Posts tagged ‘Loneliness’

How Do You See

 “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”

Have you heard this thought before? Whether you have or not, you have experienced the truth of this in your own life. Think about a time when you were alone in a house in the middle of the night and heard strange noises. That is enough to scare anyone. Then, because you were scared or alerted to danger, noises you might have identified easily as ice cubes dropping from the ice maker in the freezer, the furnace clicking on or off, the cat hopping from her litter box to the washing machine next to it, which then bangs against the dryer – my personal favorite — or even the thud of the newspaper landing against the door at 4:30 a.m. all sound suspicious and furtive. You know all these noises and by the light of day, you wouldn’t have heard them or paid any attention, much less felt your heart start to race. But, because YOU were on high alert, THINGS seemed alarming.


We do not see or hear things as THEY are, we hear and see things as WE are.



When we are late getting out of the house in the morning, the world conspires against us. The lights are all red, the line at the gas station is longer than usual, all the parking spaces are taken, the elevators are slow, and the coffee pot is already drained and left empty for us. When we are sad, the world confronts us with dead animals along the road and small children waiting alone for the school bus. Perhaps the most poignant example of this is when we are feeling insecure and self-conscious. You know what happens then, right? The boss walks by and doesn’t speak. The phone doesn’t ring. People call and cancel plans. Isn’t it ironic, when we feel badly about ourselves, no one wants to be around us? People avoid us.



We do not see or hear things as THEY are, we see and hear things as WE are. We create our own reality. We design our individual self-fulfilling prophesies.


I am working with a couple right now and the wife is having an outbreak of this very malady. She is sure her husband does not value or desire her. This is the self-same man who has been married to her for a quarter of a century. This very man comes and sits in marriage counseling and cries because he cannot figure out how to make his wife happy.


One thing this wife has reminded me of is that when we get ourselves in this place, whether it is mostly from anger, sadness or fear, or any of the endless manifestations of those negative emotions, rationality, evidence and plain old common sense are useless. I gestured at him sitting there, crying, to show her that he cared and was trying to please her. Her response was, “What? Him crying? Oh, he’s just doing that.”



It is not just a therapist who does not have anything helpful to say.  Our mother, husband, or best friend HAS TO SAY THAT, that positive, contradictory thing. They are mother, husband, or friend. They do not mean it. They are just being nice. When we slide down into the negative, we get ourselves mired in the misery.


teaching story about seeing what we are looking for instead of what is true is the story of an older man who lost his ax. He looked at the young man who lived next door, and thought that young man was acting suspiciously. He was not as talkative, didn’t wave hello, and seemed to the older man to be slinking around as though he felt guilty about something. The older man watched this despicable behavior and was about to confront the young man when he happened to move something in his shed and found his ax, right where he had put it. Immediately, the young man’s behavior changed.



It would be difficult to estimate how much discomfort and despair we cause ourselves. I have heard people say this “seeing” that we do is dependent on the lens through which we look, and that it would behoove us to polish our lens. Have you ever put on someone else’s glasses? You cannot see properly. Everything is blurry instead of clear, and soon you get a headache and start feeling nauseated all because your lens is cloudy and the wrong lens for you. This phenomenon is not limited to putting on someone else’s glasses. We often just choose a lens that sets us up for trouble and turmoil.



Rose-colored glasses allow us to see a rose-colored world. I remember reading that one of the characteristics of mental health was a slightly (SLIGHTLY) overly optimistic perception of one’s own attractiveness and/or abilities. Seeing things in an overly positive way will go far toward things actually being more positive.



In Alcoholic’s Anonymous they have an acronym that we will want to remember as a quick way to check our lens. The acronym is H.A.L.T. Ask ourselves if we are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. If we are, that has to be attended to before we can trust ourselves to choose a healthy lens. If we are hungry, we, of course, eat. Avoiding sugar, caffeine and alcohol at times like this is a good idea. Cereal and milk, peanut butter toast, and cheese and crackers are much more likely to be helpful. If we are tired, we need sleep. Sometimes that is not possible. In that case resting is a good idea. If all else fails, go into the bathroom and just sit alone for a few minutes. Meditation, prayer, and even taking sixty seconds to focus on something beautiful will all be quick and beneficial techniques for the weary soul.


