Episode 10

Why We’re All Lonely
(and what we can do about it)

Hilary shares insights on how we contribute to our own feelings of isolation by not allowing true, authentic connections in our lives.
19 min.

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Show Notes

In this thought-provoking episode of The Hilary Silver Podcast, Hilary takes on the epidemic of loneliness, which she calls “the other L word.” Exploring the nuances between situational and existential loneliness, Hilary shares insights on how we contribute to our own feelings of isolation by not allowing true, authentic connections in our lives. She challenges listeners to reconsider how intimacy can be fostered not just with those close to us, but in everyday interactions with everyone.

In this episode, you’ll learn...

Episode Highlights:
  • Understanding Situational vs. Existential Loneliness: Hilary defines two types of loneliness and discusses their impacts.
  • The Role of Intimacy in Combating Loneliness: Insights into how genuine intimacy can combat feelings of loneliness.
  • Practical Steps to Overcome Loneliness: Hilary provides actionable advice on creating meaningful connections and overcoming barriers to intimacy.
Episode Breakdown:
[00:00:36-00:01:02] Introduction to the topic of loneliness, termed as “the other L word.”
[00:01:42-00:02:19] Discussion on situational loneliness: circumstances where one may feel lonely due to changes in their social environment.
[00:03:04-00:04:02] Exploration of existential loneliness: feeling alone despite being in social settings or relationships.
[00:06:09-00:07:01] Real-life examples of how to solve existential loneliness through deeper connections.
[00:07:01-00:09:03] The challenges of making new friends as an adult and the deeper problem of existential loneliness.
[00:17:58-00:18:10] Closing thoughts: encouragement to face the internal fears that lead to loneliness.
Listener Takeaways:
  • Recognize the Type of Loneliness: Identifying whether your loneliness is situational or existential can guide you in addressing it effectively.
  • Foster Intimacy Anywhere: Intimacy isn’t just for close relationships; it can be cultivated in any interaction by being present and authentic.
  • Be Proactive in Connection: Taking active steps to engage in activities and communities that resonate with your interests can help alleviate situational loneliness.
  • Face Inner Barriers: Reflect on what holds you back from being open and honest in your interactions and challenge yourself to be more vulnerable.
  • Self-Reflection is Key: Often, the solution to loneliness starts with understanding and changing our own behaviors and attitudes towards relationships.

This episode is a powerful reminder that while loneliness is a common human experience, the power to change our circumstances always lies within our own actions and choices.

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The reason that we struggle

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with existential loneliness is, is actually

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because in our lives

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and in our relationships, we’re not allowing that deep,

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true, authentic connection to be happening.

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Because I believe that you can have intimacy

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with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

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If you so wish to have it.

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You can have an intimate moment

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with the grocery store clerk.

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You can. Hi, it’s Hillary.

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Welcome to the Hillary Silver Podcast.

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Hey everyone. Welcome to the conversation.

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Today, we are talking about loneliness.

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I call it the other l word, meaning not love, but lonely.

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And up until recently, I think it was something

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that most people really didn’t wanna admit to,

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because if you’re feeling lonely,

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there must be something wrong with you.

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Um, and you know, like you don’t,

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you don’t have any friends, so what’s

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wrong with you kind of a thing.

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And I just think it’s a really great thing

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that there’s been a lot more conversation

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about loneliness lately.

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It’s kind of an epidemic.

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Uh, 60% of adults say that they feel lonely.

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And then I think thanks to COVID maybe, um,

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is when we started talking about loneliness a lot more than

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ever before, because, um,

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even though we’re only talking about it now,

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it’s been something that of course,

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we all have been feeling from time to time in our lives.

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And some people more than others, more often,

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and more frequently than others as well.

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So what, um,

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I’m gonna be getting into today are two different kinds

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of loneliness that I, um, have come to identify or recognize

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and, um, and,

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and it’s, it will enhance any other conversation

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that might be happening about loneliness.

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Um, so the first kind of loneliness that I recognize,

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and I call it situational loneliness, when I’m working

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with clients and I’m talking to people

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and, um, I’m doing the, the work that I do.

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Um, situational loneliness, as everybody can relate,

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is a time in your life when you just don’t have

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anyone to hang out with.

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Maybe you are, you just moved, maybe a lot

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of your friends have moved.

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Maybe you’re in a new season in your life,

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things have shifted or changed in your reality.

