• Phil McAuliffe

2021 - Your year of authentic connection

Let’s make 2021 your year of authentic connection



Hello! Happy New Year!


Very few gay men seek out and then read articles about loneliness unless they’ve come to the realisation that they’re lonely. The stigma and shame we feel is real, and it takes a lot of courage to even engage with the subject.


I’m proud of you for opening this article. I recognise and admire your courage. Now that you’re here, let’s start getting you connected to yourself, those most important to you and to your community.


~ Phil


* * * * *


If 2020 was the year when you realised and accepted the gift of your loneliness (read ‘The gift of loneliness’ here), you want to make sure that things change in 2021. After all, you deserve nothing less than being seen, heard and feeling that you belong for being the awesome gay man that you are.


But how to do this?


Connection is the antidote to loneliness. So let’s make 2021 the year when you feel authentically connected across the three pillars of connection: to your self, to those most important to you and to your communities.


Loneliness is meant to be felt in the short term. You’re meant to use those awful feelings and thoughts of loneliness as they are the sign that your mind and body is giving you that you need connection. You’re not meant to linger in those feelings. You’re meant to feel them and then take concrete steps to authentic connection.


But how do you do that? You join with me in the challenge of making 2021 your year of authentic connection.

You’re human: You need help


It’s easy to make new year’s resolutions at the beginning of January. Indeed, you’ve probably made some already: work less; workout more; build a circle of friends; find a boyfriend/partner/husband; drink less; smoke less; get more sleep; eat better; have more sex; have more meaningful sex; watch less porn; watch more porn. The list is resolution possibilities are endless and social media is awash with people all offering their services to help you make it happen.


TRUTH: without a plan, and without real support and accountability structures in place, those resolutions are likely to rely on your willpower. And willpower alone is finite and easily exhausted.

In my experience, the hardest part was becoming aware that the emptiness and general unease that I felt growing within me was my loneliness. Once I became aware of that, it took courage to accept and admit that I was lonely. You’re likely at this stage, simply because you’re reading these words.


I then tried to work it out on my own. I know now that I was scared and ashamed to ask for help. My willpower was strong, but my loneliness was consistently stronger. After a while, I knew that I needed to be courageous again to ask for help from someone else. I accepted an invitation from Mike Campbell to join his group-based coaching program for men. Through that program, I learned the importance of becoming aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I learned that there was a unique beauty within me and that my imperfections and that which I was scared to show the world – including my sexuality – were my strengths.


Critically, I learned that to make changes, I needed to declare my intentions, ask for support and accountability from others who I knew would not tolerate my bullshit with kindness and empathy. I then celebrated and built upon my successes and learned from those times when I didn’t meet my goals.


It’s hard and messy work, but it’s the work of life. And I promise you that it’s so much better when this work is done with others who understand.


What does the challenge involve?


This challenge is all about you setting clear intentions around the authentic connection you feel you need, taking steps to do them and then reviewing your progress regularly. These regular reviews allow for course correction throughout the year and keeps the quality of your connection front of mind throughout your days.


It’s important to note that these are YOUR intentions for authentic connection across the three pillars of connection. I could give you a template with options to pick from, but those wouldn’t be authentically yours.


I’ll be doing this with you and I’ll lead the way. 2021 is going to be a big year for me. I’m moving back to Australia with Jeff in January. I’m starting back at full-time employment in early February. I need to make friends and help Jeff get acquainted with his new home and find and settle into a new job, too. My kids will be returning to Australia in April and I’ll need to help them get settled back into life in Australia too. All of this, plus I will be running and growing two loneliness-related websites across multiple social media platforms and updating and reviewing my book, I can already see that I will say that I’m too busy to connect with others in my life unless I mindfully prioritise connection across my three pillars of connection.


This blog, my podcast, my content on social media and discussion in the exclusive Facebook group for premium subscribers to refer to the challenge throughout 2021.


What you need to do now

Are you keen to join me? Excellent! There are a few steps that you need to do now:

1. Write down how you want to feel on 31 December 2021


Sit down with a pen and paper and write down how you want to feel connected to your self, to those most important to you and to your communities on 31 December 2021. Really visualise it. Feel it. Get specific. It may sound ridiculously wanky, but it really helps to get as specific as knowing what you’re going to be wearing, eating and even smelling on that day. It needs to make you feel happy and content within yourself. You need to feel that you’re loved, you’re seen and that you belong within yourself, with those most special to you and in your communities.


Do you want to feel comfortable in your own skin by then? Do you want to feel confident enough to walk into a room full of strangers? Do you want to have three close friends with whom you feel seen, heard and that you belong? Do you want to feel a part of your local community? Be clear.


I want to be clear here: it’s tempting to simply think about change and leave it at that. It’s REALLY IMPORTANT that you write down exactly how you want to feel connected according to each of the three pillars of connection. Write. It. Down.


2. You’ll need support and accountability, so join us as a premium member.


Making changes within yourself by yourself is possible. However, when it comes to loneliness, this completely misses the point. My experience shows that when we’re focused on connection and putting our authentic selves into the world, we find that the changes we want to make are so much easier when we have a team around us. For a small monthly fee, you can join the growing community of other gay men who are all prioritising their connection according to the three pillars of connection. I’ll be helping the group to set weekly connection intentions, sharing my own and then helping to keep them accountable in a supportive way. Come and join us!


3. Invite a friend to join the challenge. If you’ve been talking about loneliness and connection with those in your life (and who didn’t feel lonely at least some time through 2020?), why not talk to them about the challenge and invite them to join? The beauty of talking about loneliness aloud is that it creates the kind of connection we need as others react to our strength and bravery shown through our willingness to be vulnerable.


Finally


With 2020 highlighting your loneliness and you accepting the gift of your loneliness, let’s make 2021 the year when you start putting your real, authentic and beautifully human self into the world and getting the connection you absolutely need. I’ll be checking in with you again in March, June, September and December in this blog and podcast to see how you’re going.


And know that you’re not alone as a gay man who’s experiencing loneliness. I’m here. I’m here through my blog, my podcast and my speaking services. If you feel that you need the services of a coach, my team of Michael DiIorio, Mike Campbell, Sophia Kokores and Calan Breckon are all here to help and support you through their services and their awesomeness. Check out their services here.


Let’s do it!


Join me in episode 20 of my podcast for gay men ‘Connection over Coffee with The Loneliness Guy’ as we discuss your year of authentic connection.



Where to now?


Connection is the antidote to loneliness. Join the community on my website by becoming a premium member (monthly charge) or a basic member and let’s stay connected as we work to de-stigmatise loneliness and promote authentic connection for gay men.


Premium members have exclusive access to a group on Facebook in which we have regular video chats and help and support each other as we put our real, authentic selves into the world to get the connection we need. We’d love for you to join us!


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Thank you for reading this post. I hope that you’ve found it helpful.

I’m now asking for YOUR help.


Sharing my work really helps it reach more gay men and helps us all to de-stigmatise loneliness and promote authentic connection for gay men globally.


You may not feel lonely and have just the right amount of authentic connection in your life, but sharing this article could really help a friend or relative who may be quietly struggling with the thoughts and feelings of loneliness and disconnection.


Please share this post by email, a message in a chat app or by sharing my post on social media (hit a social media icon below to share).


~ Thank you ~


Important notice: All views expressed above are my own and are intended to support, challenge and inspire gay men to consider the issue of loneliness and increase awareness of the need for authentic connection with themselves, with others and their communities as an antidote to chronic loneliness. They are not intended to, nor should they, replace the advice of a licensed helping professional. Please consult the Resources page if you feel that you need the services of a licensed helping professional where you are in the world.

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