Several generations back, people were most likely born into the community where they would live for the rest of their lives. They resided with their extended families, and often, the friends they made during childhood supported them throughout adulthood. Today, almost the opposite is true: people are expected to leave their hometowns and chase after educational and professional opportunities. With each degree and with each job change, people must usually change locations and build a new community. People regularly live in a place where they do not have a close friend or a family member living near them. Understandably, many people today are also struggling with loneliness and isolation.
Of course, a brother in Seattle can FaceTime with his sister in Miami, or a grandma in Virginia can Snapchat her granddaughter in Wisconsin. However, just as people can be in a crowded room and feel lonely, so can people have every form of social media and feel disconnected. Researchers are learning that social media may be a leading contributor to people’s feelings of loneliness.
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness,
and the feeling of being unloved.” —Mother Teresa
Many people are experiencing what Mother Teresa describes—feeling unloved and lonely. Modern society makes connection difficult, but many people are pushing back. They might be turning off their phones in favor of an in-person conversation. They might be utilizing social media in a more connectional and relational way. Many people are also working with a mental health professional to learn how to establish connection in a disconnected world.
Thriveworks Newport News counselors and coaches are working with many clients who are experiencing loneliness, but they are learning how to form meaningful community wherever they may live.
Relational strength and physical strength have many similarities. Certain people may be more naturally athletic, just as certain people are naturally more skilled at relationships. However, anyone can become physically stronger, just as anyone can build more community into their lives. Many people work with a mental health professional to improve their social skills, just as many people work with an athletic trainer to improve their physical strength. A coach or therapist can identify specific ways you can improve your relationships, but to get started, here are a few tips.
Tip #1: Live your life instead of watching TV.
Think for a moment about the most popular TV shows of all time… Grey’s Anatomy, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, MASH, Friends, The Big Bang Theory, ER, Modern Family, Seinfeld, Scrubs, Cheers, Gilmore Girls, Sex and the City, Parks and Rec, Lost, Frasier… to list only a few.
These shows have very different characters, plots, and settings, but something else very important in common: their characters shared a deep community. They depicted friends helping each other through relational drama or pursuing their medical careers together or living everyday life. People are often drawn to them because they want the same for their own lives. However, watching other people live out community will do nothing to make community a reality in someone’s life.
Instead of watching a show about friends who live together, ask your friends if they want to rent in the same apartment complex. Instead of watching friends pursue their careers, call a friend and ask about how their job is going. Instead of watching friends meet up at a bar, call your friends and meet them at a bar. Community is often the result of intentional effort to cultivate friendship. Turn the TV off and spend your time and energy on people instead.
Tip #2: Reconsider What Community Means to You.
Communities are shifting, and with change, there is opportunity. People rarely inherit a community, but they can shape their community to be meaningful to them. People can choose what their community looks like and where they want to experience it.
How do you feel known and connected? Maybe you have volunteered to coach little league baseball. Maybe you have joined a book club. Maybe you donate your time to a worthy cause. These are all ways to establish community. Find something you love, pursue it, and you will often find other people doing the same.
Community can be formed around anything, but it can also be anywhere. People might think of a small town with its rituals and rhythms when they think of community, and certainly that is true. But a bustling city can also have community. Community can even be found online when technology is used well.
Coaching and Counseling at Thriveworks Newport News—Overcoming Isolation and Building Relationships
If you are struggling to connect with family and friends… if you feel isolated… if want more community… if you yearn for deeper relationships… you are not alone. Many people are feeling the strain and disconnect of modern life. Many people are also willing to fight for good connections with their loved ones, and they are working with mental health professionals to feel less lonely.
If you want to meet with a coach or a counselor, Thriveworks Newport News has available appointments for building community and overcoming isolation.
When you call our office, you may have your first appointment the following day. We offer evening and weekend sessions, and we do not keep a waitlist. Our coaches and counselors are credentialed with most insurance companies, so we can take most insurance plans.
Let’s get started. Contact Thriveworks Newport News today.