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Social Isolation Is Probably Damaging Your Health

social isolation

Loneliness

Social Isolation Is Probably Damaging Your Health

Live longer by abandoning social isolation

If you tend to isolate, and you believe that social isolation protects you from getting hurt, you might be surprised to learn of the harm you are causing yourself.

In my counseling practice, I often have clients who tend to use social isolation as a way of protecting against their fears – especially their fears of rejection and engulfment. They are so afraid of being disliked, disapproved of, attacked or having demands made on them, that they choose to avoid relationships, rather than learn how to deal with these challenging situations.

These people have never developed a loving Adult self, who knows how to take loving care of them when others are angry, rejecting or demanding. They believe they prefer loneliness over the challenge of relationships.

Yet, time and again, I see the devastating effects of constant loneliness. We are social beings, meant to live within the safety and connection of family and community. While, to people who choose social isolation, it seems safer to avoid relationships, the research shows that a lack of community has a very negative effect on health and well-being. Far more single people are unhappy than married people, and people without friends die earlier than people with friends.

“People in long-term marriages are much happier than people who aren’t….People who have more friends have lower stress levels and live longer.” The Social Animal, David Brooks, pp196-197

If you are a person who lives in social isolation, can you learn to feel safe without giving up being with people?

Yes, you can. You will feel safe when you learn how to take loving care of yourself, especially in the face of others’ anger, disapproval and demands.

This means that you need to learn a number of very important things:

  • You need to learn to define your own worth, so that you are not reliant on others’ approval to feel good about yourself.
  • You need to learn to not take others’ behavior personally. While others’ blaming, attacking, disapproving, rejecting, demanding or needy behavior can hurt your heart, it is very important to know that it is not about you, and not about there being anything wrong with you.
  • You need to learn to manage the loneliness and heartbreak of others’ unloving behavior. It’s one thing to feel lonely when you have chosen to live in social isolation – since you are in control of it – but quite another to feel the loneliness of others’ closed hearts and accept your helplessness over their choices.  Yet closing your own heart is not the answer.
  • You need to reach a point in your life where you know that being open-hearted and loving with yourself and others is why you are on the planet, and that there is no way of avoiding the loneliness and heartbreak of loving someone who is not open-hearted with you. This is why learning to manage the very challenging feeling of loneliness and heartbreak – and your helplessness over others’ choices – is so important. Without knowing how to do this, you will likely be too afraid to love.

This is where the Six Steps of Inner Bonding come in. Practicing Inner Bonding is what will heal the fears and false beliefs that keep you isolated and afraid, by developing your loving Adult self, who is capable of taking loving care of yourself in the face of others’ unloving behavior.

This is what will free you from social isolation.

It takes great courage to learn how to take loving care of yourself – to speak your truth and take loving action in your own behalf, risking others’ disapproval and rejection rather than giving yourself up to control how others feel about you, or isolating yourself to avoid the challenge.

Do you have the courage to open your heart and learn how to love yourself? Do you have the courage to open your heart to others and risk rejection or loss? No one can ever make it “safe” for you to do this; truly loving is, in a sense, one of the least safe things we do on the planet. It is also the most fulfilling and joyful experience we ever have.

[Margaret Paul Relationship Toolbox]

CO-CREATOR OF INNER BONDING Dr. Paul is the author/co-author of several best-selling books, including Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You?, Inner Bonding, Healing Your Aloneness, The Healing Your Aloneness Workbook, Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By My Kids?, and Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God? Dr. Paul's books have been distributed around the world and have been translated into eleven languages. Margaret holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is a relationship expert, noted public speaker, workshop leader, educator, chaplain, consultant and artist. She has appeared on many radio and TV shows, including the Oprah show. She has successfully worked with thousands of individuals, couples and business relationships and taught classes and seminars since 1967. Margaret continues to work with individuals and couples throughout the world -- mostly on the phone. She is able to access spiritual Guidance during her sessions, which enables her to work with people wherever they are in the world. Her current passion is working on and developing content for this Website, as well as distributing SelfQuest®, the software program that teaches Inner Bonding® and is donated to prisons and schools, as well as sold to the general public. Margaret is passionate about helping people rapidly heal the root cause of their pain and learn the path to joy and loving relationships. In her spare time, Margaret loves to paint, make pottery, take photos, watch birds, read, ride horses, and spend time with her grandchildren.

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