From Physical to Perceived Isolation
Approximately 17,000 people Google about loneliness every month. Some of these searches include “lonely feeling”, “lonely life” and “I feel lonely”. These numbers are alarming facts indicating the necessity of understanding and educating ourselves about loneliness.
In the past year, we have all become aware of what physical isolation is and continue to practice it to shield ourselves. This physical isolation has limited our social gatherings and participation in athletics, cultural, volunteer and religious activities. It has also changed the way we interact and maintain our relationships. We have restricted our physical contact to such an extent that it has led us to dream awake the moment we would finally be able to hug our loved ones without any fear.
“Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need — crucial to both well-being and survival.” — Holt Lunstad
Although technology bridges a huge gap of communication today, can it fill the void of physical presence? With our new normal we sometimes find it difficult to checkup on our loved ones. It could be either us or the other person who might be going through a hard time. This need of being virtually present can create a fear of saying/asking anything inappropriate. Sometimes this fear can come in our way of expressing the care and concern we have for them. These changes in our interaction have led to an increase in the number of people perceiving isolation or feeling lonely.
Perceived isolation is the subjective sense of being alone even when we aren’t alone. This sense of isolation comes from a discrepancy between our desires and reality. The perceived variance between the relationship quality we desire to have and the quality of the relationship we perceive to actually have.
We feel a void and start questioning it. There is a lack of sense of belonging and security. We start pushing people away because we feel that there is no one who really understands or supports us. We find it difficult to trust anyone and start to question the very existence of our relationships. In these times it becomes important to perceive our relationships in accordance with our present situation. Reminding ourselves of the strengths and positive aspects of these relationships can be a starting point. Then one can move towards enhancing the existing relationships through engaging in creative activities.
This sense of isolation can also lead to a negative self-evaluation. In this case, it becomes important to work on self-acceptance and practice self-compassion. Further, we at ManoShala believe that mindfulness activities can also help one to become more open and accepting of the present experience which helps in dealing with loneliness.
Muskan Gupta, Psychologist, ManoShala