Today’s topic of discussion is isolation, a complex concept that encompasses feelings of loneliness, not belonging, or being ignored or shut out. It can make us feel alone, separated, and disconnected from others, even when we are surrounded by people. The experience of isolation can be likened to a sense of being unplugged, unattached, and always solo. It can make us feel unimportant and insignificant as if we don’t matter to anyone, including ourselves.
Isolation can manifest in various ways, such as intentionally or unintentionally withdrawing from social interactions or not responding when others reach out to us. When we keep our thoughts and feelings to ourselves, we are essentially isolating ourselves and numbing our emotions. This act of isolation can be a way of hiding from reality or denying our own experiences.
What to do if you feel isolated
Isolation is a complex set of feelings and/or actions. It’s the sense of loneliness or of not belonging that we get when we feel ignored, shut-out, invisible, or like we don’t matter. If we don’t have a voice (meaning that we don’t have a “say” in a decision-making process, or if we do speak up, our input doesn’t count) we may feel alone, set apart, and separated from others.
Isolation feels like disconnectedness, of being unplugged, unattached, singular, on our own, forever solo. We can feel that way even when we’re not alone. I have actually felt isolated in a room full of people! Isolation can feel as though we’re unimportant to everyone and that we matter to no-one, sometimes not even to ourselves.
When we intentionally (or unintentionally) withdraw or cocoon, or we don’t respond when others’ reach out to us, (or we don’t reach out) we are cutting ourselves off from the rest of humanity. When we live inside of our heads, by not sharing our thoughts and feelings, we are practicing an act of isolation. Isolating is a type of numbing, a kind of hiding from ourselves or from reality, and it can be connected with denial.
Diane M. Metcalf, MS