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Journey to Wholeness

Open the Door


By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.



As I watch my newly planted bulbs sprout, produce buds and, gradually open to beautiful flowers, I am amazed and inspired. Nature teaches us lessons all the time and one, very hard to learn, is how to grow and be open amidst challenges and difficulties. The topic of loneliness is one serious issue, that I have talked about many times. It is still a ‘social epidemic’ reported in nearly every part of the globe.


Vivek Murthy, former US Surgeon General comments, “We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness are increasing.” Research tells us that loneliness is as deadly as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day and more lethal than consuming six alcoholic drinks a day. It is associated with a greater risk of a reduced life span, and it is linked with a greater risk of disease, dementia, anxiety, and depression. At the very least it is a debilitating, painful experience.

The antidote is simple but not necessarily easy. For many, it is changing habits that are hard to break, a prison that may feel too thick-walled to penetrate. An experience shared on PBS Newshour some months ago was touching and encouraging. A mother of two adopted children, both of whom had experienced trauma, shared her story. She was concerned that her son was isolating himself and was not aware of others. She asked him to do one thing; at church on Sunday, open the door for one person. He reluctantly did this and was surprised at how grateful the person was. He began opening more doors, not just at church, but at other places as well. He began seeing others and their needs. Eventually, he started a support group for other teens who had experienced loss and trauma. I am sure when he opened the first door, neither he nor his mom could have anticipated where it would take him.

Another story about a Canadian teen described how he was bullied by his classmates until he felt extremely depressed, anxious, and self-loathing. He said he was sick and tired of being no one. He started opening doors for his classmates. At first, it seemed odd to him and others. He found himself greeting people and the other students responded positively. As he changed, they changed. One year later his situation had become totally different. He was named “prom king” and, needless to say, everyone felt connected, less lonely, and better about themselves.


The young people I see are finding new ways to connect in person rather than through social media. Some are limiting or getting away from social media platforms entirely. They are finding more positive ways to use SnapChat, Instagram, or TikTok. They report feeling less depressed and anxious, and more aware of their positive qualities and those of others.


I am challenging you to find ways to ‘open’ the door:

  • Open to yourself by asking frequently, ‘What am I feeling? What am I aware of with my sensory process? Knowing yourself helps you be more present and know what you may need for yourself or can give.

  • Open up to helping. Maybe it is opening a door, saying hello, or asking how someone is doing. You see them. What do they need?

  • Open yourself to changing old habits of unhealthy self-isolation. Self-reliance means using one’s own resources in facing challenges. Sometimes that means asking for help.

  • Open up to gratitude. Finding things to be grateful for changes one’s outlook quickly. It could be small: It’s sunny, you just saw a friend, you feel well, or?

  • Open up to less criticism of self and others. Negativity doesn’t change things. Finding positive solutions does.

  • Open up to “in person” contact rather than online/technology. Start small. One contact a day, no matter how small. Limit screen time.

  • Open up to thinking of the group rather than just the individual.

  • Open up to joining a group or club. Start a meetup group around a personal interest, in person, online, or hybrid.

  • Open up to prioritizing real-life connections. See the person in the store, the elevator, your workplace, the gym, on a walk. Make dates with people to do something fun or interesting.

  • Open up to volunteering; can be small or large, as you foster a sense of purpose, help others, and form real-world connections.

  • Open up to re-establishing old friends, and creating new ones.


Focus on finding solutions by creating new habits, and internal and external connections. As you ‘open doors’ I hope you find a new sense of self, a greater purpose, and…you’re not lonely. Try it and help others to do the same. We will be less lonely, one person at a time.

Jude LaClaire, Ph. D., LCPC is a counselor and educator at the Heartland Holistic Health Center. She is the author of the “Life Weaving Education Curriculum” that teaches creative, effective, holistic problem solving. For counseling appointments, seminars, in-service training or speaker’s bureau, call 816-509-9277 or;

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