How to stop feeling lonely

How you may be adding to your loneliness

By Jessica Militello

I’ve written about loneliness and coping skills before, but let’s face it; even when we know what to do, sometimes we just struggle with certain feelings when they come around. As humans, we want to feel love, belonging, and comfort and there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel connected to others. But- when you feel lonely it can be difficult to see a situation clearly or notice how we may be making our loneliness worse in the moment.

Here are some ways you may be making your loneliness linger

  1. Counting other people’s “blessings”

When I feel dissatisfied with the state of all my relationships or lack thereof, I have a tendency to start thinking of other people I know and begin comparing whose life may be more magical based on my own assumptions of the perceived quantity of their family, friendships, and love life while conveniently glossing over the fact that I have no idea of the quality of these perceived relationships. The truth is, regardless of how many people we think someone might have in their life, in many instances, we really don’t know what the relationship is truly like or if the relationships they have with these perceived people are even satisfying, meaningful, or if these same relationship dynamics that they have are even what we would want for our life.

2. If you are on your own on Friday or Saturday night and you don’t feel good about it- do yourself a favor and stay off social media

Loneliness has a few different outfits-one of them is FOMO. The “feeling of missing out” or the fear of it happens when we are dissatisfied with our current company, especially when that company is ourselves. Remember, being alone and being lonely are two different things, but I’m sure you know that there are tons of times when you were alone and having the time of your life and basking in the moment, and then there are those times where you feel despair, left out, and wondering why is it that everyone seems to have their social life on max, meanwhile your last text was from CVS reminding you to pick up your prescription. What I know is-anytime I am alone and feeling lonely about it I can promise you what added a sting was watching Instagram stories of friends and acquaintances, looking at what they are up to, and comparing it to my current pity party for one. If you know that watching what others are up to is going to make you feel bad, then do yourself a favor and set your social media aside for the evening. This intertwines with point one and it does nothing but turn what could be a period of loneliness into a night of wallowing in despair and it simply doesn’t have to be so.

3. Wishing for things to be different and feeling helpless

There’s a difference between your hopes and dreams being rooted in your own abilities and musing that if only you had more friends, more invites, a committed relationship, THEN you would feel happy. You may not think this in this exact wording, but its certainly underlying in times of loneliness. It’s normal to want human connection- but you need to make sure you are choosing the right people for your life. This is a game of patience and you need to know what your standards are and only accept quality, reciprocal friendships and relationships. You need to feel good enough with yourself that if these relationships are not meeting the mark, you are able to gracefully walk away. I wish I could keep count of all the times in the past where my loneliness mixed in with low self-worth, and a desperation to belong got me into trouble by choosing unhealthy friendships and relationships. It is now the reason why I would rather choose a season of loneliness than pick the wrong people just to fill voids. If you let this desire make you feel desperate for company you will throw your standards out the window.

4. Isolating yourself and expecting other people to magically know you want connection

This step usually comes about after we’ve spent enough time dwelling on the first three points I just wrote about. You can thank your inner critic for convincing you the reason you are lonely is because you aren’t good enough, amongst other unhelpful, negative thinking. We feel alone and then we feel resentful of the people who aren’t reaching out to us because we spent the time convincing OURSELVES that it is correlated to our worth and then project these feelings onto others. None of us can read another person’s mind and know what it is that they want and need especially if they aren’t asking for anything. Sometimes when someone seems to be going it alone people can assume they want space and this can especially ring true if you are known for being independent. It would be like going to a buffet with your friends and sitting at the table with an empty plate while they are going up and getting their food. Your friends notice you not getting food and ask if everything is okay and you say “sure I’m fine,” while in fact not being fine and at the end of the meal feel upset and offended that your friends didn’t “just know” that you wanted food or that they should of got up and brought you a plate while you sat there being hungry and sad. Do you see how insane that thinking is-yet that is what we do when we want company and say nothing. You cannot make your phone ring no matter how long you sit there and hope for it to. We also have to know the difference between wanting connection and wanting validation from others because of not feeling good enough due to our own thoughts and worries that made us think that way about ourselves in the first place.

What are some things you do to get yourself out of feeling lonely? What has worked really well for you? Share your advice in the comments-

What to do after a heartbreak

Some simple pieces of advice that can make a big difference in your healing

By Jessica Militello

When I think about mistakes I made after getting my heartbroken, I was in too much pain to think clearly or make decisions that were healthy for me. And that’s okay. At the time I was too focused on how to soothe my pain, but I tried to make my pain go away by staying near to what caused it in the first place. I wanted to make an article like this for a while but I felt hesitant to be so vulnerable. These are things I learned the hard way after many mistakes. I’m grateful for the lessons and the growth that came from it and I hope this helps whoever needs it.

  1. Find one or two trusted people to share your feelings with

One of the biggest mistakes I ever made right after one breakup in particular was explaining the story to a lot of close friends and acquaintances-it was mostly because the breakup itself was surprising, and it was extremely confusing and painful to me to try to make sense of it. I ended up getting a ton of different opinions-mostly from people who barely even knew him. I ended up hearing things like, “he didn’t really appreciate me, he didn’t think I was “worth” fighting for, his reasons for breaking up weren’t in fact the actual reason and he was just bullshitting me,” things that they had absolutely no way to possibly know unless they were fucking mind-readers or fortune tellers and trust me, these people weren’t experts in anything. In retrospect, thinking of these gem “words of advice” that they decided to share with me sound absolutely ridiculous for anyone to try to guess or assume, but when I was going through the raw pain of this heartbreak and confused, I didn’t know what to believe. It’s important to note that when you are in deep emotional pain, your brain perceives this pain the same as physical pain, your IQ is lower, and the feeling of rejection itself causes pain. It’s also important to note that during a heartbreak you are in the feeling part of your brain-logic does not exist at this point. So let’s add up all of this stuff that’s going on in your mind and heart plus getting shitty opinions from well-meaning people-are you picturing this? Yeah it’s a fucking disaster. The last thing you need when you’re sitting on the floor trying to pick up a million pieces of your heart are people idly standing around telling you that the reason you are in pain is because the person that you just lost didn’t really give a fuck about you and that there’s some “top secret” reason that he broke up with you. To be fair, I truly believe these people were trying*** to be well-meaning. It is hard for us to see other people in pain. We want to make their pain go away, but if you don’t know how, telling someone something that you think will make them magically move on seems like the quick fix in the situation. All it did for me was make me feel ashamed and stupid on top of heartbroken and confused. But thanks to all of the bad advice I got, I can now share a golden piece of advice here. Please- do not do what I did. Part of this was a boundary issue as well, which I did not set at the time, with people insisting I talk about it or pushing me to share my pain by telling their friend/spouse/relative what happened for them to chime in. Your life and pain are not a soap opera to entertain and amuse others and give them the chance to play armchair detective and therapist. Find one person, two people max who you trust, who is a great listener, loving, caring, and validating. State your boundary right away in whether you want to simply vent or if you want advice. You are also allowed to tell someone that what they are saying is hurtful if it is. This time in your grieving is about feeling your loss and simply being where you are. I know-especially if the breakup was surprising in any way that you want answers. Part of this is also that when you are in deep emotional pain, it is your brain that is trying to make sense of why you are in pain so that it can protect you from future threats. But this is not the time to think of and question all of the why’s-this will only hold off your healing. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Stop pretending and performing to yourself, your ex, and your social media followers

