Earlier this year the UK appointed a Minister for Loneliness.
We often think it’s only the elderly who feel alone. But this loneliness epidemic is not owned by the old. In my role as a Life Coach, I’ve spoken to people of all ages who feel isolated and invisible in our modern world. In fact, I experienced this myself a few years ago.
When we moved to Australia we enjoyed being part of a vibrant primary school community, but when my two daughters started high school and became more independent, I felt less needed. Many of the school mums I was friendly with went back to work; my husband travelled overseas more often for his job and I was shocked at how lost I felt during those long days.
Abraham Maslow shows us in his hierarchy of needs that once human beings have attained the basics for survival ie: food, shelter and safety, we then crave love and a sense of belonging because we are made for community.
Having studied human nature for years, I knew that all I needed to do was open my heart and mind, then start the process of creating the change I wanted in my life. So, I decided to set up a group for women (like me) in midlife who were seeking to reclaim their identity and find a new purpose and more meaning.
Almost immediately, my reptilian brain went into fearful mode with negative self-talk shouting in my head: What if nobody comes along? You don’t really want the responsibility of organising gatherings, do you? Why bother? What will others say when they discover you’re feeling lost? You’re ill-equipped to start something like this on your own… At first, I gave into this negative thought pattern and procrastinated, but staying safe in my comfort zone left me feeling stuck and very uncomfortable. Throughout all this time I was telling my girls to “be the change you want to see” and I felt guilty that I wasn’t practicing what I preached.
Scrolling through feeds on the internet one day, I saw this quote “If it’s to be, It’s up to me!” It only takes one person to start the ball rolling on any new project, and I knew this message was telling me it was my turn to act.
So, I took a deep breath, told my negative self talk to be quiet, overcame procrastination with action, reached and invited local ladies to join me at the community hall. I set the tone for this meeting to be an opportunity for us to support one another, share, learn and have a laugh. That was two years ago, and we have been meeting regularly ever since, with new ladies joining us all the time. What I didn’t know at that time was just how much this neighbourly gathering would positively impact my own life.
Building community requires openness, a willingness to change, a desire for things to be different and action! Nothing changes or improves if we don’t put time and effort into it. If you’re feeling a bit lost and lonely, don’t be afraid to admit it and let me encourage you to join us – or create something in your own local area – you will receive more than you ever give. If you don’t believe me, give it a try!
If you work full time, or live on the other side of the city and can’t attend our meet ups but would like to be connected to this group and receive tips, ideas and support then I invite you to join our online space, which I affectionately refer to as my “clan” Community of Ladies Achieving Now! This is a private space where you can take off your mask and just be you! I and all the others look forward to welcoming you. Ax