Overcoming Loneliness in Alexandria, VA—Counselors and Coaches
Instagram. Facebook. FaceTime. Google Chat. Snapchat. Twitter. People are connected in ways that were not possible 15 years ago, and yet, loneliness and isolation are major challenges in today’s world. Just as people can be in a crowded room and feel alone, so can people be video chatting with someone on the other side of the world and feel alone. With modern technology, people are almost never by themselves, but many researchers have detailed how social media has contributed to the rising problem of loneliness.
Connecting with others and being around them are two distinct experiences.
Feeling lonely has more to do with an emotional disconnect from people than simply being away them. For example, many people update their status on social media, but are the updating their friends and family about their happiness, their fears, or their concerns? Going further, are they ready to listen without judgment as their loved ones share? To overcome social isolation, healthier connections must be formed.
“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.” —Amy Tan
Many people are either putting their devices down to have more face-to-face connection or they are learning how to use social media to connect more deeply with their friends and family members. They are following Amy Tan’s advice and sharing the truth of who they are. They are sharing joy and sadness as well as pictures from their dinner out with friends, and in the process, they are feeling less lonely.
Connection is a social skill that anyone can learn, and many people are working with a counselor or coach to learn it and overcome isolation. Skilled mental health professionals can lead their clients through mental and social exercises that may lead to more community and less loneliness.
Thriveworks Alexandria is seeing more and more clients who want to experience less loneliness and more connection. These clients and our therapists are working together to overcome isolation.
Two Tips for Overcoming Loneliness
Social skills are called skills because people can learn and improve them. Much like physical muscles that can be exercised and strengthen, so can people become better at connecting with their friends and family. Here are a few ways…
Tip 1: Reimagine Community.
All too often, when people think of community, an image from a Normal Rockwell painting appears. Unfortunately, community is not so idealistic, but there is good news. Community is not a 1960s clean-cut picture upon The Saturday Evening Post, but it can be whatever people want.
People define their own community. For some, community is joining a public park’s kickball league or playing pick-up basketball at the YMCA. For others, it may mean living physically near your friends, whom you trust. Community may look like friends pulling you away from your work to go out for drinks. Community can be anything people want. Take some time to think, where do you feel connected? How can you incorporate more of those experiences into your life?
People can also find community anywhere. For some, community is within a religious community. For others, it is in a bustling city where the corner store is open 24 hours a day. For others, community is a rural town where people have known each other for generations. For many, community can be online, intentionally connecting through a support group. Community can be anywhere people can be known.
Tip 2: Build an Inner Circle.
The difference between being with people and connecting with people is the difference between someone being an acquaintance and someone being in your inner circle. There are three criteria a person to be in your inner circle:
- Do you interact with this person outside of the context where you met them? If so, then the relationship is being built on more than convenience. Relationships that are built upon convenience will end when the context that formed the relationship ends. Deeper connections can survive in multi-contexts.
- Have you spent time with this person just to be together? Going shopping with a friend is great. Poker night can be a fantastic activity. However, if you can to be with these people without the activity, would you have anything to talk about? When you know that your poker buddy is going through a divorce or your stop for a coffee during the shopping trip, the relationship is going deeper.
- Can you share the joys and hardship of life with this person? It takes trust to open up about the triumphs and struggles of life to another person, and anyone in your inner circle should be trustworthy with the vulnerabilities you share. Likewise, you should be trustworthy to receive the vulnerabilities they may share.
Counseling for Loneliness at Thriveworks Alexandria, VA
Are you intrigued about learning more skills? Maybe you are ready to fight the loneliness in your own life. The counselors at Thriveworks Alexandria are ready to listen and help.
When you contact our office, you may be meeting with your therapist the following day. We also accept most insurance plans. We do not have a waitlist, but we do offer evening and weekend appointments.
Let’s start building community together. Contact Thriveworks Alexandria today.