Being lonely in a crowded room may be a cliché, but like most sayings, it has an element of truth. With the advent of social media, the phrase may be even more true. In many ways, the world is more connected than ever. Instagram. FaceTime. Facebook. Google Chat. Snapchat. Twitter. If people have their phone with them, they are never alone. In an instant, they could be video chatting with people from all over the world. Yet, the growing problems of isolation and loneliness are well studied and documented.
Being with people and connecting with them are two different issues.
In many ways, the modern world allows people to be together, but not necessarily connect. This feeling of disconnection leads to the feelings of loneliness. For example, sharing a picture of a gourmet meal on social media is a very different experience than sharing a future hope with a friend. Overcoming loneliness means forming these deeper connections where people can share themselves with one another.
“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 working with a counselor or a coach to learn how to share more of their truth, as Amy Tan suggests. These people are initiating face-to-face conversations and are using their social media networks to make deeper connections. They are sharing their hopes and fears as well as their selfies. In the process, they are experiencing less isolation. The good news is that anyone can learn the social skills it takes to connect with other people and decrease loneliness.
The counselors and therapists at Thriveworks Manassas understand the challenges that people today as they form community, and we have helped many clients overcome isolation and build up strong support networks.
Reducing Isolation and Building Community
A hundred years ago, many people were born, raised, lived, and died within the same community. The friends they had in school were the same friends who supported them during hard times as an adult. Communities had deep roots.
Today, leaving one’s home town is the norm. Pursing educational and professional opportunities often requires that people leave the community where they were born. With each move and each job change, new friendships and new communities must be formed, but doing so is easier said than done. Many people today have no close friends and live far away from their family of origin.
This reality feels very bleak, but loneliness is not inevitable. People can build meaningful and deep community. They may not know how, but social skills are just that—skills that can be learned and improved. There are ways people can learn to connect with others. For example, they can
Community may not look like it did 100 years ago. People may not work and live in the same town where they were born, but community can be anything and anywhere.
What does community mean to you? For some, community means joining a book club at the public library. For some, it might mean coaching a youth soccer team. For others, it may mean moving into the same apartment complex with their friends. Think about where you feel connected. How can you pursue those experiences?
Just like community can be anything, it can also be anywhere. Community may be a rural town with its own rhythm and rituals. Community may be a busy city where corner stores are open all the time. When done well, community can even be online. If people can be known and be themselves, then they can form community.
Pursue Inner Circle Friends.
Making acquaintances is fairly easy, but taking those relationships deeper is challenging. However, people need deep friendship—inner circle friends. These are friends whom you know and trust. Friends are in your inner circle if you…
- Interact with them in a different context than where you originally met them. The relationship of an acquaintance ends when the context changes, but a true connection survives a shift in context.
- Can spend time with just them. Poker nights, shopping, golf, manicures…these activities are great, but true friends can cancel the agenda and just connect when necessary. There is no need for an added activity or a group for the relationship to continue.
- Trust them with your hopes and frustrations, and they trust you with theirs. Everyone needs a safe place to share and be vulnerable. True friends respect each other.
Coaching for Loneliness with Thriveworks Manassas
If you are feeling isolated and alone, know that many other people are feeling the same way. You are not alone in your loneliness. The coaches at Thriveworks Manassas have worked with many clients who are experiencing isolation, and we have seen that many people have people in their lives whom they care about. They are just have difficulty bridging the gap between being together and truly connecting. Our professionals have equipped these clients with the social skills they need to connect and to build deeper friendships.
If you are ready to start building a community and feeling less lonely, know that Thriveworks Manassas has appointments available for overcoming loneliness. We offer evening and weekend sessions, and we accept most forms of insurance.
Let’s get started. Contact Thriveworks Manassas today.