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And because of that, you’re just finding yourself

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with not a lot of people to hang out with

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and nobody to maybe do stuff with.

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Or your circle has gotten really small.

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Um, and that can really be lonely.

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It sucks when you feel a little socially isolated.

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Um, maybe there’s more connection happening in your online

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world and your virtual world than in your actual

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real life world.

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I, that’s happened to me as I’ve taken my business online.

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More and more people that I know are in the online space

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and they’re all around the world,

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but yet in my local community, in my real life,

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that world has gotten much smaller.

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Maybe you can relate.

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Um, and so, yeah, that it really does suck when you feel

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like there’s no one to hang out with.

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You wanna go have a glass of wine

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or go out to dinner and you’re like, huh.

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Um, who am I gonna call? It sucks.

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Um, now the other kind of loneliness that I recognize is

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what I call existential loneliness,

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meaning a lonely existence.

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And this is the kind of loneliness that is actually way more

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profound, um,

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and painful than situational loneliness.

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If you can imagine, this is the kind of loneliness

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that you might experience when you have a lot of friends.

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But feel lonely when you’re in a large, crowded room

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of people at a party, networking or,

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or at an event of some kind.

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And you just feel very lonely.

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And, and what causes this is a sense of not feeling

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seen, not feeling witnessed, being lonely in a marriage,

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being lonely in a romantic relationship is like, you know,

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getting into bed with a partner.

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And in that kind of a relationship is the loneliest bed,

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um, in the world.

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Um, because it’s lacking connection.

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It’s lacking a sense of transparency, of, of

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closeness, of intimacy.

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And, um, and,

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and this is when people will say to me, Hillary,

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I feel like no one knows the real me.

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I feel like everybody just knows what they think about me

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or what they think of, of who I am.

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Um, and, and so while this is like extremely profound

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and isolating feeling, um,

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if you can just imagine from a soul level,

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it’s like a soul lonely.

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When, when you don’t feel like you’re the person lying next

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to you in bed actually really knows the real you,

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or you have friends,

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but they don’t really know the real you, you spend a lot

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of time together, you hang out together,

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and there’s not a lot of honest, deep connection happening.

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Um, or there is, but it’s one way

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and it’s, you know, maybe everybody else is sharing a lot

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and relying on you for help, and you’re doing all the giving

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and the helping, but it’s not flipped the other way ever.

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Um, and so it’s just, it, can you imagine like how desolate

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that would feel to your soul

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to not feel like anybody actually really knows the real you?

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The kind of intimacy that that we gain when we have

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that connection is life sustaining.

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Um, one of the examples that I like to give when I’m talking

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to women who are interested in working with us in our Ready

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for Love program is when, when I’m at a party

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with my husband and I’m talking to somebody

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and he’s in the other room,

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but we can see each other, we can just look at each other

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and know how it’s going for each other.

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I might be talking to a woman in one room

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and he’s in another room talking to somebody, and,

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and we can kind of just look at each other

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and we kind of know, is it time to go?

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How’s it going? Are you enjoying yourself?

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There’s an intimacy there that we don’t even have to speak.

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We can just look at each other and know.

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Or when, um, something’s going on in our house

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and I’m having a conversation with one of our kids

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and he’s, you know, looking at me

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and he knows exactly how I’m feeling about

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that conversation, and he actually knows, you know,

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he should step in maybe and, and intervene

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or offer something, or if he should stay quiet

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because I’m, I’ve got it.

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So there’s just this way.

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When you are, when you have that connection with somebody

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and they really know you, and they see you

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and they witness you, um,

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then they can anticipate your needs,

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your responses to things.

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Um, there’s just this, this great collaboration

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and you don’t feel alone in this world when you have that.

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So here’s the irony.

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While it seems like making a new friend would be an easier

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thing to do, I actually personally think it’s easier

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to solve the existential loneliness,

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even though it’s way more profound sense of loneliness

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than not having someone to go out to dinner

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with or hang out with.

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It’s actually easier to solve existential loneliness more,

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um, than it is to solve situational loneliness.

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Think about it. It’s not easy as an adult

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to go out and make a new friend.

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You have to make the effort.

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You have to go get involved in an activity,

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put yourself out into the community in some way,

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and it has to be something that you enjoy doing

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or you won’t wanna do it.

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And also, so

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because it, that would be something

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that represents who you are.

