Isolation and Loneliness in Richmond, VA—Coaches and Counselors
Most clichés have an element of truth to them—like the idea of being lonely in a crowded room. Most people can resonate with that experience. In fact, most people could update the cliché—feeling lonely while on social media. People appear to be more connected than any other time in history. At any time of day, they can log onto Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Grandparents in Florida can video chat with their grandchildren in Maine. But loneliness is a well-documented social problem that many people experience.
Unfortunately, having access to people does not mean that people are connecting in a meaningful way.
People may be tweeting, updating their status, and sharing their selfies, but they are still disconnected. Vulnerably sharing a fear or a hope with a friend is a different way of being known than curating a social media presence. People need to be known, or they may be feel lonely and isolated.
“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
As author Amy Tan explains, loneliness comes when people feel like they need to hide their truth. Thus, the antidote to loneliness is sharing more of oneself. It takes courage, but more and more people are fighting the loneliness epidemic with a cup of coffee and a face-to-face conversation. They are sharing more of their hopes and fears as well as pictures of their weekend activities. Connection and community are never fixed values, but people can increase and deepen their relationships. Many people are working with a mental health professional to learn how.
Many clients walk through the doors of Thriveworks Richmond because they feel lonely and isolated. By working with our therapists, coaches, and counselors, they are learning the social skills they need to build the community they need.
Diminishing Isolation and Strengthening Connections
A few generations ago, people often lived their whole lives in the same town. The friends they leaned upon for support as adults had been friends since they were children. But today, it is normal, even expected, for people to leave their home town for their education and careers. Each new degree and each new job often means a new city and a new community.
As many people are learning, it is easier to talk about making connections than to do so. It is not usual for people to have family members or close friends in the city where they live. The good news is that social connections are not fixed. When people prioritize relationships, they can often improve them. They just need to know how. Here are a few tips for strengthening relational connections…
Tip #1: Redefine Community So That It Works for You.
Community life, without a doubt, is changing, and within any change process there is opportunity. People have much more choice in defining their own community. People can define their community as anything and form community anywhere.
Some people will define community as volunteering—coaching or serving. Others will define community as joining a club, an association, or a religion. The important part of community is being known. Think about who you are and how you can express that with other people.
Community can also be found anywhere there are people—bustling cities, quiet towns, sprawling suburbs. Some of these locations work for certain people. Some of them do not work for certain people. As you think about your next move and setting up life, find a community that works for you.
Tips #2: Cultivate Inner Circle Friends.
Acquaintance relationships form fairly easily, but they dissolve easily as well. Deep friendships—inner-circle friendships—take time and care to form, but they do not easily break. To cultivate inner circle friends, you must…
- Establish the relationship beyond the original context where you met each other. True friendship can survive a context change. You may have met the friend at work, but to be more than an acquaintance, you and your friend must spend time together outside of work.
- Spend quality time together. Of course, inner-circle friends will play a round of golf together or meet up for manicures, but they will also ditch the activities at times in favor of just being together.
- Share about your life. Inner-circle friends know if you are going through a divorce or working toward a goal or struggling to raise children. Likewise, you know about what is happening in their lives as well.
Counseling for Loneliness at Thriveworks Richmond
Loneliness is a big problem in today’s world, but many people are tackling the challenge. People can work to increase amount of connection and community they experience. If you are unsure how to build community, a mental health professional may be able to help. Thriveworks Richmond offers counseling and coaching for overcoming loneliness.
When you contact our office, a person will answer your call and help schedule your first appointment, which may be within 24 hours. We accept most forms of insurance, and we offer evening and weekend appointments.
If you are ready to start building deeper friendships, we are ready to help. Call Thriveworks Richmond today.