By Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD – BarbWire guest contributor
Christmas is the saddest time of the year in which to feel lonely. We can feel alone in a crowded room, when we feel no one really knows or understands us. We can feel alone because we literally have no one around us. There are so many reasons today why people are estranged from their families. Christmas loneliness may be one of the great unsung stories of our time.
How to overcome this loneliness?
The way “out” is “through.” We don’t overcome loneliness by denying it or avoiding it. We overcome it, by facing it for what it is: a fact. Not the only fact, not a permanent fact, not the most important fact. But in this moment, I acknowledge it as a fact, that I am lonely.
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This positions us to take positive steps to improve our situation. Perhaps paradoxically, the solution to loneliness is to think less about ourselves and more about other people. We can get stewed in our own juices if we focus on ourselves too much! This reorientation of the heart allows us to be more attractive to others.
Fortunately, the Christmas season offers many opportunities to step out of our own isolation and reach out to others in love.
For instance, we women can get very touchy when someone else enters our kitchen. We consider it an invasion! “Stop!” Or, “You’re not using the right pan!” Or “That’s not how we make gravy at our house!” All of these comments are just shorthand for: “Do it my way!” When we feel that kind of comment rising to our lips, let’s hit the “pause” button. Remind ourselves: the family is more important than the food. The relationships matter more than the recipe!
Trust me: giving voice to those controlling comments will not do anything to ease your loneliness!
Here at the Ruth Institute, we offer a Recipe for Peace. No matter what may be going on in your life, we believe you can contribute to creating an atmosphere of peace within your own circle of influence. In this way, we can participate in the peace of Christ the King. What are your tips for overcoming loneliness? For creating an atmosphere of love? Share your thoughts with us at #RecipeForPeace.
Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD is founder and President of the Ruth Institute. She was named one of the Catholic Stars of 2013 by Our Sunday Visitor, one of the largest and oldest English-language Catholic newspapers in the US.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.