I was at a conference in a breakout session and one lawyer shared, “Even though there are 300 lawyers in my building, I feel so lonely.” Loneliness can come in many flavors. You can feel lonely from physical isolation — being locked in a room, doing research for 12 hours with little human interaction except for the steady stream of emails and Facebook breaks. You can feel lonely because you feel different — which can lead to feeling as though you don’t belong. (This is the particular flavor of loneliness I often struggle with.)
You can feel lonely because you don’t have a significant other. You can feel lonely because you don’t have people you can trust and confide in at work. You can also feel lonely because you’ve been working way too much and you feel disconnected from yourself.
When we feel loneliness, it’s easy to continue on the path to more loneliness rather than to do something about it. It makes sense that lawyers would avoid taking steps to break the loneliness because it would require vulnerability.
Also, we may engage in self-criticism for feeling lonely. We might tell ourselves it’s a sign of weakness, to suck it up, to get over it, etc.
Yet, to be lonely is surely proof that you’re human. As humans, we are subject to human emotions, including loneliness.
If you are feeling lonely or isolated, there are lots of ways to break the cycle of loneliness. Here are some suggestions:
- Take tiny actions. Email a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Call your mom. Whatever tiny action you can take to break the isolation — start there.
- See a therapist. If the loneliness feels debilitating or you’re having difficulties managing it on your own, consider seeing a therapist.
- You are not alone. Remember that everyone experiences loneliness sometimes. You are not alone. Be a good friend to yourself and be gentle.
- Take a trip. A physical change in your environment can help to foster different experiences and ideas. You don’t need to travel far — go on a camping trip, book an Airbnb in your own hometown, or go on a retreat!
- Join online communities. There are many online communities for just about every interest. Go on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and look for people who share similar interests. If you’re interested in joining a community of Mindful Lawyers, click here. We’ll be exploring the intersection of meaning, mindfulness and creativity.