Vienna, Austria circa 1987: I had just graduated from college and was alive with the excitement of exploring the world. My brother, Warren, had been living in this breathtakingly beautiful city for several years and I missed him. He was acting in an English-speaking movie starring Ben Kingsley and I got to hang out on the set; I even got a day’s wages as an extra playing a Russian peasant in the film. Warren met his girlfriend, who would later become his wife, on set. She had the good fortune to be a Russian peasant, too.

I learned a lot over that summer and what would become my extended stay. My brother was newly in love and busy. He moved in with his lady-love and left me to fend for myself in his cold-water flat. In 1987 there was no Skype, no Blackberry, and no cell phones. There was no home phone or shower in his place. Did I mention that I didn’t speak German? I remember curling up on his uncomfortable bed one day sobbing. How I could go home to Brooklyn – to my parents – owning up to my massive failure? After all, I set out to conquer the world and now I couldn’t even conquer my loneliness. It was time to make a decision, but how? I remember there was a moment about an hour into my unheard cries (and my episode of deep self-pity) when something inside me stirred.

The realization set in that I had to become aware of my deeper emotions - fear, loneliness, dejection, overwhelm, depression - by bringing them to the surface and asking myself some difficult questions. I did and I made my choice. Here are some of the questions I asked:

Coaching Question 1: Ask Yourself: What if there was no going back?

Is any place ever the same once you’ve left? What if I decided to go back to the States and my parents didn’t have a room for me? Were they even still together?

Coaching Question 1: Ask Yourself: What if I took a chance and went out of the apartment today?

The choice was to go out even though I was scared or to stay in and get more depressed. I knew the depression and loneliness felt. I knew I wanted to feel better. I committed to take an action.

Coaching Question 1: Ask Yourself: What’s the worst thing that could happen?

I thought I’d get lost. Without a phone to call my brother, I imagined that I’d never find my way back home. I was “catastrophizing”. Finally, I decided to write down my address. Knowing that if I got lost, I could show it to someone who could help me. Simply, too, I remembered that lots of people in Vienna spoke English.

Coaching Question 1: Ask Yourself: What if I trusted that someone would see me, notice me, and talk to me?

My thoughts started shifting from fear to possibility. I was so scared that I was invisible (an issue I dealt with growing up), that I had been afraid to even take a chance and go outside the apartment. I knew I needed to be filled up with worth from a place within myself. The challenge was to stop thinking only about myself, because it made me self-conscious which led to withdrawing from social possibilities.

Something extraordinary happened when I made the decision to stay in Austria.

I started consuming the books on my brother’s shelves and suddenly I had friends again – the characters in these famous stories. George Orwell became my favorite author. I imagined all kinds of exciting adventures that my future would bring. I left the apartment. I took the U-Bann (the Austrian subway) and went just one-stop so I could explore new things and definitely find my way back home. The next day, I summoned up my courage and I extended my exciting exploration by another stop on the line.

I found my way home. The next day I found a farmer’s market and returned with loaves of bread and delicious cheeses. Fresh air, fresh surroundings, fresh experiences. I began to enjoy being in another country and culture and by the time I thought about it, I wasn’t lonely or depressed anymore. I was excited and alive again and not only looking for possibilities of growing and stretching myself, I was expecting and welcoming it.

At the end of the summer, my brother invited me to extend my summer vacation to help assist with stage-managing a play that he wrote and was directing. He apologized for not spending much time with me and assured me that would change.

I decided to take a chance and stay. I had learned to transform my loneliness into life lessons. I could live alone with myself and not be lonely. I said YES. And oh, the adventures and friendships I made.

Author's Bio: 

Want to reprint this article in your ezine or website? You may, as long as it remains intact and you include this complete blurb with it: Brenda Adelman, MA in Spiritual Psychology, referred to as The Queen of Forgiveness, teaches people who have a lot to offer but are stuck, how to become present, enjoy more success and peace in their relationships and lives by letting go of old and new resentments using the art of forgiveness. For FR*EE tips on how to finally be happy and free visit