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Nov 2

The Pandemic of Loneliness

Posted on Monday, November 2, 2009 in Uncategorized

While H1N1 dominates the media’s attention and ours, there is a far more devastating pandemic that never makes the nightly news: loneliness.

Every day I read texts, Facebook updates and listen while people express the pain of their loneliness.

Loneliness takes many forms. Longing to dress up for a party Jeanette sits alone on Halloween. Wishing and hoping that her phone would ring Debbie keeps her cell phone volume on “Outdoor” fearing that she might miss the one call that she might receive. While his lunch table mates laugh about the fun they had the night before David suffers in silence wishing that they would finally invite him to join them.

What can Jeanette do to join a party? How can Debbie cope with not getting a call? Where can David find the courage to ask for an invitation?

Frankly, I’m not sure. I don’t know what stands in their way, but I know what helped me.

I found that in serving others I took my eyes off of my own loneliness. I found ways to use my gifts and talents to care about others. In doing so I solved some mysteries about people and I learned about myself.

Serving others through manual labor helped me to build self-confidence. People need help. No one likes relocating their residence. Packing and moving our possessions is really low on most our lists of favorite things to do. Simple tasks like helping people move are a huge gift. In serving others I found that I had talents and abilities that I had not previously exposed.

Serving others through listening helped me to build self-respect. In my loneliness I build dysfunctional myths about myself. As I listened I found out that most people are like me. TreeHouse has taught thousands of teens and parents that we are all lovable, capable and worthwhile, but we often forget those truths. Serving others challenged my self-concept and built my esteem.

As I listened to others I found three things about myself. I found that I had compassion. I really learned to care about the needs of others. I found connection. We were not as different as I had previously thought. And, I found confidence. I was not the only one who faced challenges in life. Most people do, and some suffered far greater challenges than I did, and since they had the courage and strength to face their battles I learned that I could face my loneliness.

What then? What’s it take to be a good friend? Stay tuned for the next three posts as I explore three characteristics that can help you to learn to appreciate other people more.

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