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You wouldn’t go like hang out at a tennis court if you don’t

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play tennis, or you wouldn’t, you know, wanna go to a,

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a book signing of, of some kind of,

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you’re not an avid reader of, you know.

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So you wanna put yourself in a situation

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where it’s something that you actually really enjoy doing,

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because that’s a true thing for you.

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And that means that might be where you meet somebody

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who has a shared interest

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or has something in common with you in that way.

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So that’s the first thing.

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But then the next hurdle is this other person

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that you may meet has to also be interested

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in making a new friend.

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So you have to meet at this, at this place.

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You have to make the initial connection.

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You have to have an initial conversation that feels good

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for both of you, and you both have to be people

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who are interested in expanding your friendship circle

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and making a new connection.

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And not everybody is, some people

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are not interested in that.

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And even though they, the, the, the two

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of you might have been a match made in heaven, even just

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as friends, not, I’m not even talking about romantically,

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but you both have to want that in your lives.

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And then you both have to make it an a priority.

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You have to make effort. And we’ve all got busy lives.

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We’ve got, you know, kids and clothes and bills and chaos

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and work and all kinds of things going on in our lives

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that can make it challenging to

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put effort into making a new friend,

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really, honestly, truly.

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So let’s talk about existential loneliness

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and how much easier it actually is to solve

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that problem, right?

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We wanna solve our solvable problems.

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And so the reason that we struggle

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with existential loneliness is, is actually

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because in our lives

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and in our relationships, we’re not allowing that deep,

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true, authentic connection to be happening.

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We’re not allowing it

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because I believe that you can have intimacy with anyone,

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anywhere, anytime, if you so wish to have it.

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You can have an intimate moment

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with the grocery store clerk.

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You can, it can be an honest exchange

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of what’s of your true humanity

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with each other in that moment.

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You can have an exchange with somebody

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that you meet on the sidewalk

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while you’re walking your dogs,

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and the dogs stop to sniff each other and you stop to chat

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and, and, and they ask you a question

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and you’re actually honest about the answer,

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and they’re open to receiving that kind of communication

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and connection with a stranger.

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And now you’re feeling seen

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and heard, it’s instantly solved just like that.

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So why don’t we do this?

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We don’t share our true authentic

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selves for so many reasons.

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Sometimes it’s because we think people don’t really care.

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When someone asks how you are

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and you just say, fine, I’m good.

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How are you? It’s because you

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think they’re not really interested.

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They’re just asking to be nice and they don’t really care.

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Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not, but you’ll never know.

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And your mind reading and putting assumptions

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and projecting onto them.

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When I ask somebody, how are you? I really want the truth.

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I really do. Don’t lie to me. Please.

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If I didn’t wanna know, I wouldn’t ask. So just a thought.

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But, but another reason why we may not share ourselves

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is because we’re afraid.

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We’re afraid of putting ourselves out there in

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this vulnerable way of, you know,

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like ultimately we all just wanna be seen.

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But are you willing to be seen?

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How guarded are you in your life?

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How transparent are you in your life?

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Do you share yourself with people

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or do you filter, edit, alter, hold back,

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just share the good parts.

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Do you make light of things? Do you or are you honest?

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Because if you really wanna be seen, you have

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to allow yourself to be seen

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and to be willing to ask yourself,

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why am I not willing to be seen?

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Usually it’s because of fear. We’re afraid of rejection.

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We’re afraid of being judged or ridiculed.

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We’re afraid of the other person’s reaction

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and what they’re gonna say or do When we’re honest,

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when we share who we really are, when we tell people,

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this is me, we show people this is me.

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We’re afraid. What, what’s gonna happen?

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And, and herein lies that the root issue, which is believing

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that what you have to share isn’t receivable,

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isn’t good enough, isn’t lovable something like that?

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I may not get it exactly right for each of you,

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but for the sake of this conversation, I’m just poking.

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You have to sit with that and ask yourself these questions.

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What am I afraid of By not speaking my truth?

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What am I afraid of? By not letting people see me.

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Am I scared that I won’t be liked?

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Am I afraid that I won’t be accepted?

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That people will judge me, that they’ll think

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that I’m stupid, that what I have to say isn’t right,

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or good enough or valid, or they’ll challenge me

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or they’ll find out I’m not very smart,

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or that I’m not funny, I’m boring.

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What is it that you’re afraid of?

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These are deep conversations that you’re having

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deep in your subconscious, deep down in yourself.

