Emotional Isolation: The New Sense of Being
If you were to close your eyes and think of a few people who really,’ understand you’; chances are that only a few lucky ones would be able to think of one or two such persons.
Most of the clients who come in for therapy have one common concern that they have family and friends whom they can talk to, but when it comes to sharing their feelings and desires, they don’t feel understood. Most of them can’t even share their emotions with anyone, in spite of having people around them.
For most of us, our story of life revolves around involves trying to figure out whom to talk to, spend time with and share our innermost feelings with.
How many times have you asked someone:” How are you?” and were genuinely interested in knowing the answer? How many times have we said: “I’m fine” or “I’m good” and felt the same way?
Modern day living has created a huge disconnect between our heart and mind and has put us in a state of emotional isolation. A state where we are far removed from what we feel, want to feel and from our relationships. With hundreds of friends on Facebook and plenty of followers on Instagram, we may think our social lives are rich. However, a large section of the population is unaware of the emotional vacuum they are operating in.
For most, life has become logical and practical and emotions are best reserved for the big screen. In a bid to make things work, to earn a little more, we continue to hide or suppress our real emotions.
We force ourselves to stick with jobs that don’t satisfy us. We take our health for granted because it’s too much of an effort to take care of ourselves. Our network of friends keeps expanding but the people with whom we can share our life stories, seem to be disappearing.
In this ensnaring world of social media, there is always a pressure to look good, to update experiences even before we enjoy them, to capture nature in our phones without really experiencing it. We are creating memories without even living them. Our lives are lived through the phone gallery and conversations are limited to WhatsApp.
"Emotions are left far behind"
Many studies have indicated that modern-day factors like longer working hours, the nuclear family set up, financial strains, spending too much time on social media, multi-tasking, lack of quality time for self, family and friends and content overload are they key causes of depression, anxiety and many other psychological issues.
Feelings of loneliness, insecurity, frustration and anger breed in our relationships leading to an overall state of emotional isolation.
This state is not just limited to adults but is also being experienced by children and adolescents. A common thread between a 16, 25, 40 and 60-year-old is the feeling that ‘I have no one to talk to’, ‘Nobody asks me how am I’, ‘I don’t have time for myself’, ‘I don’t feel like talking to anyone’.
We don’t really need major life events like the death of a loved one or moving to a new place to experience a sense of disconnect or isolation. Somehow, we seem to be operating in one, without even realising.
The signs of emotional isolation are-
- Feeling that you have no one to talk to or are unable to share your emotions with anyone
- Feeling that no one understands you
- Inability to trust in close relationships
- Feeling lonely or alone despite having close relationships
- Keeping or maintaining an emotional distance from people
- Feeling irritable, frustrated, low or anxious
Relationships today have become more about comfort and convenience than establishing a truer and deeper connection with another individual at a mental, emotional and psychological level. Not wanting to share someone else's burden of being heard, yet needing someone to hear patiently and empathetically, we find ourselves at loss.
However, there are steps that we can take to nourish ourselves and our relationships back to health and feel less emotionally secluded;
- Me time: is essential to develop a sense of understanding and love for our own selves. Whether we spend time engaging in our hobbies or things that we like or simply doing nothing and enjoy some quiet time with ourselves, this me time is important.
- Time with others: spending quality time with friends, family or even engaging in some community activities (minus our phones) or hobbies allows us to interact and connect with people and infuses us with energy and perspective.
- Listening to respond: most of us listen to react and not respond. It’s important to listen to the thoughts and feelings of the person to be able to respond appropriately.
- Dump the blame: to be able to explain our thoughts and emotions, it’s important to express them using self-expressive phrases like ‘I feel, I think, I want ‘instead of blaming someone.
- Acknowledge emotions: running away or ignoring our emotions (especially unpleasant ones) will only cause them to come back stronger. Therefore, we must observe what a situation or person is making us feel and then address it in an appropriate manner.
- Actively express positive emotions: emotions like care, love, trust need to be expressed openly for emotional walls to come down. Buying gifts for loved ones, cooking, helping, showing concern, asking them how they feel, smiling, complimenting are great ways to foster connection.
- Connect with nature: allowing our senses to enjoy nature without technology brings in a sense of calm and connectedness.
To quote Desmond Tutu,“The fundamental law of human beings is interdependence. A person is a person through other persons”.
Emotional involvements are meant to be grounding and nurturing. No matter how many people we know or talk to, only those connections where we can share our deepest feelings openly and honestly lie at the heart of deep emotional fulfilment. Something that may be missing from most of our lives; something that we need to recreate. Go out and mingle around with the old and the new, content yourself and others with positive emotions and let there be 'Emotional Integration'!