In a world which is so busy why are we finding more and more people lonely these days? It seems bizarre. I see so much of it throughout my work and within daily conversations. Working with various groups of people that are often in the press, from footballers, celebrities, military and even Members of Parliament.
I myself went through a period of loneliness last year, where I was working long hours supporting others and coming home to an empty house. I hadn’t realised how I had begun to pull myself back from friendship circles and family as I was so focused on developing the business. This business activity was to the detriment of my own personal time.
Even though I’m continually developing my self-awareness, developing myself as a person, this had silently crept up without me really noticing. Once I had noticed though, I quickly began to work on it. How did I notice? My internal and external language!!! I had begun to use the word ‘lonely’ during my own conversations, but more than that internally I ‘felt’ it. I had begun to form a new habit of working during each spare hour.
So instead of complaining about it, I grabbed it and did something about it. ‘I’ needed to do something about it.
We often live in a culture of blame: my company hasn’t……. my manager didn’t……… my partner did……………… why haven’t they………………………?
We need to firstly point the finger back at ourselves and ask the question. What can I do about this situation? How can I support myself? Before we start pointing the finger out to others. I have now looked at my business model and reshaped it to enable me to spend more time with family and friends. I was able and in a position to do that.
The answer lies within ourselves -TJLife
The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life -Hal Elrod
If we look at our footballers as an example, once off the pitch from training or playing a match, unless you are lucky enough to have your family move with you, being in a different country, city or town from your family and friends can often be quite lonely. Remembering that our young football players are often in the public eye, and are often followed by the media, privacy can be difficult.
They need to stay 100% focused on their role, which is now a lifetime commitment. Albeit this commitment is just a small window of their lives; however, this is often from a very young age from around 6-8 years old to their mid-twenties or early thirties. During this time, do they have the support to learn about themselves, and still be focused on their commitments to the game?
Marvin Sordell who is an English former professional Footballer has recently released a short video about Nathaniel Philips, another professional footballer ‘making the switch’ which is a great insight into the transition of Nathaniel moving to Germany (link below).
How can our young footballers begin to start learning about themselves during this crucial period of their lives? And still maintain focus and commitment to the task at hand? The statistics below that Frazer Franks another former footballer player has published in his recent article (article link below):
• 33% of footballers are divorced within the first year of retirement
• 40% of players also declared bankruptcy within the first 5 years of retirement
demonstrates that our players need more support during this time, before they reach retirement, before they reach divorce and before they reach bankruptcy. In my opinion a special form of education is needed here, and this education needs to be early on in their careers to support them and their families. Frazer speaks In his article that he was one of the lucky ones who had the support of a good wife behind him.
It’s meant to be the best time of their lives but quite often they become scrutinised on a regular basis not only from managers but from supporters. At one moment they can be at the prime of their careers having media visibility, to then finding themselves tomorrow being yesterday’s news. So many different emotions being played out from moment to moment.
Who is available to support this? To teach them the true language of life? The language to build resilience and to maintain peak performance on and off the pitch? This is what I mean about a different education being needed.
Understanding yourself as a person is so highly important. We recognise the surface level of when we are lonely, not happy or when we are frustrated, but do we REALLY understand what to do about it? Deeply and truly understand? This is the crucial point and the difference from turning to the external environment to make us happy e.g. alcohol, drugs and gambling, as these are very short-lived external fixes.
It’s time to now really dig deep and begin to understand what really makes us tick. Really understand what ‘I’ need from day to day to support me whilst away from family, whilst traveling long hours, whilst living on my own, whilst juggling so many daily pressures.
In the film the Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Colin the main character succumbs to a sense of calm, even content with his loneliness, because he has refused to submit to authority when he decided to stop running just before he arrives at the finishing line. After various thoughts crossing his mind about his past he decided to take control and his control that day was to stop.
The key to this: Creating self-awareness towards the connections between your language, your thoughts and your emotions. Beginning to learn vital key pieces of information about yourself. It’s time to raise the standard with your own internal language and your emotional connection to it. This is not ‘fluffy’, this is living a life aligned to your personal values and living a life of placing intelligence into your emotions.
When we also think about our footballers that are transitioning to retirement, there is a fine line from being able to focus on life after football and still being 100% focused on the job at hand. We think of retirement as an older person, but in industry this can be from mid/late twenties to early thirties (if you’re lucky). This is a prime time in our lives. But often our young footballers don’t know any difference. They don’t know what ‘that life’ outside football looks like as they have been institutionalised from a young age. How can we now equip them with the tools for life after the game and support them with that lonely transition?
Frazer spoke about how the managers, governing bodies and clubs all need to come together and take a serious look at the situation. He states, ‘It’s so important that each person involved needs to take professional and personal responsibility”. This is only one culture. There are so many cultures, so many groups of individuals feeling a sense of loneliness in some form or other and at different times of their career.
I also spoke recently with a semi-professional ex Rugby player who had played from a young age and retired in his 30’s. His life had consisted of full-time work, three training sessions mid-week and a game on a Saturday. His role within his full-time work had also changed during this time, where he was now working as an advisor and would often be going to various places to support people, spending more time during the day on his own. He has a family and a loving wife, whom he adores and loves deeply. He spoke to me about missing the camaraderie with his fellow players on a Saturday. He said ‘people don’t understand that bond you have’.
The military, another group of people I’m passionate about and work with are now committed to looking after their armed forces throughout the transition of retirement. They still have some way to go but the recognition for this support is high on the agenda. Having recently been invited to attend the Armed Forces Covenant Conference here with the Government, I can personally vouch that they are working on this area to support our veterans. Having worked with some of our Special Forces and Army personnel I am beginning to have an understanding of this camaraderie. Having lived at the AirBase RAF Akrotiri for a couple of years, I saw our young squaddies with their fellow group members being able to pop to the mess for their evening meal and spending time together, always having someone around within their squadron to talk to. The transition from spending years within this institution to coming out of the forces to the ‘civvie’ world can be very difficult and tricky to manage. Many ex forces struggle with this transition. Having helped some of these through this period I have seen at first-hand the impact it has not only on them but also on their families.
We are now having to be more resilient within our jobs. Our roles are changing, and we are having to be more adaptable to friendships and distance between families, and possibly haven’t really learnt the techniques and tools for this way of living in the 21st Century. In a world where technology is at the tip of our fingers and we can speak to someone within seconds across the other side of the world, why is it that we can still feel lonely? We humans are naturally built for intimacy, touch and interaction. I will go into more detail in my next article on this subject, but for now: Remember that we are in control of how we feel. If we feel lonely we should ask ourselves “what do I need at this moment?” Not next week or next month but ‘now’, this will support you in becoming more self-aware and also to self -regulate quicker.
What do I need at this moment?
• Is it that cwtsh with a loved one? Or just a simple touch?
• Is it picking up the phone or meeting another fellow colleague to have that camaraderie?
• Is it a coffee with a friend?
• Is it a good belly giggle that I need?
• Is it going for a run with a trusted friend?
Do something about it and ensure it doesn’t become a habit loop within your neuropathways. If you would like to hear more, please contact me: info@TJLife.net
My next article: ‘The Fable of Kintsukuroi and Resilience’ Will be released in February where I will go into more depth about what defines us and how we can become even stronger with the power of ‘our’ language.
Frazer Franks Blog
Marvin Sordell short video on Nathaniel Philips recently ‘making the switch’