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  • Phil McAuliffe

Getting you through the festive season

This time of year can be tough.

Your loneliness loves to spoil your joy.

Let's get you through this season.




Hello!


You don’t seek out and then read articles about loneliness as a gay or queer man unless you’ve come to the realisation that you’re lonely. The stigma and shame you 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.


This article was written and published on Ngunnawal country. I wish to acknowledge and respect the Ngunnawal people’s continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of Canberra and the surrounding region. I would also like to acknowledge and welcome other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – and other First Nations people - who may read this post.


~ Phil



* * * * *


It’s the festive season and it’s supposed to be the time for peace, joy and goodwill for all men, right?

Does it feel like the thoughts and feelings of your loneliness are here to ruin festivities? Does there feel like there aren’t any festivities to get involved in?


Are you struggling?


I’m glad you’re here. I’ve got you covered.


I’m here to serve you, support you, challenge you and inspire you as you accept your loneliness, work through it and then get the connection that you’ve been needing. It’s in this spirit that I’m providing these three tips.


Please, read on.


1. Get out and do connection


Social media and the internet are full of helpful tips of how to get through the festive season. Many of the ideas are excellent and will get you through what can be a tough period.


Much of the advice centres around getting out of your house and getting involved with friends, family and the community. This is outstanding advice. You will feel better having spent some time around other people.


Much of the advice also says to limit social media and hook-up apps and use your phone as the awesome communications device that it is. Again, outstanding advice. Speak to people. Use the phone or the video function and speak to people.


My advice is this: get out of your own head as well as your house. I know that this is hard. It’s one thing to get out of your house and get outside, but wherever you go, your thoughts are there too.


You are not your thoughts. You are not your feelings. It’s helpful to write down the thoughts that you’re having and the feelings you’re feeling in a journal. There’s no need to analyse them, judge them or otherwise use them, it’s simply an exercise in getting them out so you no longer have to carry them with you.



And when you do something that gets you out of the house and out of your head – if even for a few moments – celebrate your awesomeness. It’s not always easy to get out of yourself or out of your house.

You can do it.


2. Pay attention to the ‘shoulds’ and ‘supposed tos’


‘Tis the season where you’re supposed to be jolly, right? It’s the season when you should don your gay apparel and should be experiencing the most wonderful time of the year, isn’t it?


It’s supposed to be the time for parties, riotous end-of-year work functions and matching ugly Christmas jumpers/sweaters.


It’s the time of year when you should be matching Mariah’s octave range whenever you hear it and loving Love, Actually and Home Alone while snuggled up on the couch.


Ah, the ‘shoulds’ and the ‘supposed tos’. They’re nasty little fuckers that you mindlessly say and think and they do nothing but chip away at you with their heavy expectations.


Those expectations that you’re carrying around with you can weigh you down and add judgment to an already tough time of the year.


My tip: Whenever you hear the word ‘should’ being said by someone else, or within yourself, develop the reflex to say ‘Who says?’

If the answer to that question isn’t a name AND is the truth for you, you can set down that expectation because it’s not serving you now.

Image: canva.com
The ‘shoulds’ and ‘supposed tos’ will do nothing but fuck you over; and not in the way that you may otherwise enjoy.

















3. Is this the time to do something about your loneliness?


I’ve been working on loneliness and social connection through The Loneliness Guy and The Lonely Diplomat since 2018. In each of those years, I’ve provided advice to my audience about how to best get through the festive season when you’re experiencing loneliness.


Here’s a blog I wrote and a podcast episode I recorded in 2020 that could really support you today.


During these years, I’ve provided advice and support to help you and others through the pandemic and the awful loneliness it brought you. I provide advice and support for those experiencing loneliness on Valentine's Day and those who aren’t having the hot girl summer they’re seeing on social media.


Let’s be honest: there’s always an event – a holiday – that brings forth the loneliness within you.

I’ve always got advice and support for you to cope through the tough time. But the fact remains that you keep on coming back to the same point and needing quick advice to cope.


My question to you is a challenge and a call to action:


  • Is this the event that you decide that enough is enough and it’s time to learn other ways of living with your loneliness rather than short-term advice to get you through?


