Loneliness in Sterling, VA—Counseling for Establishing Community
Most people can resonate with the experience of feeling lonely in a crowded room. In many ways, people are almost never alone any more, even when they are not in a crowd. If they have their cell phone, people can connect in an instant to people all over the world. People have 24/7 access to other people through FaceTime, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Google Chat, Twitter and more. And yet, social researchers have studied and documented the rise of loneliness in this digitally connected time. People are feeling isolated even as they have access to connection through their smart phones, tablets, and computers.
The problem is that having access to other people and having an emotional connection to them are distinct and different concepts.
People can be together online, but they may or may not be experiencing community. For people to experience community, they need to be known and accepted. They need to care for other people and allow others to care for them. They need to share more than selfies. They need to share their hopes and dreams, fears and failures. Author Amy Tan puts it this way…
“Our uniqueness makes us special, makes perception valuable—but it can also make us lonely. This loneliness is different from being ‘alone’: You can be lonely even surrounded by people. The feeling I’m talking about stems from the sense that we can never fully share the truth of who we are. I experienced this acutely at an early age.”
Many people are bravely sharing the truth of who they are. They may be putting their phones down and meeting a friend for coffee. They may be using their social networks more strategically to form a deeper connection with their loved ones. They may also be working with a counselor or a coach to learn how to establish community.
Thriveworks Sterling is seeing many clients who feel lonely and want deeper connections with their friends and family members. Our therapists and coaches have helped many people establish healthy community and reduce their feelings of isolation.
Building Connections and Reducing Loneliness
A century ago, most people were raised in the town they where they were born. They grew up, lived, and died with the same people, the same community. The friends they made as children were the same friends they would lean on as adults. Connection and community ran deep.
Today, people are expected to leave their home towns to advance their careers and education. Each move and each new town means new connections have to be formed and new communities established. The result is that many people these days do not have friends or family members who live in the city where they live.
Building community and reducing loneliness can feel like people are fighting the flow of modern life. Finding meaningful connections takes work, but people who have done so would encourage that it is well-worth the effort. There are ways people can build up their community. Here are a few tips…
Rethink the Definition of Community.
Today’s communities look differently than they looked a generation ago, but there is opportunity in change. People may not inherit a community, but they can redefine it to be anything and anywhere.
Think about what you enjoy and how you feel known. Some people may go to a book club for community. Some may join a religious network. Some may volunteer—helping serve meals or coaching youth basketball. Some may give up professional opportunities to live near their loved ones. In many ways, people can define community in any way they want.
Similarly, people can find community anywhere. For some, they find community in an active city where restaurants and stores are open late into the night, and there is always something to do. For some, community is a quiet life in a neighborhood, busing kids to swim practice. For others, they want the rhythm of a small town. Wherever people live, they can find community if they look for it.
Form an Inner-Circle.
There is a big difference between knowing someone casually and forming a deep friendship. Everyone should have an inner-circle with people they have a deeper connection. What does the deeper connection look like? The following are a few criteria for a person to be in your inner circle.
- You interact with them outside of the context where you first met them. Acquaintances are relationships of convenience and often end when the context shifts. Friendships can navigate different contexts.
- You can spend time together without a crowd or an activity. Going out for manicures, playing a round of golf, organizing poker night…these can all be a part of a healthy friendship, but good friends can also ditch the plans and just be together.
- You trust them with what is really happening in your life, and they trust you with the same. Inner-circle friends talk about the latest episode of their favorite TV show and the over-time win that their team pulled-off. However, they also share what is happening in their personal lives.
Counseling with Thriveworks Sterling—Coaching on Community Building
Are you ready to work with a therapist or coach to build deeper connections and overcome loneliness? The professionals at Thriveworks Sterling have helped many clients form inner-circle friends and establish deep relationships.
When you call our office, know that appointments are available on the weekends and evenings. We accept most forms of insurance, and new clients often have their first appointment within 24 hours of their first call.
Let’s start building community. Contact Thriveworks Sterling today.