Do you feel lonely all the time? No? Now turn off the phone.  Shut down the computer.  Live off-line for two hours when you get home from work.  Then tell me you don’t feel lonely.

Many of us have repressed our feelings of loneliness by what I call “junk-food connections.”  As a society we’ve become addicted to gossip, celebrity, fake news, entertainment, and voyeurism.  We troll the internet and social media partly for distraction from our feelings and partly to find what we really want: intimacy. Yet intimacy remains elusive.

We may not be conscious of it, but we often don’t want to put in the work required to find real intimacy. Working toward intimate relationships that feed our souls means having face to face conversations with real people, in real time, about real issues that connect us intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

Just reading this blog post may give you a sense of where I’m coming from as I deal with my loneliness.  I want to sharing my life with you here.  Yet this blog post is probably not enough.  Will it prompt you to read more about me on my website?  Will it make you curious enough to contact me and dare to tell me about your loneliness?

Deliberately moving away from “junk-food connections” to true intimacy begins in self-awareness.  Am I daring enough to sit with myself and admit what’s going on in my heart, without having to short circuit the uncomfortable feelings with distractions?

Do I empathize with the world around me and take actions that will connect me in a real way with real people?  This means going beyond the “corporate-speak” style of conversation that is emotionless, superficial, and solely business-oriented.  It means letting others be themselves, however they express themselves.

Self-awareness and empathy kick-start our heart-centered engine.  This heart-engine, more than our rational brain, strengthens our ability to deal with loneliness and other emotions, with intelligence.  And by intelligence I mean using what you know, in the right way, at the right time, in the right place, with the right intention.

But first you have to “know.”  If I don’t know when I am lonely, how can I know when to reach out to my few real friends? How can I have empathy for someone else’s loneliness?  How can I handle an invitation to intimacy with an open heart?

The solution? Get in touch with how other people are feeling, with their histories, experiences, and challenges. The only way to make sense of our own emotional landscape is to get out of ourselves and get into the lives of real people around us…and just listen.

When we listen to others with our hearts and actually use up energy doing so, we are exercising our heart-engine and drawing on our own inner strength. We can use that strength in the right way, in the right place, at the right time only after we get out of our narcissistic, self-serving shells and realize that we exist not for ourselves, but to take care of ourselves in order to serve others.

© 2017 Michael Parise
Portions excerpted from Michael’s book: Life Interrupted, Taking Charge After Everything Has Changed
Since 1979 Michael has worked with individuals and groups to take full advantage interruptions and changes to balance responsibilities, simplify their lives, and find greater productivity and peace.

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