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And when you actually know

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and you deal with all this stuff on the inside of yourself

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and you don’t believe those things anymore,

285
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and you don’t tell yourself those things

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or talk to yourself that way anymore, you know,

287
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you have nothing to lose.

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You can put yourself out there in the world in this way,

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honestly, transparently, and be seen by anyone at any time.

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And you have to be, you have to let go of the outcome

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of wanting to be accepted and liked and approved of,

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and not care what people are

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thinking, number one.

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And number two, if you are gonna make an assumption about

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what they’re thinking, why

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00:14:01.125 –> 00:14:02.165
would you think that it’s not good?

297
00:14:03.705 –> 00:14:06.925
Why would you assume that it’s not a good response?

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Maybe it won’t be, but not all the time.

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And, and if it’s not, then that’s not your problem.

300
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It’s just not so wanting to be liked and accepted

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and, um, to have approval

302
00:14:21.665 –> 00:14:26.505
or validation is often, um, a sign

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00:14:26.505 –> 00:14:28.385
of not having strong sense of self,

304
00:14:28.605 –> 00:14:30.465
not having self-worth not knowing,

305
00:14:31.165 –> 00:14:32.865
not being centered in yourself

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and knowing that, hey, I’m good.

307
00:14:35.285 –> 00:14:36.625
I’m not perfect, but I’m good

308
00:14:36.965 –> 00:14:38.025
and I don’t need to be perfect.

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00:14:38.125 –> 00:14:40.985
And I am and I am, you know, I’ve got myself here

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00:14:42.135 –> 00:14:44.435
and you can solve this problem.

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And I actually, if you are somebody

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00:14:47.825 –> 00:14:50.465
who lives this way already, when you live this way,

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you invite others to live this way.

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When I, I know that when I am

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00:14:56.885 –> 00:14:59.155
brave enough or courageous enough,

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or don’t give a s**t enough to just let it all out there

317
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and be myself, I actually

318
00:15:06.775 –> 00:15:08.755
invite other people to live that way too.

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It gives permission to the people

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00:15:12.285 –> 00:15:15.105
who feel like they need permission to be this way too.

321
00:15:16.145 –> 00:15:17.485
And the more you live this way,

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the more you can live this way.

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Meaning the more you, you test it out and try it

324
00:15:24.255 –> 00:15:26.175
and stick your neck outta your turtle shell a little bit

325
00:15:26.235 –> 00:15:27.895
and see what it’s like out there yonder,

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00:15:27.925 –> 00:15:29.255
what it’s like to live this way.

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And you get, you’re met with positivity, you’re met with

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00:15:34.625 –> 00:15:36.075
none of the things that you’re fearing

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and all of the things that you hope for.

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You see that you can keep doing this.

331
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So the recap, circumstantial loneliness

332
00:15:48.575 –> 00:15:51.215
or situational loneliness is when you

333
00:15:51.995 –> 00:15:52.935
really don’t have a lot

334
00:15:52.935 –> 00:15:54.055
of people to hang out with in your life.

335
00:15:54.085 –> 00:15:55.215
It’s a season of your life.

336
00:15:55.835 –> 00:15:57.575
It just, you find yourself in this place.

337
00:15:57.585 –> 00:15:59.015
Maybe you’re the first to have kids

338
00:15:59.035 –> 00:16:00.455
and no one gets it in your group.

339
00:16:00.555 –> 00:16:03.615
And, and it’s just the two of you having having kids

340
00:16:03.955 –> 00:16:07.895
or you know, a lot of people moved away or you’ve moved

341
00:16:08.075 –> 00:16:09.455
or whatever the issue is.

342
00:16:09.955 –> 00:16:12.095
And you are in a situation where you might need

343
00:16:12.095 –> 00:16:14.735
to make some new friends locally in your

344
00:16:14.765 –> 00:16:16.095
real day-to-day life.

345
00:16:17.555 –> 00:16:20.905
That takes effort. And it can be done, but it’s not easy.

346
00:16:21.535 –> 00:16:24.785
There’s a lot of, um, I’ll just Google it, articles about

347
00:16:25.245 –> 00:16:27.345
how hard it is to make friends as an adult.

348
00:16:28.405 –> 00:16:30.575
Mark Manson has an episode about that recently.

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00:16:31.375 –> 00:16:35.455
I recommend you listen, it’s a good one. Um, sit.

