Hi WhiteFlap App Folks! As it has been a chunk of time since I last blogged here, I want to
re-introduce myself. I am Raney-Mills Turner, Licensed Professional Counselor, Art
Therapist, Energy Therapist, Mother, and Lover, passionate about de-stigmatizing and
de-colonizing therapy by finding creative ways to get people the help they crave. Today, let
us explore this huge topic of loneliness, why it is globally pervasive, and what we can do
about it together.
When I was in 6th grade, my favorite song was “One” by Three Dog Night. I can remember
belting this song in my bedroom and deeply connecting to this feeling of loneliness. It was
about that age when I started to see that I did not belong where I was. I was quite literally
howling at the moon, hoping for a friend. Actually not a bad idea.
Loneliness alerts us when something is wrong, just like hunger alerts us when our bodies
need to be fed, and thirst alerts us when we are dehydrated. Loneliness is a visceral
physical longing for a connection we do not feel. If we repress the feeling, it grows louder.
If we ignore the message, it depletes us further, often leading to physical sickness. On the
United States Department of Health and Human services website, an announcement was
made in May 2023 regarding the “devastating impact of the epidemic of loneliness” stating,
“the physical health consequences of poor or insufficient connection include a 29% increased
risk of heart disease, a 32% increased risk of stroke, and a 50% increased risk of developing
dementia for older adults. Additionally, lacking social connection increases risk of premature
death by more than 60%.” It is also deadlier than smoking daily.
The epidemic of loneliness existed before the pandemic of Covid-19, and obviously the latter
only worsened the former. Loneliness is a result of trauma and neglect. It is a result of
un-belonging. It is a result of social media. It is a result of social rejection and comparisons. It is
a result of the access to the excess and our increased screen-time. It gets convoluted with
self-worth when people are seeking belonging and approval. It is deeply sad and obvious why
people end up in gangs, terrorist groups, and cults. The connection and promise of belonging is
too difficult to resist when someone’s pillar of Self is not strong enough to see the difference
between a family and an abusive collective. This is ever apparent in these darker times across
our Earth today.
As we have evolved as a human race, and mostly moved away from the multi-generational, tribal
living our ancestors once clung to, our family members are spread across the world. This
separation inherently creates a sensation of fear and a difficulty in deciphering who and what is
actually safe, so even if someone does reach out to you, there is often anxiety about what will
happen should you go through with this connection. What a lose-lose situation.
I cannot tell you how many people report feeling desperately alone, yet have too much social
anxiety to go find a new friend; and let’s just think about this. If over 55 million people in our
country alone are reporting loneliness, the plus side is that there are THAT many people
available and waiting to be your friend.
Dr. Vivek Murthy is the first Indian-American and America’s youngest Surgeon General of the
United States. He was also the first person to be sworn in on the Bhagavad Gita, rather than the
Bible. His work is worth a follow if you aren’t already. He is passionate about alleviating the
loneliness epidemic, often sharing his own story of how his loneliest feeling has been in the
busiest time of his life as Surgeon General. He attributes this to being so plugged in to work and
emails and texts that his family and friends lost their priority, as well as his stillness with his
I almost posted the framework based on six foundational pillars to establish the “National
Strategy to Advance Social Connection” here, but I would rather you take a look yourselves than
it be forced upon you. I think it is important to notice where our country is making an effort
these days, or at least Vivek seems to be. The sixth pillar is “Cultivate a Culture of Connection.” I
am going to go ahead and sum that up as Kindness. I often tell my children our religion is
Kindness, and that is where we always return.
Now that you have seen what the United States is hoping to do, let me tell you what you can do
for now if you, too, are suffering from loneliness. I would guess that 8 out of 10 clients show up
in my therapy office with an underlying deep version of loneliness, albeit masked with family
drama, relationship issues, work problems, depression, anxiety, etc.
The deeper work happens when we energetically look at “a loneliness” that is so very hard to
admit. We crave authenticity, vulnerability, and connection; and loneliness really gets in the way
of these values.
First and foremost, you are not “the loneliness.” It is a feeling that is separate from who you are.
It has developed as a warning sign, an alert, to let you know that something is not right and that
you need to take care of yourself before it gets worse. If you continue to let this loneliness take
your power, you will end up sick. Slowing down is a start. Busy-ness, urgency, multi-tasking,
social media scrolling, capitalism and consumerism – all breed loneliness. I suggest unplugging
for a while. Only use social media for local events you would like to attend in real time.
I suggest finding some quiet time in your brain and heart. Are you giving so much of your
energy to others that is an energetic depletion instead of a mutual fueling of high flowing
vibrations? You can choose to stop and say no. Choice is yours.
I suggest seeking therapy or a support group where people can remind you of your choice and
agency. The WhiteFlag App itself is a fantastic tool to help you feel more connected to others
feeling similarly to you. Solidarity diminishes loneliness. Write down ideas for how you might
enhance social connection in your life that feel achievable and safe for you. Volunteer to help
others, utilizing your own kindness as a tool that will be of mutual benefit to you and those you
help. Take ten minutes per day for ten days and intentionally focus on rebuilding your
relationship to your Self. Go inward with intention and ritual. Then, re-assess how the
loneliness is doing. Treat the loneliness with kindness, and ask it to go. What ideals or stories
are you holding onto that are feeding this loneliness?
Start by making small pacts with yourself to esteem your pillar of Self. Consider your
spirituality and your belief in something greater than you. It does not have to be the Christian
God (unless it is!) It can be the sun, the rain, an ancestor, a light grid. Find a connection to
something greater than you, and be still in the presence of that. Ask for your loneliness to be
revoked so that you can open your eyes to the magic and joy that is all around us in the smaller
things. Do not miss out on the playfulness a day can offer you, even amidst the ongoing
concerns for our Earth. Do not miss this life because of this loneliness. What is sucking your
power? “Always, a shift in awareness includes a period of isolation and loneliness as one gets
accustomed to the new level of truth. And then always, new companions are found. No one is left
alone for long,” states Caroline Myss in her book, Anatomy of the Spirit, The Seven Stages of Power
Solitude is not the same thing as loneliness. It is intentional and action-focused. If you feel like
you cannot act in order to reconnect with your power, you need to ask yourself what you are
afraid of, and then ask yourself if you are willing to die knowing that fear and loneliness kept
you from living your life. We are all alone, and we are all connected in Oneness. Clear the space
around you, and change your vibration because our world surely needs your best self right now.
In my opinion, we must first treat loneliness with kindness and care, turn off the distractions,
and move inward, returning to our Selves, and then the connections will follow suit. The
greatest gift you can give humanity is a healed life.
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