Just 15 years ago, many people could have never imaged the way technology would connect people from all over the world. Twitter. Facebook. FaceTime. Snapchat. Google Chat. Instagram. In an instant, people can chat anytime, anywhere. A grandmother on the east coast can video conference with her grandchild on the west coast. If they have their phone on them, people are never alone. And yet, more and more people are experiencing isolation and loneliness. Many researchers have even documented how social media may be contributing to the rise of loneliness.
The truth is that being around people—either physically or electronically—and connecting with them are two different concepts.
Just as people can be in a crowded room and feel alone, so they can constantly be on social media and be lonely. People may be tweeting about their delicious meal, but are they opening up to their loved ones about how they are really doing and what they are feeling? Even more, are they equipped and ready to listen to their loved ones share their experiences and emotions? These healthy connections are the building-blocks of community and the keys to overcoming isolation.
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness,
and the feeling of being unloved.” —Mother Teresa
As loneliness is becoming a bigger social problem, many people are fighting for community. They are learning the social skills it takes to give and receive love, as Mother Teresa exhorts. They are taking the vulnerable steps of opening up about their sadness and joy. In the process of overcoming their loneliness, many people are working with a mental health professional. A skilled therapist can often point clients toward the emotional and social muscles they need to exercise as they build up their community.
The counselors and therapists at Thriveworks Philadelphia have worked with many clients who feel loneliness but who are also ready to pursue community.
Overcoming Loneliness: A Few Tips
The social skills needed to overcome isolation and build community are just that—skills. Like any other ability, people can improve their skill at connecting with others. Here are a few tips for how…
Tip 1: Stop Watching TV (It may be mocking you).
Think about some of the most popular shows of all time: Grey’s Anatomy, Friends, Parks and Rec, Scrubs, Lost, Cheers, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Gilmore Girls, Frasier, The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Sex and the City, Seinfeld.
What is the common thread in these shows? Community. Friends and families are sharing their lives on screen. All too often, these shows are popular because they display the connections people long for in their own lives but do not have.
In many ways, TV mocks those who watch it. Instead of watching friends share a home and pursue their medical careers together, so move into a home with your closest friends. Instead of watching a tight-knit family planning their adventures together, go plan an adventure with your own family. Instead of watching friends hang out at a bar or a coffee shop, go hang out at a bar or coffee shop with your friends. When people watch less TV and spend more time with their loved ones, they rarely miss the screen time.
Tip 2: Cultivate Your Inner Circle.
Bringing people into your inner circle means building deeper connections with them. When people are in your inner circle, they are more than acquaintances—they are friends. Here are some ways to know if a person is in your inner circle:
- Do you and this individual interact in different contexts than where you originally met? Many acquaintance relationships are built upon convenience. You are co-workers; your kids go to school together; you are in the same exercise class. Strong friendships can survive a shift in context. Acquaintance relationships end when the context ends.
- Do you and this individual spend time together without an activity? Getting a manicure or pedicure is fun. Poker night is great. However, deeper relationships move beyond the activity. Good friends can ditch poker night after a hard day at work and process together. Poker buddies are truly friends when they also know what is happening in each other’s lives, not just each other’s game strategy.
- Do you trust this person with your joys and challenges? Similarly, does this person trust you with their joys and challenges? It takes courage to share about your life, and people in your inner circle should respect what you share. Likewise, you should be the same type of person.
When people have an inner circle, they feel much less lonely, and the world feels a little less scary.
Coaching and Counseling to Build Community at Thriveworks Philadelphia
Are you feeling the loneliness of modern society? You are not the only one. Many people are experiencing loneliness, but many are also overcoming it and building the community they want. If you are ready to learn the social skills you need to form the community you desire, then the therapists and counselors at Thriveworks Philadelphia are ready to help.
When you call our office to make an appointment, you may have your first session within 24 hours. We offer weekend and evening appointments, but we do not keep a waitlist. Our professionals are also credentialed with most insurance companies which means we probably accept your insurance.
Community and connection are waiting. Let’s get to work. Call Thriveworks Philadelphia today.