I Look at all the Lonely People

Remember the old Beatles song – Eleanor Rigby?  The main line was “I Look at all the Lonely People.”  The American Sociological Review published a disturbing study a couple years ago.  In 1985 Americans reported that they had three close friends.  By 2005 it had dropped to just two.  Today most people cannot name one.  In George Barna’s church research he shows that 70% of pastors do not have one close friend they can confide in.

Many people drive cars to high-rise offices where they take the elevator to an 8th floor cubicle.  At night they return home, hit the remote to open the garage door to their house and walk in alone.  The neighbor’s house may be 20 feet away but without a sidewalk, years may pass with no contact.  As this kind of isolation increases, we are at higher risk for a variety of physical, social, psychological, and spiritual ailments.

I sometimes joke that some of the people who come to me for coaching are just paying me to be their friend.  And yet I take that very seriously.  That is a real element that can’t be ignored.  If you are a counselor, coach or friend and feel that you have not added any new scientific insights or knowledge to the relationship, perhaps your most significant role has been to be a friend.  Think how often people go to a physician just hoping to have someone actually listen to them for 2-3 minutes.  Your listening skills are just as important as your technical or clinical knowledge.  People will consider you a great coach if you listen well.

The Beatles song concludes with:

 Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name

Nobody came

Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved.

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong? 

Are you the one person someone else can confide in?  Do you have two people with whom you are comfortable sharing your most intimate thoughts?

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