For some reason, unbeknownst to my soul, there seems to be some stupid contest right after a breakup of who can appear as if they do not give a fuck. There is no prize for the winner of this contest and yet, we love to play. Unless you are both actors vying for an academy award at the end of the year-do yourself a favor and cut the show and theatrics, especially via social media. How many romance stories have you heard that sounded like, “he broke up with me but once he saw my selfies and how fun, hot, and interesting I was from my IG stories, he came back and now the wedding is next spring in Tuscany.?” Oh wait that’s because things don’t work that way and if someone only changed their mind because of the way you look and how entertaining you are on social media, then good luck trying to keep up that show so that they’ll want to be with you. It would be best at this time to remove him as a follower, stop following him, and make your page private. If he truly wants to reach out-he will call you or text you, he will have a good reason explaining why he is reaching out and be understanding if you are cautious about it because he cares about your feelings instead of playing games and being ambiguous via passive Instagram ‘likes’ and random texts for an ego boost or attention. You will know the difference if that happens. If you feel the need to explain why you are doing this social media removing in order to focus on properly healing then use your own judgement on that. In general, your healing should be the most important thing and going no contact is the best way to begin this process.

 3. Don’t try to be friends right away

I get it, you are in pain, trying to accept a loss that you didn’t want, and now you are desperate for some way to be in this person’s life. See point one again about your IQ being lower while you are in pain and being in the feeling part of your mind with logic thrown out the window. I once felt that I was going to be in pain anyway, so the pain of keeping him in my life as a friend immediately after the breakup was better than the pain of letting go. LOL- how wrong I was. Sometimes we just want to find a way to lessen the pain and the loss, it’s our mind again trying to find comfort and not wanting to be in pain. Of course you still want the person in your life, regardless of who ended it-but you can’t keep someone in your life as a friend when you- still have feelings for them, are still attracted to them, still hope to be with them, are actively mourning the loss of them. Do you see why this is not good for you? Any time I thought the pain of holding on was better than the pain of letting go, the universe found ways to slap me back into reality. Hard. Do you really want to find out what they are up to? How would you feel if you saw them hanging out with a girl who might be a friend, but maybe they are hooking up, and going through their social media to compare and assume and put yourself through more pain? I know you don’t want to hear it but no contact is the only way to begin moving on. But I had to learn this the hard way so I’ll let you figure it out after many mistakes, confusion, and more pain. I refused to listen to logic and had to fall on my face more than once before I realized what was good for me.

4. Be where you are

I made this list short and simple on purpose- you’re going through a lot and don’t need to be inundated with tons of advice. Feel what you are feeling-it is normal, it is human. It is not weak or stupid to miss and still care for someone who was a big part of your life. It means the relationship meant something to you, it means that despite all of the heart aches, struggles, and losses throughout your life that you can still feel, you have the ability to love, you trusted yourself enough to let your guard down and be vulnerable enough to risk getting your heart broken in the first place. Understand in a world of apathy and indifference that loving someone and letting them in is the bravest act of all. Take care of yourself, stop judging yourself, blaming yourself, or wondering if you weren’t good enough. Your worth and your happiness is never in anyone else’s hands but your own. Find things that make you happy and small moments that put joy in your heart. You are enough and so worthy and when you are ready, your pain will only help you to grow and become stronger. Please love yourself and be around those who love you and spark joy in your soul. Those moments of joy and laughter will help to soothe you and slowly, over time heal the broken parts of your heart.

Start with one corner

Feeling overwhelmed lately? Here’s how to get out of that feeling

By Jessica Militello

There was something about this week; maybe the week starting with a massive snowstorm, the cold, dull winter sky, the never-ending pandemic, and the general sense of not wanting to deal with any of it. By mid-week I started feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, stuck, and hopeless. By the time I allowed this barrage of thoughts to get me feeling stuck in a corner with no way out, I realized I had way too much damn clutter going on. When we start to have one bad feeling, we can tend to let it get the best of us and let it multiply, and we end up with a list of all the things we don’t have, the people who aren’t there, and the things we haven’t accomplished, and start to attach these external things to why we feel unhappy in the moment when it’s ourselves who are doing that for us. No wonder I felt so helpless. I knew this feeling of frustration was definitely not something I wanted to sit with for too long.

So I thought of my conversation the other day with Mary Cornetta from Sort and Sweet and something she mentioned; “Start with one corner.” I decided to take her amazing advice and break things down into smaller steps; mentally I was standing in a proverbial version of the cluttered garage that she mentioned, not even knowing where to start. So instead of thinking of everything at once, I simplified it to one thing at a time so I could start moving. What is one thing I can do today? Make myself breakfast-check. Do my laundry-okay done. Compile a list of article ideas for the guest blogging I’m doing for a martial arts site-complete.; you get the idea here. And gradually, the feeling of frustration lessened. I may not be exactly where I want to be- but I think I need to first make myself something to eat and get my laundry finished so I have something to wear, right? After that, I realized I needed to make a list of what it is that I truly want, because I never want to feel like my happiness is with anyone else or anywhere else but right where I am.

What are simple things you can start doing for yourself to get out of your own clutter? Break it down into smaller steps. Make a list of what you can do, save the rest for later. Have you had any similar feelings lately? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Decluttering your mind

Sort and Sweet’s founder Mary Cornetta tells us how to get organized

By Jessica Militello

Since part of my niche is getting past doubts and unhealthy thought patterns in order to achieve peace within yourself and pursue what truly makes you happy, I knew I wanted to have a chat with Mary Cornetta, the founder of Sort and Sweet, a professional organizing and decluttering brand. While the brand is focused on home and office space, I had a feeling the process of decluttering your mind in order to start out on a dream or new habits would be similar. We talked about clearing out those unnecessary doubts, getting organized, and breaking down goals into smaller steps in order to achieve the life you truly want and deserve.

 JM: Tell me about your brand Sort and Sweet and the art of organizing.

