Hilary Silver is a clinical psychotherapist turned master coach, mentor, entrepreneur, and CEO. After building a busy and successful private practice for 14 years, Hilary discovered coaching in 2017 and decided to close her practice and launch an online coaching, wellness, and empowerment company for women.
Hilary Silver now spends her time mentoring women which gives her the ability to witness and support their life-changing transformations.
In this interview, Hilary Silver reviews circumstantial loneliness and existential loneliness that women sometimes feel, and how you can learn to overcome deep-seated loneliness and develop more meaningful relationships that fulfill you.
Why are the holidays such a lonely time for single women?
It can feel like it’s coming at you from all sides: company parties, friend gatherings, everybody getting together, all of the TV commercials, everywhere you go, the music is on and the holidays are all around you.
Who wants to go to a party where you don’t have your plus one? You are the fifth wheel. You are the single woman who’s invited to the family because you don’t have someone to be with. Maybe your kids aren’t with you, they’re with your ex. You may have time off of work, things slow down at work, or you’re not working, and so there’s a lot of empty time to fill. And you just sit and spin and realize that you don’t have somebody in your life. Maybe you’re hosting a party, but you’re doing it alone.
There are other aspects that may bring you down: not having somebody to open presents with, not having somebody to buy you a present, having to sit at the kiddie table. Being asked, “what are you doing for the holiday?” a thousand times, or asked if you’re spending it alone.
What are other major triggers for loneliness?
Things like kids leaving for college and facing an empty nest without having somebody is a big motivator for women to figure things out. Even though they’re going to have freedom and they don’t have to worry about dating with kids anymore, it’s really scary to not have the kids as an excuse to not date and to have all this free time that they used to put into their kids. There’s a lot of empty time and space to fill.
Life transitions can make people feel lonely, like friends moving away, or changing jobs when you had a lot of friends at that job. Even if those were “job friends”, not true friends, they still take time and space. Sometimes, friendships run their course and they end, and the season of that friendship has ended. There are so many things that happen in our lives that make it difficult and not having a companion to do things with, who’s a steady constant in your life when all of those life transitions are happening, makes it difficult because you just feel like you’re alone. Change is hard. And when you are on your own and you don’t have a constant partner, it can make you feel lonely. But what I want you guys to know is this is all circumstantial loneliness.
How do you define Circumstantial Loneliness?
Circumstantial loneliness is when the circumstances in your life make you feel lonely. You may be hit with the realization that you don’t have a partner, you don’t have a lot of friends right now, or your kids are leaving. If you stop working all the time, you might realize that you’re lonely because of what your situation is, and what the circumstances are in your life.
What often happens is women avoid the circumstantial loneliness by filling their time with anything and everything that they can. Some women take the edge off by drinking a little too much or doing some drugs, to get high. Some women shop, while other women eat. Without an outlet, it becomes consuming anxiety and it turns into an emotional state of being.
What is the difference between Circumstantial Loneliness and Existential Loneliness?
There’s another kind of loneliness that is deeper, more profound, and it’s what I call existential loneliness. So there’s circumstantial loneliness, and then there’s existential loneliness. Existential loneliness is when you are in a relationship, maybe even have somebody sleeping by your side, and you still feel lonely. It’s when you have lots of friends and you still feel a little bit lonely in your life. This is existential loneliness because you don’t feel like there is any true sense of connection, you’re lacking emotional intimacy, and you don’t feel truly seen. It’s when you don’t feel seen by the man sleeping next to you, and you feel lonely in a more profound sense of the word. It’s a deep loneliness to not have somebody bear witness to your existence on this earth.
What is it that makes you, you? Who are you in the very soul, in the heart of your very being? Your journey, the path that you are on, your triggers, your insecurities, your strengths, and the things that we think are idiosyncratic and strange and quirky about us. When we don’t let people see who we really are, we don’t feel seen. And that is way more painful than circumstantial loneliness. But the good news is that I believe existential loneliness is almost easier to solve than circumstantial loneliness because going out and deciding you’re going to make some friends can take time. Can you do it? Yes, but you’re going to have to get yourself out there and nurture and cultivate these friendships.
