When facing pain alone or when we feel we cannot share our problems with anyone, we often learn to put on brave face and hope nobody notices.
When we convince ourselves that we are the only ones going through a difficult time or when we are ashamed of letting anyone in to help us, we lose our connection to the whole and from allowing support and healing in.
It is said that nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors and it is true. So often, we are surprised to find that a friend that seems to have it all, or who is the envy of others, is living a double life at home.
It could be they are experiencing physical or verbal abuse from a partner, or have a serious addiction or they could be hiding their depression or anxiety or they could have a mental illness and feel too ashamed for others to know.
Lonely is isolation, it breeds negative self-identity and can increase sadness and anxiety. When we feel lonely, we feel like nobody loves us or cares what is happening to us. It’s hard to navigate this emotion, especially if we don’t have anyone to turn to and if we do, we often don’t feel confident enough to divulge our problems, for fear of rejection.
So as friends, Mums, Dads, mentors, teachers, how can we support and reach out to those who may feel isolated or overwhelmed in their pain?
Take time to listen to what others are saying
Often those crying out for help give us signs or say things that can give us an understanding of what is happening in their life. In order to hear, we must take time to listen and be supportive, even if they do not feel like sharing about their situation.
Simply holding a loved one’s hand lowers blood pressure and reduces pain. Studies show that lack of affectionate physical contact is associated with higher levels of stress hormones and inflammation. “Social contact itself also may have specific biological consequences that are important for health maintenance.,”
Encourage a good Therapist or Counsellor
If you feel out of your depth with a friend or family member and can see that they are in danger of self-harm to themselves or others in their current situation, then therapy can help address the emotional and psychological issues that lead to isolating behaviors.
Sometimes isolation is not a matter of choice; some people may report wanting to have friends and engage emotionally, but are unable to do so out of fear or because they do not know how to proceed.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama
Often we want to help others by telling them what to do or misjudge their issues as something we can fix quickly. In making light of their feelings, we invalidate them, which can lead them to internalizing their emotions more.
Even with support, it often takes a long time to recover from mental health issues or addictions and it’s important for the person in need to make their own decision towards change and the difficult steps towards healing.
Find simple ways to express your concern and care to others, whether it be your partner, child, other family member, friend, co-worker, or a complete stranger. A hug, a kind word, spending time with them, showing little kindnesses, making a meal, calling to check on them or just asking them how they are … it all matters more than you know.