MC: I started Sort and Sweet in 2017 after about a decade of wanting to be a professional organizer. I graduated college in 2007 and I went to a NAPO meeting, (National Association of Professional organizers.), so at 20-something years old, I decided I wanted to be an organizer. I thought that it was something I could make a career out of, and interestingly enough, I talked myself out of it. I had a lot of mental clutter; I decided I was too young, I wasn’t smart enough. I didn’t have the startup funds to start my own business, I wouldn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t go to business school, all of that. So I waited, I worked a ton of other different types of jobs, and then in 2017, finally I decided, I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to be an organizer. I had worked for other organizers, I dabbled in it, I did it for myself, for friends, and family, so I finally just ripped the band-aid off and decided I was good enough, I was smart enough, and I can absolutely do this on my own. About a year later, I met my now business partner Margaret, who I met working for another organizer years prior, we lost touch, and long story short, she became co-owner of Sort and Sweet and we’ve evolved since she officially came on board in January 2019. Primarily we work with the physical side of things, I know you and I are going to talk about the mental side a little bit here, but it’s all tied together.

Sort and Sweet founder Mary Cornetta photo credit: instagram.com/maryccornetta

JM: I really like that you mentioned when you first thought of starting your own business, all those initial doubts came up. And for a lot of people, I think that’s kind of like the start and end sometimes, like they’ll get a really great idea and then all of a sudden, get hit with an avalanche of doubts. How can someone sort through that to get started?

MC: That’s a great question. So it obviously took me a decade to get to that point, and I think when it boiled down to it, the situation that I was in, which was-working for somebody else, not being happy, not being paid my worth, feeling like I was just not living my purpose. And my soul was kind of getting crushed a little bit more every day making the same exact commute every day, it really started to kill me. So my fear became smaller than my pain of being in the situation that I was in, and my frustration and all that. So maybe a better way to put it is my desire to get out of my situation and to work for myself and to live my passion overcame my fear of, “what if I’m not good enough, what if I fail?” That was the changing point for me, when I decided that life is too short and that I needed to go after what made me happy. I knew I had a gift to give to people and when you start thinking about the person that you can help with your gift, versus how scared you are, that also shifts the focus too. It helps you to start to get the confidence to move forward because it absolutely is overwhelming.

JM: And one thing I remember that you’ve told me which was really helpful was getting a part-time job in the beginning while you started your business-so how did you transition from corporate life to self-employed?

MC: I didn’t rush into things, I did leave my corporate 9 to 5 job, but instead of just leaving that with no other means of income, I was able to find, fortunately, a part time job that was very flexible, so I worked it around the business as it was growing. And then when the time came, where I had replaced my income with my business, that’s when I left the part time job, and I’ve been doing it full time ever since. I worked in pharmaceuticals, absolutely unrelated to what I was doing, but it didn’t matter because it paid my bills. And as long as I got my numbers in at the end of the week, my manager didn’t care what days or hours I worked. It was something that I manifested, and I have to point that out. I wrote it down, like everything else in my life. I wrote that I wanted a part time job that pays me X amount of money that is flexible. But you have to be organized to do that. Mentally, you have to be able to switch hats, especially if you’re in a completely different field, like pharmaceuticals and organizing. And because this is leading into the time aspect of things, you have less time. So the more organized you are, in order to physically tackle having less time, that’s super important.

JM: What was a useful first step in getting organized and approaching something like starting a business?

MC: When I decided to start the business, I did things very slow and very meticulous. I made a list of everything I needed. I sort of reverse engineered it, where I thought okay, what is my end result? How do I get one paying client? I need to have a bank account set up, so I have to get a DBA or an EIN number, something that I can give to the bank to open up the account. I need to have a website in order to market [the brand], so I just back pedaled and I wrote down every single thing that I needed to do to get this business up and running. I didn’t have any help, I essentially just googled everything and I asked around, I got referrals, so I did have help in that sense. I wrote down the steps so I could see them, which I think helps a lot of people whenever you have mental clutter, to see in black and white exactly what you need.

photo credit: instagram.com/maryccornetta

JM: When we’re thinking of the whole picture, and we’re already six steps ahead of ourselves, writing it out is such a small and easy thing. And I like how before you were mentioning, like breaking it down into simple steps, like getting one paying client, that makes it so much less overwhelming.

MC: Physical organizing and mental organizing are different, in a sense, but it is the same process. So when I walk into a home that has a ton of clutter and I go into the garage and it’s a hot mess, I could very easily be like, hell no, I don’t even know where to start. Back in the day, I used to be like that, and I’ve trained myself and now my clients work on this too, where we start with one corner, and when that’s done, then we move on to the next one. It’s very similar with our brains, rather than looking at, okay, I have zero business to I want a successful booming business, there’s a ton of things that are super overwhelming in between, so let’s just break it down into one thing that we need to focus on. I write a lot down, I also just get rid of things when I’m done with them, like when I’m done with a notebook, unless there’s something in there that I absolutely need to refer back to, I will most likely either take a picture of it, or I will transcribe it into my Google Drive, and get rid of the notebooks. From a mental standpoint, it’s just acknowledging when we have mental clutter. I worked with a life coach before I started the business, because I realized how much mental clutter I had. I needed somebody to help me get rid of it and to put the positive thoughts in my head, because negative thoughts are mental clutter, so I had to acknowledge first that I had a lot of it, and I was lacking confidence to start this business. There are ways that you can do it yourself, by acknowledging that you have the mental clutter to begin with, catching yourself saying things. Once you start recognizing that pattern of negative thoughts and catching yourself, there’s a lot of different ways [to work on it], but once you acknowledge it, it becomes so much easier to get rid of, but you have to admit it first.  

JM: I think even with the act of having clutter in your room or office, that’s like a mental process in itself and that’s why I think it’s similar to the mental clutter and what you were saying about stopping it in its tracks so it doesn’t become a habit.

MC: Yeah- you want to stop it at its source. I’m going to say a couple of things now that hopefully will be big light bulbs. Number one, physical clutter is an external representation of internal clutter. So a lot of times when we have chaos internally, it shows- the sink is filled with dishes, the laundry is piled up, countertops get piled up, because we’ve got a lot going on. And another very important component of clutter; it’s not just physical, it’s not just mental-we clutter up our calendars by over scheduling ourselves. And I think, post-COVID it’s a little bit different. I definitely know for myself, I slowed down despite going back to work full time. Once quarantine was over, it just wasn’t the same as it was before, and that’s not a bad thing. But a lot of times we let clutter pile up because we’re just go-go-go all the time and we overstuff our calendar. The clutter is basically unnecessary shit; the physical is unnecessary stuff in your house that you don’t need, and the mental is unnecessary thoughts and emotions that are taking over your brain and body that you do not need.

photo credit: instagram.com/maryccornetta

JM: Sometimes people will say they don’t have time or it’s too late, but do you think that is just like clutter and what advice could you give to those people?

