Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

Why despite all the social networking, cell phones, e-mail, twitter, do I feel Lonely?
I have a good marriage, healthy happy children, a good job and I am extremely busy in my life. I just don’t understand it.

Melanie Collie

Dear Melanie;
First you need to see your doctor and make sure you have no physical issues and/or clinical depression. Once those possibilities are eliminated, there are a number of psychosocial/cultural issues that can make one feel alone in the crowed. Life gives us two basic and separate entities to deal with. The first is SELF; the second is OTHERS. There is no concrete answer as to how we balance these entities; we can only use the skills we’ve acquired and try to do our best. How you manage to balance these entities will determine the quality of your life.

We live in a codependent culture that teaches us to see others as ourselves. The one single truth I can tell you is no one sees the world exactly the way you do. In fact, no one sees the world the way anyone else does; there are 7 billion people on the planet and there are 7 billion ways of experiencing the world. The single most erroneous assumption people make is that they know what other people think, want, or need. “Other people must want, need or think what I want, need or think” –NOPE!!! In reality, no one knows what anyone else is thinking.

This belief is the main cause of confusion, chaos, miscommunication, and loneliness in a crowd. It can lead to feelings of being misunderstood, underappreciated, and taken advantage of. It is the source of most resentment. “I go out of my way for others, I put others first, no one appreciates me, people suck!” These are the things I hear people say when they operate under the assumption that they know what other people need. The axiom of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” does NOT mean “Do for others and expect them to do the same for you.” There is no reciprocity clause in the Bible; there is a caveat: if you expect absolutely nothing back, then there isn’t a problem. It is not sacrifice if you aren’t tied to the result and expect no return on your investment. But this is seldom realistic and in the case of a relationship, if there is no reciprocation, then there is no actual relationship.

This is another area where our culture screws up. We are taught that sacrifice is the basis of relationship. In truth, sacrifice is the basis of bullying. There is no negotiation in sacrifice. You give what YOU think the other person needs. Since this is seldom what they really need, you usually end up depleting yourself and essentially flushing your efforts down the metaphorical toilet. Sacrifice is bullying because it forces others to be something for you that they don’t really feel. They have to act pleased or appreciative for something they never asked for, wanted, or needed. If you are always sacrificing then you are a love bully and will only be disappointed. With the best of intentions, you want everyone to be well and happy, and you do what you can to that end… yet it makes no difference whatsoever. You see everyone’s suffering continue and you feel drained; or, worse, everyone you love ACTS happy to please you. True compassion (i.e. non codependent compassion) means getting OUT of the way. It means allowing others to be what they are, not what you want them to be.

If you learn to focus on your own intent and concentrate on building the life you want to have, this becomes a role model for others. Some people will call this selfish; in truth, it is anything but. If no one builds their own life, no new path is ever forged. Again, no one can read your mind or intent. That is your job. When your path is forged and your life is created, people will respect you for it. Ironically, affirmations happen in reverse. Only once you are successful does anyone know what your Intent was. Thus affirmation from others tends to come after you already believe in yourself.

You are lonely because you are looking to have your motivation affirmed. Unfortunately, the act of affirming personal motivation is an acquired skill – it doesn’t come naturally to our culture. We place more value on endpoints and results- but it is far more effective to affirm the Struggle, for it is that which helps to confirm who we really are. .
Interestingly, if you learn to affirm other’s motivation rather than trying to anticipate their needs, not only will you make their struggle easier but by role modeling you are actually helping create the world you would like to live in. Each new skill you learn has the potential to be learned by others and so on, you become a teacher and might actually help correct some of the dysfunction in the culture. Chances are that in doing so, you will feel less lonely. Why? Because you will be reinforcing the strengths of others rather than focusing on their foibles and failures. This puts you on the same level with them, rather than isolating you as the Benefactor. Hopefully, as people pick up on this skill you role modeled they might someday affirm your motivation, thus who you are.

None of the technological or social network devices in our culture offer anything more than superficial contact with each other. A Blackberry or Facebook page doesn’t come with relationship skills. Most of these things basically just suck our time so that the elements needed to create balance within our relationships (such as time together) never get a prime time slot in our schedules.

I hope this has been helpful.

-Dr. Brilliant Cliché

About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at dr.brilliantcliche@yahoo.com and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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3 Responses to Loneliness:

  1. Sandy says:

    Dear Melanie Collie

    I can relate to what you are feeling because I’ve been there and I understand. It is a psychosocial/cultural issue that is making you feel alone in the crowd. The truth is that you need to be wanted and want to be at the center of attention. OK, maybe it is this taught codependent culture but this is the heart of the issue. You feel needed when you do something good and others praises you.

    Well, you can’t be at the center of attention all the time. The solution is to find something challenging to do. When you engaged in the activities, you won’t feel alone. Along the way, you will meet people of your similar interest to relate. It is hard to find those challenging activities. Start small, like planning a trip.

    Life is what you make it to be. You are lonely if you chose to be.

    • Dear Sandy,

      Good advice and I believe the granny Dr. would say much the same.

      By the way your question you last posted should go up tomorrow. Thanks again for following and contributing to our blog.

  2. Another reader comments:

    jbuford39 – posted April 16, 2011 – 01:35AM EDT

    Absolutely. What do you want? and don’t feel guilty or ashamed for wanting anything. You are not selfish if you think of yourselves first. I have female patients who have felt guilty about leaving a alcoholic husband who beats them because now the “family” is broken up. There is no reason why the female has to be the eternal sacrifice, and only think of herself last, if at all.
    A doctor who deals very sensitively with this is located at http://www.DrRMotz.com (he has helped many of my female patients through difficult divorces).

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