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Do not confuse isolation with solitude.
Have you been emotionally scarred in your past? Did someone you trust lie, cheat or abandon you? Are you going through separation, divorce or break up? Has it caused you to isolate from others?
“I like being alone.” Really? Do you like being isolated and alone, or do you appreciate solitude once in a while? Differentiating the two separates healthy from unhealthy. When you are hurt by someone, the natural reaction is to pull back…isolate. Stepping back for a short period of time to reflect on the situation could be beneficial. Pulling away and isolating can sometimes initiate further withdrawal and depression.
DIFFERENTIATE THE TWO!
Solitude: Overall, solitude brings on relaxation, relief from stress and peace. It is a brief reprieve and usually used with the intent of recovery or recuperation.
Isolation: Is usually centered around feelings of devastation…rejection…humiliation. The intent is to block out anything and anyone who may potentially bring on anymore hurt.
DESTINATION ISOLATION: THE ARRIVAL
YOU KNOW YOU’RE AT RISK WHEN:
Your isolation begins leading you to believe that nobody understands what you’re going through
You stop going to parties, events and even public places
You purposely remove yourself from social activities because it triggers memories you have unresolved feelings about.
You would rather stay alone and isolated rather than putting yourself out there
THE DEPARTURE: STEP BY STEP
Depending upon the severity of the isolation, it is best to set up small goals that are easy to accomplish
Start by touching base with someone you’ve been out of touch with. Start small. Email, message on Facebook or text. When this becomes comfortable pick up the phone and call. Do this for a week or so, until you’re comfortable. Continue doing this, but move on to another step.
After the above process becomes natural, add something more. Make it within easy grasp. For example, when running errands, don’t isolate yourself by not making eye contact. Simply smile and say hi to the person in line behind you. As you become more comfortable, this gently evolves into small conversation. It doesn’t matter that you may never see this person again. What matters is that you opened up for a moment.
Take the risk and invite someone over, or invite them to a movie, the park, lunch. What happens if they turn you down? REJECT you? NOTHING! They’re probably used to you isolating, so you may have caught them off guard. They may just be too busy. Choose someone else. If you feel you are being left out purposely, move on to someone else and read this: http://wp.me/p3MON1-1I
By this time, you have at least 3 solid strategies that remove you from isolation. No matter how you feel when you wake up, follow through and continue taking these steps. At first, you will literally force yourself to do them. As time goes on, they become more natural.
When you reach this point, gradually add more steps. Do NOT add a step that you’re not sure you can follow through with. The way to decide this is to think about your really down and depressed moments. In that moment, would you be capable of going through the motions and following through with this new step? If you believe that even in your dark moments you can attain the new step…incorporate it. If you can’t, it’s okay. Give it a little more time and revisit it in a week or so.
KEEP IT GOING:
Join groups online and participate in discussions. This is so easy to do because it is over the internet and not face to face. However, it really helps you to open up and build solid relationships. Later on, you can take the skills offline into face to face contacts.
Stop isolating in public. Instead of standing to the side while waiting for kids to get out of class, or out of sports practice, go stand in the crowd. Start by simply smiling. When you’re comfortable, say hello. Gradually work into commenting on whatever the conversation is.
Attend things that you are invited to. Remember, if you are isolated, you will not be invited. Start by just making a short appearance. Next time, make an effort to socialize more, or longer.
When your kids are invited to places, contact the parents and offer to bring something. Ask if they need anything. Or simply just call and thank them for inviting your child and provide your number if they need anything.
Start attending local events. It doesn’t matter if you have little or no money. It costs little to nothing for a lot of local farmers’ markets, festivals, carnivals, car shows etc. Coming from a parent who never had money for quite a few years, the kids will get used to not being able to eat or come home with a souvenir. They will be glad just to have gone and honestly, kids have fun just about anywhere.
As time progresses, the idea is to completely eliminate isolation. You know that you have done this when the time that you are spending alone results in a positive outcome. THIS is solitude. You’ve taken a little time to be alone and return to the world refreshed…energized…happy.
This is a proven plan that is guaranteed to work if you apply it. If you slip back into isolation, get back up and try again. As with everything else in life, practice makes perfect. I don’t write about this because I was ‘in the mood.’ I write about this, because I genuinely know what isolation is like. I was scarred, battered, ill, depressed and felt worthless. I withdrew. As the days passed, it became easier just to stay isolated. When I tried to pull out of it, some small thing would happen that would ‘spook’ me into isolation again. FORCE YOURSELF TO INCORPORATE THESE STEPS. Before long your life will begin to ‘DIVERSIFY & MULTIPLY.’ Then one day, you will be able to relate to, and help someone else who is hurting just like you.
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For more information on isolation go to http://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml and enter ‘isolation’ in the search box.