MC: When it comes to not having enough time, or someone feeling like it’s too late for them to go ahead and to start living their dream life, I’m going to be blunt, it’s just an excuse. Everybody has the same exact 24 hours and it really only means that you don’t want it bad enough. But some people don’t necessarily realize how badly they want something because they’re so crowded with the clutter of their day to day lives and they don’t know their “why.” It’s hard for them to get out of their every day, clutter and stressful schedules to actually sit back and picture what their lives would be like on the other side. And there’s nothing wrong with admitting that you don’t want something bad enough. But you have to stop saying you want something and not do anything about it because that means you don’t want it. So by writing down your “why” and really scheduling time out to picture what you want and why you want it, it’ll help you realize how badly you want it.

photo credit: instagram.com/maryccornetta

To find out more about Sort and Sweet go to- sortandsweetny.com  or find them on Instagram- Instagram.com/sortandsweet 

Instagram.com/maryccornetta

Inspiring and fun interviews coming soon!

By Jessica Militello

When I first started extraeclectic, I wasn’t exactly sure if the site would only include self-improvement editorial types of articles, or if I would also include feature articles and Q&A’s, similar to my published work. Mostly the reason that I was unsure of doing this was because I was afraid that if I was reaching out to different people, business owners, etc. to interview them that because it was going on my own website and not a publication that perhaps it wouldn’t be worth their time.

As a freelance writer of around two years, I was also afraid that by doing feature articles to publish on my own site, that somehow, because my site is fairly new, does not have a ton of traffic (yet), and I’m still in the progress phase of growing my site through traffic and eventually advertisers, that I was a failure to be doing the same work for free that I am used to getting paid for. But if you notice, many of the things that I just mentioned all involve worries, doubts, and negative self-talk which are normal to have and that is okay. What is not okay is allowing those fears to be a reason to not do something that I believe in. With continued dedication, consistency, and research, I do believe my dream of creating a supportive community on my site and helping to inspire others to pursue their dreams can gain traction-but it will not be an overnight thing.

Needless to say, so far 2021 isn’t exactly much different from 2020. And no one really knows exactly when life will go back to “normal,” as we keep talking about since last March. I decided that perhaps now is as good a time as any to put into practice the same thing that I try to inspire people to do when I write articles on whoever I find is pursuing their dream.

And so, most recently I have been speaking different individuals, artists, business owners, anyone that I think has a really interesting story to inspire, help, entertain, and share great information and advice for readers to be informed and inspired to pursue their passion. I can’t wait to share these with you!

What is something you want to do, but feel afraid to try? How did it feel when there was something that you kept putting to the side and when you finally gave it a try? Tell me your experiences in the comments!

Do people treat you how they feel about you?

Do others really show you how much they value you?

By Jessica Militello

I see a lot of quotes floating around social media like, “how they treat you is how they feel about you,” “how much effort they put in is how valuable you are to them,” “you teach people how valuable you are,” and another one that floats around to the effect of, “I’ve seen people who can’t communicate/commit/ whatever for one and do it for another” and once again corelate it to how “valuable” they find you or how “serious” they are about you, and I am here to tell you that this one-dimensional, black and white thinking could not be further from the truth.

Additionally, what is all of this focus on what other people think of you or how much they value you and why do you give a fuck? What do you think of you? How much do you value yourself, because when you think highly of yourself and know your worth and intrinsic value, and when you carefully curate your own thoughts and the people who you allow in your life you will be more focused on whether how they are treating you is meeting your standards, and if they don’t-no sweat, because you know what you want and deserve for your life, and you treat yourself so well that when someone doesn’t measure up there is no wondering of why and how much they really value you. There are no questions period because you value yourself so much that you will not accept behavior that is less than the way you treat and talk to yourself.

Pay more attention to how you feel about you because when you look to others and whether they value you to determine how you should feel about yourself, your cup will always be empty. You will always be waiting for someone, anyone to give you just a drop to roll around in your cup-it will always be empty. Know your value, know your worth-because when you feel good about you, I can guarantee-the people that add to that feeling will be in your life, and the people who drain you and make you question yourself will not even be allowed in your life to begin with. Even if that means being lonely for a while until you find your people, it will be worth it because you know what you deserve.

And as a second point to the whole theory of how others treat you and what it means-change happens on a scale of 5 steps-I actually wrote about it in another article. A person, job, popularity, whatever, can not magically make a person go through the five steps of change especially if it involves undoing a behavior or thought pattern that they have been carrying with them for most of their life.

People don’t wake up one day and magically change-change is fucking hard and is a constant commitment. An individual must first observe patterns and behaviors in themselves that are problematic and constantly work on improvement. Another person’s kindness, beauty, success is not a magic wand to create a complete personality transplant in another. People treat you how they feel about themselves. Another person cannot value you if they don’t even value themselves.

Have you ever been that relative/friend/girlfriend/spouse, who was super loyal, loving, and kind to another and no matter how much you gave it was never enough? Yes? Have you also ever in your life had a relative/friend/spouse, whatever at a time in your life when you did not have a good relationship with yourself and no matter what they did or how much they cared it was never enough? And was it ever because THEY were the ones that didn’t have value? No-of course not-maybe you were too guarded, too immature, or were just not introspective enough with yourself to appreciate it or value it. Maybe someone was so good to you but because you felt so badly about yourself you just couldn’t believe it and you questioned every kind word and gesture and pushed them away only to later regret it.

Let’s face it-we’ve all been on both sides of it, but if you think about it objectively it was never because you or they did not have value or because you were not worth the effort-what did it all have to do with? Your thoughts and your relationship with yourself.

Trust me, I have lived in the prison of gauging my value with how others have treated me-it was draining. I held on to unhealthy friendships and relationships that weren’t even meeting my needs but I put them over myself because I did not have any self-worth. If I dated someone and they treated me like gold in the beginning only for the effort and kindness to diminish, I blamed myself or worried that they somehow discovered the “big secret” that I was not worthy of love. Instead of folding, I only tried harder. It makes me sad to think of how hard I would try because I could not see myself clearly. But I am also grateful for it all because had I not gotten to the point of getting hurt over and over because of my lack of self-worth, I would have never learned that there was a different way that involves healing myself and giving myself all of the things that I have spent my life looking outwardly for the answers.

It sounds corny and a little cliché, but everything you’re looking for is already within you. You just have to clear out the bullshit you’ve been taught your whole life about your worthiness and stop looking to others to how valuable you are or why you supposedly weren’t “worth” their time.

You are worthy, you are valuable-but the only person you need to prove that to is yourself, otherwise you wouldn’t be looking at others to tell you what you’re worth; no one can do that for you, only you can.

