Loneliness and Isolation in Knoxville, TN — Counselors and Coaches
Have you ever been in a crowded room but felt lonely? Most people have. It might be a cliché, but it resonates with people’s experiences. Being around people and being with them are two different experiences. The same is true for social media and being online. People can have Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, but still feel lonely.
In fact, a significant amount of research suggests that social media may be making people more isolated and increasing their feelings of loneliness. A grandfather in Miami, Florida may be able to see the pictures his grandchildren in Nebraska posted to Instagram, but are they connecting? Reading someone’s status update is a very different emotional process than listening closely as they share a life update during a face-to-face conversation.
“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
Most people curate their social media presence. While it is smart to use discretion when sharing about oneself online, a curated self is not necessarily the truth of who we are. As author Amy Tan explains, people need to be known and accepted for who they are. When these are missing in their lives, they may feel lonely, even if they have hundreds of social media followers and friends.
Loneliness and isolation are not an inevitable result of today’s world. Many people are using both their online and real-world presence to share their true selves and to build deep communities. Many people are also working with a coach or a counselor to learn how to build their support network.
Thriveworks Knoxville is helping more and more clients who are tired of the isolation they are experiencing. They are ready to be proactive about their community and pursue deep relationships.
Strengthening Relationships and Cutting Out Isolation
Not long ago, most people lived their lives in one town. They inherited a community when they were born, and they grew up, lived, and died with the same people. Today, leaving one’s hometown is the norm. Most people move frequently—pursuing educational and professional opportunities. A new opportunity may mean a new job which may mean a new city which may mean a new community. Many people live without another family member or long-term friend living nearby.
Relationships, social connections, and communities, however, are not static. People can improve the community they experience. They can build deeper friendships. They can form meaningful social connections. And many people are doing just that. Here are a few tips for how…
Tip #1: Reimagine Community so It Works for You.
How communities work is, without question, changing, but not all change is bad. Today, people have more freedom to define community in a way that works for them. What do you want community to look like? Where do you want to experience community?
For some, they join a like-minded community to establish relationships. They may take part in a religion, a civic association, or a club. Others find community in service—volunteering at a shelter or mentoring youth. Any activity where people are able to express themselves has the potential for community.
Relationships can also be formed anywhere. Some people prefer cities that never sleep. They may be comforted by knowing that the corner store is open 24/7. Others want a small, sleepy town with its unique rituals. Others want the rhythm of the suburbs. Community can be found anywhere. Think about what works for you.
Tips #2: Cultivate Friends Who Are in Your Inner-circle.
People cannot and should not be relationally close with everyone in their lives. It is normal and healthy to have acquaintances. It is also normal and healthy to have a few deep, inner-circle friends. What is an inner-circle friend? There are at least three criteria:
- The relationship has extended beyond the circumstances where it was first established. You may have met an inner-circle friend at book club, at work, or at your kid’s school, but now, you spend time in different contexts. Acquaintance relationships generally end when the context that established them ends. Inner-circle friendships can survive when the scene changes.
- You can simply be together without an activity. Good friends will clearly catch a movie together, play a round of golf, or go out for manicures, but they are also ok with simply being together.
- You each trust each other with what is happening in your lives. With inner circle friendships, when one friend struggles with parenting, the other knows about it. If one broke up, the other knows. If one got a raise, the other knows. They share their successes and failures.
Coaching for Building Community at Thriveworks Knoxville
The modern world makes community more difficult, but many people are fighting back the loneliness and fighting for deep community. They are also working with a coach or counselor to know how.
If you are ready to meet with a mental health professional to work on strengthening your relationships, know that Thriveworks Knoxville has appointments available. When you call our office, you may be meeting with a coach the following day. We accept most forms of insurance, and we offer evening and weekend appointments.
Contact Thriveworks Knoxville today.