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00:16:35.555 –> 00:16:38.135
So that’s again, circumstantial loneliness.

351
00:16:38.565 –> 00:16:41.575
Existential loneliness is way more profound.

352
00:16:41.645 –> 00:16:43.255
It’s having a lonely existence.

353
00:16:43.635 –> 00:16:46.015
And maybe you are isolated, maybe you are alienated,

354
00:16:46.015 –> 00:16:47.935
maybe you live in the boonies all by yourself.

355
00:16:47.995 –> 00:16:49.895
That’s same but different

356
00:16:49.895 –> 00:16:53.535
because you can also experience this profound sense

357
00:16:53.535 –> 00:16:57.175
of loneliness in your life, being surrounded by a bunch

358
00:16:57.175 –> 00:16:59.415
of people who actually think they know you,

359
00:16:59.515 –> 00:17:01.735
but you know, they don’t really know you.

360
00:17:02.155 –> 00:17:05.145
And that is your fault, my friend. It just is.

361
00:17:05.845 –> 00:17:08.025
And as with everything, when you’re the problem,

362
00:17:08.165 –> 00:17:09.185
you’re the solution.

363
00:17:09.845 –> 00:17:10.985
It doesn’t have to be this way.

364
00:17:11.005 –> 00:17:12.945
If this is something that you are experiencing

365
00:17:12.965 –> 00:17:14.545
and it’s painful and hard for you

366
00:17:14.605 –> 00:17:17.865
and you don’t like it, you hold the key to unlock everything

367
00:17:17.885 –> 00:17:19.385
for you right here, right now.

368
00:17:20.055 –> 00:17:21.665
It’s a bitter pill to swallow that you’re the problem,

369
00:17:21.685 –> 00:17:22.945
but it’s also the magic pill.

370
00:17:24.035 –> 00:17:26.455
You can do this. You have to just simply

371
00:17:27.045 –> 00:17:28.695
have an honest sit down with yourself.

372
00:17:30.055 –> 00:17:33.395
Why are you holding back? Why are you not letting people in?

373
00:17:33.945 –> 00:17:35.195
What are you so afraid of?

374
00:17:35.345 –> 00:17:39.665
What is it that you think is gonna happen? Okay?

375
00:17:41.385 –> 00:17:42.875
It’s probably not as bad as you think it is.

376
00:17:43.615 –> 00:17:46.155
And if you’re so hung up on needing the approval

377
00:17:46.155 –> 00:17:49.805
and the attention and the validation of others, then

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00:17:49.805 –> 00:17:52.205
that is your relationship with you that needs repair.

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Okay? So thanks for listening to this brief episode.

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00:17:58.855 –> 00:18:00.495
I hope it was in enlightening for you.

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00:18:00.875 –> 00:18:02.335
And I will see you soon.

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00:18:02.335 –> 00:18:06.175
Don’t forget to like and subscribe and share and rate

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00:18:06.175 –> 00:18:08.375
and review if you haven’t already,

384
00:18:08.525 –> 00:18:10.415
that we really appreciate when you do that for us.

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00:18:10.435 –> 00:18:12.455
It helps us get seen and heard.

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00:18:12.955 –> 00:18:14.815
Um, so I’ll see you next time.

387
00:18:15.895 –> 00:18:18.155
Thanks so much for joining the conversation today.

388
00:18:18.435 –> 00:18:19.875
I hope you learned something new

389
00:18:20.415 –> 00:18:22.275
or heard something that inspired you

390
00:18:22.275 –> 00:18:23.875
to take action in a new way.

391
00:18:24.375 –> 00:18:26.275
As your greatest champion

392
00:18:26.535 –> 00:18:29.875
and someone who truly cares about your love, happiness,

393
00:18:29.875 –> 00:18:33.235
wealth, and success, I always want to encourage you

394
00:18:33.295 –> 00:18:37.275
to ask yourself this question, how have I contributed?

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00:18:37.935 –> 00:18:40.075
You are the only person who can ask this

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00:18:40.135 –> 00:18:42.075
and the only one who can answer it.

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This doesn’t just change your life, this changes everything.

What to listen to next...

Episode 12
In this week’s episode, Hilary dives into the often misunderstood concept of closure in relationships.
17 min.
Episode 11
Today, Hilary takes on questions submitted by listeners, tackling a wide range of personal and emotional queries.
38 min.

Resources

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