As a society, we love to talk about what lonely people are doing wrong. Some of the advice that people give is productive and well-intentioned, but, today, I came across a quote that I absolutely disagree with. The quote was by Joseph F. Newton, who said “People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.”
People tend to think that overcoming loneliness is all about building connections with other people. As a result, most of the advice that you will hear when you tell someone that you are feeling lonely can be paraphrased as “what’s the problem? Just get out there and meet more people.”
I want to share a secret with you. Like many women over 60, I am dealing with loneliness. Some days I just feel a little isolated from the world. Other days — well, I don’t like to talk about those days. Let’s just say that there are times when the quiet corridors of my mind are dangerous places to wander.
As I walk, I see doors to little dusty rooms, holding sharp memories. Worse are the big brass doors that hold my fondest memories. These barriers stop me from spending too much time in the past, when every day was filled with my family, friends and laughter.
If you are wondering how to overcome loneliness, you may want to start by looking around your house. It is often said that your home is a reflection of your mind. They say that the choices we make in how we decorate, who we invite into our homes and how we spend our time reflect our personality and values. This is true to an extent, but, did you ever think about the fact that the opposite is also true?
Did you ever consider that the way that you organize your home may be contributing to your feelings of loneliness, or intimacy after 60?
One of the most common misconceptions about loneliness is that it goes away as we add more people to our lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many people that I know have 100’s of “friends” on Facebook. They may even live with someone else. But, they still feel lonely.
As anyone who has experienced loneliness can tell you, feeling lonely is not the same as being alone. At the same time, it is possible to have many people in your life, while still feeling lonely.
Sometimes, the circumstances that lead to our loneliness are out of our control. Some of us have lost our spouses or gone through a divorce. Others have children who are building their own lives in another part of the world.
It’s ironic that the winter holidays, which are meant to be filled with relaxation, love and peace, often turn out to be a time of stress and tension.
Loneliness is a terrible emotion. It steals the fun from life, hurts our health and prevents us from following our dreams. Unfortunately, it is also a taboo subject, which few are willing to discuss in public. So, we let it sit quietly in our hearts and convince ourselves that we are alone in our loneliness. I want Sixty and Me to be a part of the solution and, as a first step, I reached out to the members of our community to ask them about their own experiences with loneliness.
Despite everything we know about the importance of maintaining social connections as we get older, finding friends after 60 can be a challenge. As we age, the easy social connections that we enjoyed as schoolmates, parents and colleagues change. As a result, many women find themselves facing shrinking social circles and needing to make new friends. In other words, we find a void in our lives and no easy way to fill it.
Most boomer women have a strong work ethic and derive a great sense of identity from their work. After all, many of us started working when we were 15 and have worked for 45 years, so when work ends, there is often a huge void in our lives. This leaves many of us looking for ways to avoid loneliness in retirement.