If you have friends already in your life, or you already have somebody that you’re dating or somebody that you’re in a relationship with, you can create connection and emotional intimacy anytime, anywhere, any place with anyone – if you are willing to do it. You can solve the existential loneliness problem on your own, single-handedly.
How is it easier to overcome Existential Loneliness?
When we fear that our ugly is so ugly that it’s unlovable, that our triggers and our insecurities are unacceptable, imperfect, and not good enough, it’s then that we fear rejection, abandonment, and somebody not loving us back. So we don’t let them in and we hold them at a distance. We keep them from seeing that stuff. And when you hold them out, they can’t see you. So if you don’t feel truly seen in your relationships with anyone, friends, colleagues, and lovers, even your children, it’s your own doing.
And that’s why it’s something that’s easier to fix than just going out and deciding you’re going to make a new friend. You can change this for yourself with the relationships that you already have in your life by deciding you’re going to do things differently. We all want to be fully accepted for all parts of ourselves. Most of the time, women are not going to let people see the parts that they consider unlovable. We make frantic efforts to avoid being rejected and end up creating the very rejection, disappointment, and loneliness that we were trying to avoid in the first place.
It’s astounding how much I blame others for how I’m not seen. But you have to let them in. I feel responsible after being vulnerable and connecting with others. I feel like I can do this with my friends, but it can be harder in an intimate situation. Your lovers have the power to hurt you more deeply than anyone else. Those who we let all the way in, even if that’s a friend, have the power to hurt us unlike anyone else.
How does your Ready for Love program address these fears?
The work that we do in the Ready for Love program is learning that all that stuff that you think is rejection-worthy, unlovable, shameful, reasons that you are disqualified from love – we turn that around and then the fear goes away. And then you learn that you’re resilient and you’re going to be okay no matter what. And then you learn how to let people in with the tools and the skills to do that. It’s a multilayered process. The deepest core, the nucleus, the epicenter of that deep subconscious programming, that is your belief system. It’s your identity, your paradigm that you live with about who you are, who you think you are, who you’re supposed to be, and how you talk to yourself. That then creates the way you think all the time, the way you talk to yourself.
That creates the fears and the anxiety and the shame and the embarrassment and all of that trepidation and ambivalence. And that creates the behavior of holding people at a distance, or being cool and aloof, or being hard to get to know, or people-pleasing and changing who you are and holding back parts of you, so you’re lying about who you are, and you’re hiding who you are, and you’re misrepresenting who you are, and you’re blocking it all to avoid that biggest fear from coming to fruition. You become fully aware that the very thing you didn’t want to do, you have done, because of your own triggers. You want to learn how to respond and not react.
Do you believe that we attract people with the same fears and difficulties that we ourselves suffer from?
We create our own reality. What you give and what you put out into the world, is what you get. The universe doesn’t give us what we want. It gives us who we are. And so if you’re afraid of intimacy and connection, you’re going to attract people who will be the conduit and the vehicle for you to avoid it.
Maybe these people are also unavailable. Maybe they’re also afraid. Maybe they’re also incapable and unhealthy. You’re going to continue attracting people who will give you the situation that will serve you in your desire to stay safe and protected and not be discovered and to not be seen. That’s why it’s so important to solve your loneliness. From the existential standpoint, you must be committed to doing this work on yourself and to change the trajectory that you have been on in all of your relationships, especially your romantic ones. Because your romantic partner, when you find that relationship with that man, he will be the constant in your life when all the other storms are happening out there with your kids, with your job, with your career, and with your friends.
What is the first step towards overcoming Existential Loneliness?
You have to learn to recognize and know yourself and figure out what you like about yourself, and what needs fine-tuning. Then you can learn how to share that with someone else.
When you avoid yourself because you’re scared of what you might find, and you are scared of what you might see when you’re honest with yourself about who you are, YOU don’t even know you. You’re not even seeing yourself. You don’t even know who you really are, what makes you tick, what you’re made of because looking at that is overwhelming and scary. Maybe you don’t even know how to look at it.
It starts with mindset and manifesting. Then you can learn about the Law of Attraction and how to use it. You can learn to love and value and accept yourself, and step into that version of yourself, and then go find love.