In a previous article, I talked a bit about the dangers of ‘isolating’. Everyone has a tendency to want to remove themselves from the world when they are sick. That’s what SICK DAYS are for :-). However, when the need to isolate becomes more and more often, it can completely affect our quality of life. Now, when we talk about isolating, we are usually talking about the act of physically isolating. It is possible, however, to isolate in another way. I suppose you can call it ‘mental isolation’. I’ve found that I am most prone to this sort of behavior after I’ve become so frustrated I don’t want to talk or share any more. I begin to say just enough to keep someone from asking, ‘what’s wrong?’ I’m tired about talking about ‘what’s wrong.’ I’m tired of talking altogether. I begin to feel like no one understands and that they never will. So what is the point of doing the dance? This is a very natural way to protect ourselves when we feel vulnerable, but can be very destructive to our relationships, our wellness and making any progress with our illness.
You can begin to mentally and emotionally isolate without even knowing it. It can happen slowly, progressing over the course of days, months or years. This is why it is so difficult to become aware of sometimes. To our loved ones and co-workers, we may just seem a little disconnected or ‘off’. People around us may not notice at all. It all depends on how bottled up you are and how long you’ve been stewing. This is where self-awareness and mindfulness can become very important. Pay attention to your relationships with others and see if they are as open as you would like them to be. Do you feel loved, supported and understood? Sometimes being understood can be a lot to ask. We all feel the need to be understood, but sometimes, no matter how well we explain ourselves, the people we love simply cannot understand. There has to be a certain amount of acceptance with this. Feeling loved and supported is different. I don’t know about you, but I feel as though I have a right to be loved and supported. I think we all do. It’s just that we can’t become upset when the love and support doesn’t come in the exact form that we have envisioned. We have to be flexible with the people that are legitimately important to us, just as we hope they can be flexible with us.
So once we have figured out that we are emotionally or psychologically isolating what to do? This is a difficult thing to just STOP doing. At this point, I believe a good therapist is the way to go. It’s easier to talk about all those bottled up things when we know that we aren’t going to be judged, criticized or argued with. There are all kinds of therapy to consider if you are not the ‘talk therapy’ type. The key is focusing on why we are shutting off and finding a way to bring some perspective and balance to our lives. It’s not healthy to cut yourself off from the world around you. You will miss an awful lot and the longer you isolate the more natural it will become for you. The longer this way of thinking persists, the harder it will be to stop. Just something to consider.