  • Is this the Christmas that you decide to stop coping with your loneliness whenever it appears and you decide to sit with it and find out what it’s trying to tell you?


  • Is this the loneliness event where you decide to stop coping and start growing?


There are likely many reasons why you experience loneliness as a gay man. Many of them are well outside of your control, but some are well within your control. Is loneliness a choice that you’re consistently making to avoid doing something about it? Are you choosing to stay in the comfortable misery of your loneliness out of fear of what could be?


I know that this is challenging, but I would not be supporting you if I wasn’t calling you out and calling you forward.


Please, sit with this a moment.


Please know that I’m always here to help you cope. I’m also here when you’re ready to grow.


2023 seems like a great year to grow and evolve, doesn’t it? I’m right here for you when you’re ready to grow and evolve. I’m right here and I’d love to support you.


* * * * *


I’ll also having a coffee and a chat with you on this topic for the next episode of my podcast.

Please, join me from Thursday 22 December 2022 for Getting through the festive season.


Loneliness is awful and it’s tempting to try to solve it or fix it yourself. Trying to do this defeats the purpose of loneliness: you’re meant to reach out for support. Please, reach out to your partner, a friend or someone in your orbit who you know is trying to put themselves into the world just like you are. That could be me through my mentoring services. That could be a therapist or a counsellor – including a crisis counsellor. That could be a coach. It could be a combination of all.


Be sure to check out my services page when you’re ready for my support and guidance.


Some gratitude


This is the final blog for 2022, so a few thank yous are called for after what’s been an enormous year.


I want to say a huge thank you to my beautiful partner, Jeff. Jeff is the biggest supporter of The Loneliness Guy and my work on loneliness and social connection in general. He’s been such a supporter of me – well, us – taking the leap of me quitting my job in the Australian Public Service (and its steady income) to do this work. Jeff sees me, believes in me, believes in this work and is still not scared.


Thank you, my beautiful man x.


Not that they’ll ever read this, but I want to say thank you to our beautiful sons. They’re growing up way too quickly for their own good – and ours – and it brings such joy to see them learning who they are and then bravely putting themselves into the world in each of their own ways. I love how politically and socially aware they are and how interested they are in the world. This makes for excellent conversations over the dinner table, which sometimes groans under the weight of the food they eat.


I also want to say thank you to those who’ve contributed to the content in The Loneliness Guy this year: Mike Campbell, Michael DiIorio, Matthew Todd, Jesse Elkins, Angello Floresco, Craig Cassey, Ed Wilson and Shannon Battisson. I’ve been inspired by their wisdom and insight and I hope you have been, too.


A special thanks to Star Semper, my awesome business coach, who’s helping me take my vision for The Loneliness Guy and The Lonely Diplomat into the global resource I want it to be.


Another enormous thank you to Dr Michelle Lim and the team at Ending Loneliness Together in Australia, Pete Bombaci from the GenWell Project in Canada and Eddie Garcia from the Foundation for Social Connection in the United States for helping me get my message to a wider audience. I’m all about impact, and I’m grateful for their support to amplify that impact. I’m humbled to be in their presence but also love the perspectives, insight, wisdom and encouragement they bring our conversations.


I’m also HUGELY grateful for the advice, support and friendship of Dr Sara Quinn from the Australian Psychologists Society to help strategise ways of getting my work to support those doing the supporting. When Sara and I get together, it’s hard to know whether I’m buzzing from the caffeine or the excitement of the potential and need for this work.


Finally, I want to thank you, dear reader for being part of the growing global community of gay and queer men who are beginning to sit with their loneliness. The content is sometimes confronting, and I hope you’re beginning to understand your thoughts and feelings better. There is a special kind of loneliness when you work on loneliness, and I really love receiving your notes saying how the content I provide is helping and supporting you. You are why I do this.


See you in 2023 with some more content.


Be awesome

~ Phil x


 

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Important notice: All views expressed above are my own/the authors 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 Services page if you feel that you need the services of a licensed helping professional where you are in the world.

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