Many people think that solitude is the same as isolation. That is not the case. Solitude can be strengthening. Feeling isolated is the worst of experiences. We believe no-one is interested in us, wouldn’t mind if we are there or not. In my opinion, this is sheer torment.
People who are isolated tend to think it is the other person’s fault for not coming over to see us or telephoning us, even if only sometimes.
When I felt isolated a learned a lot about myself. I started to observe that I never telephoned any of my acquaintances or relations, particularly when I was going through a difficult patch. Actually, I started to notice that I only telephoned people to sort out a date so we could have something to eat and catch up with each other’s news. These occasions would happen every once in a while.
I also noticed that I was struggling against calling them and started to believe that “they wouldn’t be interested”, “They have their own problems to worry about”, “I do not want them to think I am dependent on them” and more thoughts in a similar vein. I would then go on “I’m strong enough anyway”, “it’s not that important and then, almost inadvertently, I would continue to keep friends at a distance. I didn’t even notice I was creating the very isolation I had been complaining about.
What made it all even more difficult that, without intending it, I kept presenting an impression of self-sufficiency and strength that put people off sharing their own difficulties – now probably both of us felt isolated.
Here are a couple of approaches that can get us out of this horrible place:
Start paying attention to your thoughts. What do you say to yourself that keeps you isolated? What do you believe about yourself and others and what do you expect of yourself and others? Do you expect to be strong all the time? Are you a control freak? How do you define strength? Keep notes about what you think, what you feel and what you sense in your body. Sometimes you might feel a bit nauseous when you feel uptight. Do you get a pain in your head when you’re stressed out or pressured? Once you have examined all these things take it further:
Face the fear and do it anyway. Call someone when you’re depressed and tell them of your circumstances. Then sit back and notice how they respond. Give yourself and your friend an opportunity.
Sue is an empowerment coach, speaker, facilitator and writer. For more information download your free mini course at http://www.sueplumtree.co.uk