E Squared by Pam Grout — Experiment #8
While in my voice lesson this week, my vocal coach made an interesting observation about me. He noticed that I had a tendency to deflect my gaze when speaking to other people. I’ve been hyper aware of this tendency all week, and have noticed the strange behaviour on several occasions.
It seems that my eyes have not exactly been “laser like.”
“I’m Feeling Lonely” – a look into the most peculiar of experiences
Earlier this week, I shared a poem that I’d written about illusions. The poem is a response to another poem that I’d written when I was thirteen years old. An excerpt from my response goes as follows:
Stuck in my box.
Determined to speak a different language,
I demanded that someone see me, hear me,
I also recently listened to a podcast on The School of Greatness (awesome Podcast) with Dr. Guy Winch. In this episode he talks about several different forms of emotional injury, but for the purpose of this post I’d like to draw attention to the section where he speaks about loneliness. Two things from this episode stand out for me:
- 1. Loneliness affects our immune systems. It increases our stress levels while depressing our immune functioning. This means that people with chronic loneliness are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, depression and a host of other health concerns.
A recent study found that smoking and loneliness are similar in terms of the weight of the health concerns they cause.
- 2. When people feel lonely, they tend to develop habits where they push away the very people who could alleviate their loneliness. Lonely people tend to evaluate their existing friendships as less strong and less meaningful than they actually are.
What does all of this have to do with the eighth experiment in E Squared by Pam Grout?
This chapter is all about connections and how every time we meet someone we send energy their way. Even if we don’t actually say how we feel about them (or ourselves), they know. As Dr. Winch specified, if you’re feeling lonely you’ll be less likely to reach out. I know this because I’ve done it. I do it. When you spend your time looking for evidence to support your claim of loneliness, it will show up… whether it’s real or not. When I look at old pictures, I see something different from what my memories have told me is true. Of course pictures can be deceiving… but so are our thoughts.
Here’s something else I’ve learned. Loneliness is self-serving. It’s self-centered and entirely inward focused. Loneliness occurs when you become hyper focused on yourself and your experience, and the best way to remedy that is to focus on others and their experience. To be “there” (in the present) with the person you’re interacting with, instead of thinking about the next thing you have to do. It turns out that human interaction is not only important for happiness, health and well being… it’s fundamental.
In this experiment, Pam asks you to think about another person. Think about something good that you’d like to happen to them. Think about them consistently for 48 hours, and then step back. Has your relationship changed? She goes into more detail in the book.
I tried this experiment with three different people, and each of those people showed up in my life within days (or hours) of starting the experiment. In the span of one week my relationships had improved in all areas of my life. The change was so significant that I had to take a large step back and reflect. Were things this good to begin with, only I was too blinded by old paradigms to see it?
We’re all Lonely Sometimes
I think that we all have a tendency to feel lonely sometimes. When this happens, I know the first thing I want to do is withdraw. Turns out we should do exactly the opposite. We should reach out. We should talk about our feelings with someone we trust and when we’ve regained perspective, return the favour to someone else. This experiment is really about giving back, and about recognizing our place in this world.
The best part of life is laughter. And we can only do that with each other.