Anger is harder to calm. Often our anger is self-righteous. We have truly been underestimated, undervalued, and underappreciated. In other words, we have been taken for granted. Often our anger is justified. Usually our anger has a sound and sensible reason for existing. Here is the issue: it divides us from those we love. It keeps us in a place where we cannot connect in a loving way. I can either be angry, or I can be connected. I know I have told you before what my mentor, Phil, used to say: “You can be right or happy. You cannot be both.” We can also be angry and separate or loving and connected. While we may have what we perceive to be good reason for our anger, it always keeps us separate.



Now, clearly, I am not talking about moral and ethical issues. Those are not things that make us angry, those are things which threaten our integrity.



Loneliness is another complicated issue. When we are lonely, we are feeling separate and isolated. The dilemma exists because we perceive loneliness as rejection. Often, however, loneliness, especially for introverts, is simply a chance to get our energy back and to renew our spirits. Loneliness is not to be confused with aloneness, though. We can be happily alone and we can be lonely in the middle of a family dinner.



Loneliness is that sense of not being understood, not being valued, not being first in someone’s priority list. When we miss someone, like a sailor and his girl back home, we are rarely lonely. We MISS the one to whom we are intimately connected. But we are not lonely because we know we are missed, too. No, loneliness is that feeling that comes on young and old, married and single, all of us at various times in our lives. Be feel outside the flow of life and disconnected from someone or something we love which we know loves us. I felt terribly lonely, in fact, after Madi, my German shepherd died. I could count on Madi. When I was sick in bed for eighteen days it was Madi who stayed in bed with me. Now, that’s a friend!



So, when we are hungry, angry, lonely or tired it is a certainty that we will not be seeing things as they are. Our vision will be blurry and out of focus. As we said, hunger and tiredness have logical solutions. Anger will be an individual issue. You may need to write it down, pound it out on a tennis court, or simply decide that “the past is in the past,” and let it go. I find focusing on gratitude to be a good antidote to anger. I also like to remember my dad’s famous words: “A hundred years from now nobody will know the difference.” So often anger is just our hurt feelings and bruised ego building up a head of steam called “self-righteousness.” Self-righteous anger is not pretty and not productive.



good antidote for loneliness that always works for me is to think of someone more lonely than I am. That is not hard. Once a month my church group goes to a nursing home and hosts church for the residents. That is one lonely, impoverished group of people. I often call a friend when I feel lonely, too. Another of my favorite anti-lonely activities is cleaning. Feeling lonely to me is an out-of-control-of-my-own-life feeling. Cleaning and organizing puts me firmly back in control. Distraction works well with loneliness, too: read a book, watch a favorite show, or, when all else fails, head to the grocery store for a favorite treat. Having grandchildren handy, I can even get them a favorite treat, drop it off, put a smile on their faces, not have ingested any calories, and head home with a happy heart.



Remember to pay attention to the lens through which we see the world and the times of our days and our lives when that lens is going to be undependable and self-sabotaging. Life is challenging enough without our making it more so by mistaking and misinterpreting things. Happy, healthy, honest seeing!!

Blessings to each of you reading this from Susan and Tony!


Prayer Page:

The Pillar of Light Foundation Prayer Page as of September 1 is now ACTIVE! Please leave your prayers and concerns at link below:


Supporting Scripture:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV)

“Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind?” Job 38:36 (ESV)

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” James 1:19 (ESV)


More support is yours at the following websites:




September 1, 2015 at 2:01 PM Leave a comment

Purchase Susan’s Books by Clicking the Book Below

Book Cover: Many Faces of PTSD

Pillar of Light Foundation

Subscribe To Our RSS Feed

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 221 other followers

%d bloggers like this: