dissemination are manipulating this effect.  This keeps us so distracted it is a challenge to evolve further to better develop our higher level brain skills like critical thinking unless we really try harder not to be sucked into by the lizard brain.  Indeed, we should be taught these skills at home and school as a matter of course but we are not.

This virus is just a variant on one that has been around for a while and it will continue to come back around every year like the various strains of the cold and flu that can’t be eradicated no matter how many vaccines they try to throw at it.  Viruses and other pathogens are incredibly clever at diversifying and do so by NOT killing their host so they can replicate, evolve and pass themselves on.  That’s why there is still no cure for the common cold.

What we DO know about how to fight illness and disease is back to the basics—and what I wrote about recently in my F.S.F.—The New S.O.S.  The food you eat has a huge impact on your gut and therefore your immunity since most chemicals needed for your immune system are made there.  Food choices also impact tremendously on our mental function and mood so healthy food will help you be more ready to use ALL your brain power, not just your lizard brain.  It will also help you keep your anxiety as the neurotransmitters we need for mood balance are almost all made in your gut.  Sleep is also key in keeping your immunity strong as is stress relieving or FUN activities.  You are much more likely to get sick worrying about if you can find enough toilet paper and then running to the store with all the other people in close proximity, with ALL the pathogens we ALL carry, ALL the time.  It’s like throwing yourself out of the frying pan and into the fire!  Don’t do it!  Go to the beach or elsewhere in nature, watch a funny movie, hug and get hugged.  Yes, wash your hands but don’t let F.E.A.R. and stress be your undoing!  Fight the F.E.A.R. with F.S.F. and go PLAY!

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No More Lonely Hearts

I hate Valentine’s Day.  Yep, I wrote that.  It’s a made-up ‘Hallmark holiday’ by retailers after the holiday slump trying to get us to buy more stuff we don’t need, especially candy.  Besides the negative impact on our physical health, Valentine’s Day is often very upsetting for lonely people or those in difficult or unhappy relationships.  I have written before about loneliness being extremely widespread and that it has more of an impact on physical health than smoking or obesity.  The research on it is worth repeating.

The U.S. Senate Commission on Aging has convened meetings to discuss elevating loneliness to a public health priority on the same level as smoking and obesity.  Other research has shown if someone has less than three confidants, they are more than twice as likely to die from heart disease and twice as likely to die from all other causes than those with more confidants.   Loneliness is also correlated with cognitive decline, dementia and mental health problems.

It’s not just a problem for older people.  Veterans are more likely to commit suicide because of loneliness and the loss of the ‘brotherhood’ that they had in the service, than from war related trauma.  The pain centers in the brain light up the same way in people experiencing loneliness or perceived rejection as actual pain.  It DOES hurt.  Lonely people also get sick more easily and feel worse when they do than non-lonely people.

Young people 16-24 years old, in a recent British survey, reported being the loneliest among all age groups, even though they are the ones with typically better health and easy access to large peer groups.  This has held true in studies of American youth too.  They report being more lonely and isolated than any other group or in past research.  In another study of adults, over half of those married reported feeling chronic loneliness.

I want to challenge each one of us to reach out to someone who appears to be alone.  Even if it seems they are fine, reach out and say ‘hello,’ ask the how they are doing, ask them a simple question or two about themselves, LISTEN and do it regularly.  Refrain from talking about yourself immediately unless asked directly.  I’ve noticed far too many people have few social skills and talk endlessly about themselves without making any real connection to the one they think is listening—and they aren’t after about the first few minutes.

Making a difference to ONE person can change a life for the better.  We are programmed biologically to be connected to each other, much like the dolphins and whales who must live in close community or they will die.  It is up to us to change this isolation we all live in.

It’s not just about reaching out to elders who may live alone or not have much family but also to children and teens so they know there are safe adults who they can turn to.  People really don’t expect that much.  A little kindness, taking an interest in what they are interested in, speaking to them regularly, letting them know about you and that you are safe—and then BE that safe person.  Ask before giving hugs, don’t tell or agree to keep ‘secrets’, go meet their family members as you pass by, walk with them, bring them healthy treats with parent/guardian permission first and above all, play and laugh with them-even in the simplest ways like throwing a ball or asking them to show you how they do something.  Anything can be meaningful and will be appreciated in the long run.  Remember that connected kids become safe teens and safe adults.  We need more of them.

For other age groups, it is much the same.  Being more than the neighbor that just waves and goes inside used to be the norm.  Let’s bring that back.  Being outside is good for you anyway so it can easily segue to a conversation or an invitation for coffee when you see them.  Sharing the excess fruit, herbs or veggies from the yard is a great way to connect.  Better yet make them some food in a dish that has to be returned and see what happens. Time tested ways still work.  Don’t give up if initially your efforts are met with apprehension.  We have become so isolated in general that we don’t know what to do when someone reaches out for no ‘reason.’  Keep trying.

You never know when someone who appears to be part of a couple or family could be the loneliest person on your street.  Sometimes this is the most isolating of all kinds of loneliness because difficult close relationships can be the most painful of all, especially because they are ‘supposed’ to be the opposite.  Rarely will people experiencing this disclose or even realize it.  Not making assumptions and reaching out anyway can be the beginning of turning the tide for someone.  What a powerful initiator of change we can all be just by being committed to reaching out!

Funny thing is, when we reach out in a non-judgmental effort to help someone else, it makes our own lives richer through greater compassion for others and ourselves.  So whether or not you are lonely, it will help YOU to reach out.  Love and caring should be expressed 365 days a year in a thousand ways, not just acknowledged on one made-up day.

Going outside to play in the yard or taking a walk down the street and setting an intention to talk to everyone you meet are just some ways to start changing your OWN life for the better and changing our world so that there are no more lonely hearts.

I can be reached for life, wellness and family coaching and/or counseling sessions at jteleia@gmail.com, www.YourLifeWellLived.net or 970-462-7098.

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