What are some beliefs that you are holding onto about yourself? How are these ideas serving you, how are they holding you back? What would it look like if you always had your back? How can you give yourself some of the things that you are looking for in others? Share some of your thoughts in the comments.

2020 was not the worst year ever

Before my headline turns you off-hear me out.

By Jessica Militello

As the year comes to a draw, most of us have a tendency to reflect on the year as a new year approaches. As we all know, this year was certainly not like any year that we’ve had in our lifetimes. We have survived mass shutdowns of society, a pandemic that is still going on; everything normal that we often take for granted was and for some of us still is just out of our reach as we wait and hope for a return to normal life.

But even among all of this complete upheaval of our lives, many of us still have a tendency to criticize ourselves for what we didn’t accomplish. We still look at others from a completely outside view and compare and despair. Sometimes it feels easier to look at what we don’t have than how far we’ve come. And if you didn’t get where you wanted to be that’s okay- it is normal to strive for more, and to want more-but when does a little healthy self-critique go too far? When you begin to criticize yourself or think of yourself as not as good, or good enough, or less than others, is when it isn’t healthy. Striving for more is amazing; dragging yourself for not getting there yet will do nothing but make you feel bad or get frustrated enough to just throw in the towel.

When you look at your losses, or your incompletes, make sure you also make another few columns to take inventory of what you’ve accomplished, and how you are going to prepare to accomplish what you didn’t get to this year. Some things were completely out of your control, and there’s other things that are a matter of getting a little creative and finding a different way to get to your path.

In the beginning of the year I thought for sure I was going to make more money as a writer, land work in bigger publications, finally make writing my full-time source of income instead of taking second part-time gigs to supplement my income. But March rolled around, and NYC was the epicenter of the pandemic. We had a complete shutdown, I got taken off of a couple of larger projects that I was just starting to work on after publications nixed their freelance budget to allow “remaining” staff writers to finish it off, and then we waited for what we all thought would have been a couple of weeks that turned into over 5 months.

But you know what else happened-I deleted social media for over 8 months to focus on myself, I continued my therapy sessions, I took up meditating, journaling, and spent a lot of time with myself. I healed from a heartbreak that started off my 2020, I raised my standards, developed more self-worth, created boundaries for my relationships with myself and others, and I let go of people who no longer served my growth, happiness, and well-being. In retrospect, I realize this year was not about financial or career success, but about healing myself, decluttering my mind, and building my self-worth.

It may not have been the year I expected, but it was what I needed. And now that I continue to do the hard work on my inner-self- I feel like it can only better me for going back after my writing goals, for curating my life and the people I allow in it. Because without self-worth you will accept anyone and anything in your life because you are desperate to belong, to feel validated, and will accept much less than what you want and deserve because without self-worth you will feel like any crumbs thrown your way are a prize. Without self-worth you will believe that you are only “good enough” when others accept you or pay attention to you. I am so impressed with how much I’ve grown-but this was what my year was about; everyone is on a different journey and has different experiences. But had the world not been shut down, I would not have been forced to face myself in such an intense and intimate way.

At the end of this year, I am grateful for it all because it led to this amazing growth that I have achieved- it was often painful as hell, confusing, and seemingly never-ending. I’m proud of myself for going through the storm-sometimes I thought I wouldn’t make it to the other side.

None of it was easy-the loneliness I went through from raising my standards and letting go of certain people in my life was debilitating at times. That loneliness made it tempting to make exceptions for those who could not meet me where I now stand. But I did not go through the storm to go all the way back to where I started.

I know there are some people who feel this was their worst year ever and I cannot speak for others’ experiences, their pain, losses, or disappointments. If this is how you feel-your feelings are valid. But after you do that I would implore you to look at some of what you’ve gained and learned and what you want for your next year; to find a way to face your pain and clear out the thoughts and experiences that are no longer serving you so you can go on. At some point you have to let your pain go or it will continue to weigh you down and keep you stagnant.

So what do you think? How was your 2020- what were some of your losses and gains, and what do you want for your life for the new year? How will you get started? How can you start to heal yourself? Just a few questions to think on- share in the comments below-

How to start setting boundaries

It’s never too late to change your life

By Jessica Militello

Honestly I didn’t even know how to start this article. It’s one I’ve wanted to write for a long time but the brutal honesty of it all made me want to avoid sharing it and I also felt like a fraud doling out advice on something I’m still learning about.

I grew up in a home where there was always so much drama going on involving other people, that I learned my role and the way to be lovable was to keep my feelings and thoughts to myself; that other, way worse things were going on, and I couldn’t possibly ask my primary caretakers for help because it was selfish to “need” anything when there was already so much chaos going on.

I learned to be their caretakers, in a sense, from a young age. They couldn’t even get their own shit together- in my young mind, I needed to learn how to take care of myself. Through observing these relationship dynamics, I learned to stay quiet, put other people’s thoughts and feelings before mine, and to basically be invisible. The few times I did try to speak up in those instances, my feelings were often dismissed or minimized, followed by being shamed for having those feelings.

Throughout my life, before learning about all this and doing the healing work to grow from it, naturally, all of these patterns and behaviors I observed growing up played out in all my relationships. I didn’t trust my instincts because I would often dismiss my own feelings in light of someone else’s, struggled to communicate when I felt uncomfortable or wanted to say no to things, constantly felt guilty if/when I would put my own needs first, settled for poor behavior and careless treatment and justified it by worrying about what they were “going through” at the time, or told myself they probably didn’t mean it or that I was just being too sensitive or some other jedi mental gymnastics reasoning to blame myself for their poor behavior. And because I constantly struggled to communicate my own thoughts and dismissed my own feelings, I landed in relationships and friendships with people who did the exact same thing to me. I would hold onto resentment and in many times get to a point where holding in my thoughts resulted in me getting mad and lashing out at the other person for boundaries and communication that I struggled to convey.

Learning to have boundaries is a multi-step process- but there are steps you can take to get you headed in the right direction that you can totally get started on by yourself. So grab a notebook and a pen and let’s get started.

Observe the origin story of your lack of boundaries by reflecting on what you were taught growing up

I realize this first bullet point may be difficult because it is asking you to honestly look at a portion of your life that you may have spent many, many years minimizing or diluting your true thoughts and feelings on. But this first part is really crucial in realizing why you have certain patterns. This helps for having empathy for yourself and understanding in a non-judgmental way, why you are the way you are up to this point in your life. I really don’t need you to dig super deep on this one. If a lot of feelings are coming up on having to reflect on childhood memories, what could be helpful is recollecting on it from a third-person point of view in order for it to feel less heavy. How did the adults in your family talk to each other, what happened when someone made a mistake, or someone’s feelings got hurt? How did communicating take place or not? How were disagreements and arguments resolved? Was there talking it out, listening to each other’s feelings, any apologizing? Did everyone just pretend it didn’t happen and swept everything under the rug? Whatever you remember, or think may be important-write it down. It’s important to make sense of how your inner critic has been developed from your entire life, so if you minimize and judge your own thoughts and feelings, it is most likely because it is what you observed and eventually learned how to treat yourself/others. Again, I don’t need you getting super deep on this especially if you don’t want to. We don’t need to delve into every memory and feeling from the past, we’re just trying to get an idea of where these ideas originated from.

