Just a few generations ago, many people were born into the communities that they would live in for their whole lives. They likely lived with or near extended family and multiple generations. The friendships they made as children sustained them as adults. Today, these communities are an anomaly. People often assume they will leave their hometowns first to pursue an education and then for professional advancement. It is common for a person to live in a city where they have no long-term friends or extended family members. Without a doubt, people today are fighting isolation and loneliness.
Some might argue that people who live disconnected lives can easily overcome the isolation through social media and technology. A grandmother in Florida can FaceTime with her grandson in Oregon. Sisters on opposite coasts can follow each other on Instagram. Families scattered geographically are all on Facebook together. However, researchers are saying that social media and technology may actually be exacerbating the disconnection. People may be sharing their selfies, but they are not sharing their true selves. In response, they are feeling unknown and unloved.
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness,
and the feeling of being unloved.” —Mother Teresa
Isolation is not the inevitable result of the modern, disconnected society. Many people are fighting back against their feelings of loneliness by building up their community. Many are also working with a coach or counselor to know how.
The counselors and coaches at Thriveworks Cambridge have seen many clients who are overwhelmed by how isolated they feel. By working together, our professionals and these clients have learned that deep community can be established anywhere.
Building Up a Support System
In many ways, growing a stronger support system is much like building a stronger body. Some people may have more natural, physical strength than others, just as some people are more gifted relationally than others. However, anyone can improve. Social skills are just like another other skills—with practice and time, people get better at relating and connecting with others. A mental health professional can help people discern the exact areas where they need to grow, but here are a few tips to get started.
Tip #1: Stop watching TV. Instead, live your life.
Consider TV shows of all time that gained significant followings… Frasier, Seinfeld, Parks and Rec, Grey’s Anatomy, Gilmore Girls, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Modern Family, MASH, The Big Bang Theory, Friends, ER, Scrubs, Cheers, Sex and the City, Lost… are just a few that come to mind.
The characters, settings, and plots of these shows were drastically different, but it is likely the reason they grew to such popularity is the same: their characters shared deep relationships that many people want in their real lives. Whether they were friends doing nothing, supporting each other through relational drama, or pursuing their medical careers together, fans are drawn to the connection these characters share on screen.
Unfortunately, relationships in real life are much harder. They are never scripted, and they take a lot of work. Real life is messier than a sitcom, but the rewards of real-world relationships are worth the effort. Know that some awkwardness in relationships is normal and push through.
Next time you feel lonely, turn off the TV and call a friend. Instead of watching characters meet up for Sunday brunch, invite your friends over for mimosas. Instead of watching a crazy family TV’s reunion, start planning your own family’s reunion.
Tip #2: Redefine What Community Could Mean for You.
Local communities are changing, and with any shift, there are challenges and opportunities. Of course, one challenge is that people do not inherit their communities, but one opportunity is that people can define community in a way that works for them. People can experience community in any way and in any place they want.
In what ways do you feel known? Maybe you love to volunteer—at an animal shelter or as a youth coach. Maybe you love reading or knitting and want to join a club. Maybe a religious practice is a part of your identity. Pursue what you love, and more than likely, other people will be right alongside of you.
Just as community can be formed around any activity, so can it be found anywhere. For some, a small town is the right place. Others want a bustling city that never sleeps. Community is everywhere when people know how to look for it.
Thriveworks Cambridge—Coaching to Build Deeper Relationships
If you struggle with isolation… if you are one of many who live far away from loved ones… if you are ready to build stronger relationships, you are one of the many people living in the midst of a modern, disconnected world. You are also one of the many who are fighting for community. The coaches and counselors at Thriveworks Cambridge are ready to fight with you. Our professionals have helped many clients establish deeper relationships and overcome isolation and loneliness.
Thriveworks Cambridge has appointments available. When you contact our office, know that a real person will answer—we do not have a voicemail or an automated response system. New clients frequently meet with their coach or counselor within 24 hours of their first call. Our professionals are paneled with most insurance companies, which means we can accept most insurance plans. We also offer evening and weekend appointments.
Let’s get started. Contact Thriveworks Cambridge today.