Taking an honest look at your own relationships

Now that you’ve objectively looked at what patterns you observed growing up, it’s time to look at your own friendships/relationships. Are there any that immediately stand out? Dynamics of past/present relationships where you hold resentment for things you did for a person, or feel depleted and used? Any kind of relationship that you look back on where you felt your voice was not heard, your feelings didn’t matter, or where the other person just took and took and then left you on the side of the proverbial highway? As life and relationship coach Mark Groves says, “you are part of the dance.” And as I like to say-the only way someone can waste your time is if you give them your time in the first place. Any relationships where I’ve held resentment of all I did or sacrificed without getting equal effort and consideration in return was because I chose to put that person and their feelings above my own or I chose to constantly give in order to “prove” my value. If I felt I constantly gave and they mostly took, it is because I lacked the self-worth at the time to realize there is never anything you need to do to prove your value or necessity in their life. It can also reflect overcompensating for your abandonment issues by trying to prove how useful you are. This is a self-worth issue which plays into boundary setting, because if you have no self-worth then you can’t set boundaries, but when you have no boundaries, you’re going to have a hell of a time building any self-worth. It’s a vicious cycle. Realize the roles you both played in these friendships/relationships-forgive yourself, forgive them. Look at it as a learning experience and then realize how dynamics you learned growing up played out in these adult relationships of yours. It’s always good to look at any relationships, past or present, reflect on what was good and bad about it, what you did best, and what you would like to work on about yourself. Your relationships with others can only get better when the relationship with yourself improves. If you don’t like yourself, you will constantly be flattered by any validation or attention you get from others. You will accept any relationships/friendships because when you have no self-worth you have minimal standards for the way others treat you because you are desperate for any kind of belonging. But now that you know this, you totally have the chance to turn it around.

Build your self-worth

As I wrote just a few sentences ago, when you have low self-worth you will struggle to have boundaries. When it’s more important to be liked, you will settle for a lot of nonsense. Speak your truth, communicate how you really feel without worrying about scaring a person away, stop saying yes to things you don’t want to do. Stop being afraid of what will happen when you show your true self to others-you know what will happen? The people meant for your life will stay, and the others will fall away. You have to learn to like yourself and enjoy your own company so that you don’t even allow people in your life who cannot meet simple standards of respect and consideration.

Learn what your standards and non-negotiables are for your relationships

A lot of this is all inter-connected and I don’t really see it as a matter of consecutive steps, which is why I didn’t number any of these points. You do need to first realize your intrinsic value to even be able to set standards, but having standards and sticking to them builds self-worth, so it all builds together. What are the standards that you have for yourself? Write them down. Sometimes it just goes back to the golden rule; treat others the way you would like to be treated, but also don’t allow yourself to be treated in any way that you would not treat others.

People are not mind readers-you still need to communicate

In the early stages of learning about boundaries, there can be a tendency to go to extremes in order to make up for a boundary-less past. You may know what you want and deserve, but struggle with feeling defensiveness and forecasting of your feelings being minimized. Setting boundaries doesn’t mean everyone will magically fall in line. This is the hard part because sometimes people who you really want to meet your standards may falter. Communication is extremely important. Everything is not personal, and we can’t just assume what we think others should know. This is the time to have a conversation in a very objective, fact-based way by noting a pattern and how it makes you feel, an openness for discourse, as well as a suggestion or solution. But if they completely dismiss and invalidate your feelings then that is more so where the red flag lies. Adjust accordingly. You might have the best of times with someone but they are just unable to meet you where you are. They may not be in the phase of change to even acknowledge it or do something about it. You have to know your worth and when others act or fail to act in a way that is hurtful and just not okay to you. Sometimes you have to distance yourself, and in some cases if things are unhealthy, end the friendship/relationship. It’s not always easy, but you have to know your worth and your non-negotiables as well as stick to them.

Are you learning more about setting boundaries? What has worked for you so far? Share some of your experiences in boundary setting in the comments.

Can People Change?

 When they want to, have a plan to, and a discipline to stick to it

By Jessica Militello

We try to implement new habits and hobbies, or see a motivational quote that inspires us only temporarily, or we see statements about others, suggesting what they didn’t do for you, they easily will do for the next person, or if they took you seriously enough, they would have changed, and if they didn’t change for you and they did with someone else it’s because of how they felt about you. With such one-dimensional quotes out there about our relationships and overly simplified advice on change it’s no wonder we judge ourselves for not being able to improve overnight, or why we think others can just magically change for us based on our own expectations and projections.

Well first of all, people treat you how they feel about themselves, not how they feel about you. And secondly you are not magical- not to change yourself quickly and simply, or for your worth or perceived lack of it to make someone go through the five steps of change all the way to the maintenance phase and continue it.

Wait- five steps? Don’t people just easily and magically transform for a job or a person like these stupid quotes say? Well who am I to tell anyone what to believe, but the next time you wonder why you can’t simply change your thoughts and habits almost overnight, or if your worth can magically transform someone else’s, let’s go over the five steps to change to even see what it takes for change to occur.

  1. Precontemplation- Before you even begin trying to change something you need to have some kind of thoughts that recognize that your behaviors are somehow not conducive to your best self. Let’s start with something simple- Every time you go out with your friends on a Friday night for dinner, you end up ordering drinks, staying out until 3 in the morning, and you realize that every time you do this, the next day when you wake up for work, you feel tired, hung over, sick, moody, and it feels like the longest day ever. That is as far as precontemplation goes. And the next week despite knowing all this, you do it again anyway because you’ve only got as far as pondering that perhaps this isn’t working for you, but you aren’t ready to change. Notice this all has to do with you, how you feel, what you think, what choices that you are making, and what’s comfortable and familiar. Okay-great, now for the next step.

2. Contemplation- This step involves considering different options or ways to go about what you were in precontemplation over. These phases do not necessarily go on any kind of trajectory either. You can be in precontemplation over something for years and never go further. But staying with our Friday night example, you may recognize you are not 21 years old anymore, your hangovers take a bit longer to recover from, you look and feel like complete shit the next day, and you realize that this kind of living is not working for you. In this step, you may consider having this kind of outing on a Saturday night instead since you are off from work on Sundays. You may consider drinking less or going home earlier, or perhaps not doing something like this every single weekend, but again you still have not acted upon it, these are all just thoughts that are beginning to swirl around in your mind.

3. Preparation- Okay so Saturday morning you woke up late, hung over, got to work late, fell asleep at your desk, and your boss caught you and you got in a lot of trouble. Your bad habits are affecting more than your beauty sleep; now it’s affecting your work. Something that affects you in a serious way, like getting in trouble at work for example, may make you take your ideas to change a bit more seriously. It could also be an experience that you add to the contemplation box and still do absolutely nothing about because you are just not ready to change your habits. You’ve met up with these friends every Friday for the past 10 years and for whatever reason you just aren’t in a place to make changes. Sometimes what is comfortable and what you’re used to takes precedent over making a change even if you know that the change is for the better. But, for the sake of explaining preparation-you getting in trouble was finally your wake up call, so you decide that next Friday you are definitely going to only have two drinks and go home by midnight.

4. Action- It’s time to follow through on your plan. You told all your friends and yourself the new rules- two drinks max and home by midnight. Your friends say okay, but they give you a hard time about it. But for the first two Fridays you totally stuck with the plan. You woke up on Saturday morning feeling way better and you’re super proud of yourself. But you’re in a group chat and your friends are talking about stories and sharing jokes about things that happened after you left! You feel a little left out and annoyed that your “new rules” are ruining your fun. Well- next Friday you aren’t going to miss out again, plus you’ll just make sure not to put your alarm clock on snooze, so you at least get to work on time. You stay out late, you still hit snooze the next morning, and you still show up to work super late and hung over. So much for step 4- you know this change is good for you but you’re not liking the results so far- back into step 2 of change. See how easy it is to go back on the steps? Imagine something harder like beliefs you were taught your whole life about love, relationships, eating habits, or maintaining a healthy weight. These steps, similar to grieving are not at all linear and can start, stop, restart, and stop again depending on the difficulty of the change and how long you’ve been maintaining the kinds of life or mindset that you are trying to reform.

5. Maintenance- As it would appear from my example, you went through with all the steps, but you were not yet in a place to maintain it. A big part of maintenance is recognizing that what’s best for you is not usually going to have the instant gratification or reward we are generally seeking for making a change. In the Friday night example, you knew what you were doing was not conducive to how you felt and it affected your life, but you had a hard time breaking a habit, and doing what was best for your situation by maintaining the changes, and accepting that missing out on some fun was a bit of a sacrifice for your job, health and happiness. Some models of the steps of change actually consider it a six-part process including relapse because it is completely normal to struggle with maintaining a change.

I wanted to keep my example simple by using the Friday night story, but you can take it and change it to anything. These five steps are not so simple, not only for how others choose to or fail to show up for us, but also for us to have compassion for ourselves for when we struggle with changes we want to make and stagger forward and backward at times. What I like about knowing these five steps is it helps me to be mindful not only with myself, but with others. If changes are this hard to make when we recognize there’s a problem, it would be impossible for someone who has not even started the precontemplation step. On the other side of it, while it’s nice to have empathy for someone else’s struggles to do better as a person, we also need to recognize when their inability to address their own habits and behaviors becomes a detriment to our own well-being. So the next time you are struggling, have compassion for yourself and others, but also recognize if someone is unable to change. People don’t just change when they want to change. Not for a job, a relationship, or anything else. We change when we want to, are ready to, have a plan to, and a dedication and discipline to stick to said plan- save this as a note to self and anyone else too.

Coping with Loneliness in a Pandemic (or just in life in general)

Use your mind for you, not against you

By Jessica Militello

Before all this pandemic stuff descended into our lives, people were already struggling as a society with loneliness. According to a study by Cigna in January 2020, 3 in 5 Americans feel lonely. With the pandemic, most people have struggled with feeling even more isolated.

If the monotony of pandemic life has been bringing you down-please know it is normal to feel lonely, bored, angry, sad, worried about when the fuck this is all going to end, and wanting to return to a normal life.

We may not always be in control of what happens to us, but we can control how we think and feel about it, and take steps to better our situation, at least for the sake of our mental health and peace. In light of my own feelings in dealing with all of this, I thought I could try to help others by compiling a list of actions and ideas to help you to deal with similar feelings, many of which can apply to loneliness in general, whether there’s a pandemic or not.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings, be understanding that this is not a normal time, and have some compassion for yourself

I’m not sure if anyone expected some quick fix “make all your troubles go away” type of article, but if that’s what you’re looking for, it doesn’t exist. It’s okay to just acknowledge everything is fucked up right now. What does denying this do for you? Let me tell you something about pushing feelings down- it doesn’t work. Why? Because all you did was store them away for a later date. You can’t run from yourselves, ladies and gentlemen. There’s an episode of the original Twilight Zone called “Stopover in a Quiet Town,” where a couple find themselves in this perfect-suburbia neighborhood and it is completely empty, creepy as fuck, and they have no idea how they got there and all they want to do is leave wherever the fuck it is that they are. Toward the end of the episode they find a train station, they get on the train and they’re super-excited that they’re escaping this nightmare of a creepy, empty town where there’s no one there, only to lift the shades in their window seat to realize they didn’t actually go anywhere. They thought they were going somewhere because they were moving and guess what? They went in a big ass circle and ended up exactly where they started. Now where am I going with that very long run-on sentence of a story? That is you every time you feel an uncomfortable feeling that you don’t like and don’t want to deal with, so you run from it. It comes out eventually. It spills out when something or someone random upsets you and you flip the fuck out over what may have been frustrating or annoying but wasn’t actually that big of a deal, or when you date someone new but you still carry around the hurt from your last relationship because you pushed it down, and everything you feel in your new relationship, happy or sad scares you, so you run. Feelings are information, they tell you something so you can learn about yourself, grow, and better yourself. There is a lot going on right now in the world in general-A LOT. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Reevaluate the role that social media is playing for you and your thoughts-adjust accordingly.

I have very strong feelings about how stupid and pointless I think it is to spend time curating your life to appear a certain way to not only friends and family, but acquaintances, people who feel neutral about you, exes, and complete fucking strangers, instead of spending the time focusing on yourself and doing things that truly add to your happiness. There is definitely a way to curate your Instagram so that you are getting fun, interesting, and helpful information, but if you are mindlessly scrolling, comparing yourself to others, then I would suggest at least seriously minimizing the amount of time you spend daily on it. I personally deleted my Instagram for almost a year before I got back on, and the way I use it now is so different to the past when I was unhappy with myself and using it when I was bored or seeking validation. There are plenty of apps that can help you with time management with your phone use. You can even set a timer and when it runs out, okay, back to reality-literally. Especially during a pandemic, with increased anxiety, depression, and worry- minding other people’s curated business is not doing anything good for you.

3. Stop waiting for people to reach out to you and throwing a pity party for one when it doesn’t happen

When we feel lonely all of our interactions or lack thereof are put under a microscope thanks to the annoying inner critic in our head that likes to play detective to prove its point to us about how not important and forgotten we really are. Don’t play this game with yourself and then get mad at everyone else for how you made yourself feel. It goes a little something like this- we feel lonely, have critical thoughts about how we aren’t good enough, we think of people that we’d like to talk to, and then when they somehow don’t telepathically see our bat call to reach out, we feel badly and it makes us feel more lonely. What you are looking for is validation from others-validation that you matter, are important, and have value. This is a big fucking mistake because you are putting your worth in the eyes of others. Have you lived on that roller coaster before? I have- when people validated me, I felt amazing, when they didn’t, I felt inadequate and would find other ways to fill my voids. First and foremost, lonely in a pandemic, or just lonely on a Friday night, you have to realize you matter, you are important, and you belong- whether you are spending time by yourself or you’re in a room filled with 20 people. If you don’t feel good about you when you’re alone, those same doubts will be your plus-one at an amazing party (when we’re allowed to have one of those again.) This is something you can evaluate and focus on with that time you freed up from using Instagram so much. However, I’m taking you a bit into the weeds on self-worth, so let me bring you back around to the subject. As soon as you get out of your head about needing other people’s validation- if you’re lonely and want to talk, well, God damn, pick up your phone and text, call, or video chat with a friend. Are they someone who majority of the time answers, reciprocates, and enjoys your conversation? -well, there you go. Listen- there’s a difference between someone who isn’t necessarily the first person to be blowing up your phone with calls and texts, and someone who just feels neutral about you or disinterested. Listen to your gut-you will know the difference. And if you notice that if you never reach out to them, they don’t reach out to you and you have feelings about that, then that’s fine too. This is your life-you are allowed to have thoughts about something and change your mind. You are allowed to think, “hey if I don’t call this person, they never call me, maybe I’ll leave them alone because I don’t like the way it makes me feel.”  And if you never hear from them again- well, there’s your answer. It doesn’t make them a bad person, and it doesn’t mean you don’t matter. It simply is- wish them the best and leave them be. But purposely isolating yourself because you want the ego boost from others to reach out first-NO-so pick up the phone and connect with your friends when you’re craving a chat.

4. Well- you sent that text, made that call, but they just didn’t have time for you at the moment

Uh-oh. Looks like it’s just you and your thoughts again. Now what? Well, since we’re not gonna take this as an excuse to mindlessly scroll on Instagram, maybe it’s time to grab a pen and paper and spend a little time getting to know…… (cue dramatic music) …yourself. I know, I know-sounds so boring, right? I don’t know, does it? When’s the last time you did something like this? Grade school? Never? -Okay, seriously. Make a list of really cool things you always wanted to do, you know- those random passing thoughts that you have from time to time of things you’d like to try but ultimately ignore, like learning a new language, starting that blog, watching that movie that you didn’t get to see when it first came out, starting a garden, listening to that crime podcast you thought sounded interesting, but never listened to. You get the idea here- what about things you enjoyed doing but stopped for any list of reasons? Painting, drawing, dancing? The things you bring up when someone asks what you like to do in your free time that you mention you once did but have some completely bullshit excuse of about why you stopped because you’re too embarrassed to admit that aside from work and other obligations it’s basically fucking nothing? Yeah that stuff. A pandemic can’t stop you from doing any of these things, even if it’s fitness-related, because there are many places offering free outdoor classes, livestreams, and zoom classes too. There’s many options here to keep your mind occupied. What about an event, a time in history, a topic that you were always curious about? Again-podcasts, movies, documentaries, books, and YouTube are available on pretty much every subject.

5. The great outdoors

Sometimes you gotta bring it back to basics. These days people feel a need to be doing the most fun, super exciting “Instagram-able” thing and it’s just not realistic. What did people do with their lives before all this technology and perpetual big-brotherness of watching each other’s lives via our phones? When was the last time you watched the sunset, or got up early enough to watch the sunrise, or the moonrise at night? Go for a bike ride, visit some of your local museums and parks that you never go to, get some binoculars, try some bird-watching, or star gazing, or just take a long walk and say hello to the strangers you pass by. It’s amazing how a small gesture like that can make you feel more connected. Stop and start up a conversation-plenty of people are dying for an in-person connection, and if they don’t reciprocate, that’s okay too-keep it moving.

6. Take care of your mental health

Now some of you aren’t going to want to hear it, but I don’t give a fuck. These are pressing times-therapy can help. We are probably the most accepting generation of actually dealing with, acknowledging, and taking care of our mental health through therapy, whether in-person, via the phone, texting, therapy apps, whatever works for you. The older generations didn’t have this open dialogue and acceptance of talking about and taking care of their mental health. You would never hear friends or family even discussing it to each other let alone over lunch at a restaurant. People are inside a lot, working from home, literally only working then going home, not able to see older or sick family members to reduce risk of getting them sick, out of work, what ever, you know the deal, there’s a lot happening. And if you don’t have a non-judgmental outlet for these thoughts, then please see bullet point 1 again for the result. Talk to a really compassionate, non-judgmental friend or family member,  or a therapist, journal your thoughts (seriously-daily or almost daily journaling has changed my life), but do not keep everything bottled up, or minimize your feelings and judge yourself by saying others have it worse. You’re right, others do have it worse. But if your arm was broken, would you not go to the hospital because other people who are there are suffering more or dying? No- you would get help because you having a broken arm and someone else dying are two completely separate things. Someone else having it worse doesn’t mean you don’t need help. I can give you all the tips and advice to find ways to quell loneliness, but the heavier stuff that you have to deal with is up to you.

I really hope, in the very least, this article helped someone to feel seen, know that they aren’t alone in dealing with loneliness, and have some compassion for themselves in what they’re feeling. It can be unsettling to feel isolated and alone with our thoughts and worries, but you do matter, you aren’t alone, and even though we can’t always control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to handle it. Acknowledge your feelings and take the opportunity to strengthen the relationship you have with yourself so that whether you are alone, with tons of friends, single, or in a relationship, you feel valued, important, and loved, because you already give these things to yourself and other people in your life only enhance that- they are never the sole source or provider of this. Being alone doesn’t cause loneliness, rather our expectations, thoughts, and feelings on being alone causes loneliness. But being around others also doesn’t necessarily make us feel better-it is still our thoughts and feelings about ourselves that will make us feel connected or not. If you don’t feel good about yourself, even with others’ acceptance or love, you will always question it, or it will never feel enough, so no matter what-you always have to work on your self-esteem and self-worth. You may not always feel great about the situation, but at least you know you have tools to help yourself and not feel dependent on anyone else for happiness or value.