My Birthday is next week and where as i would normally be too excited for words, i have been having a really difficult time recently and the joy has been missing from my life hence the lack of posts. I decided to share another part of my life with you today by sharing an article that i wrote for Birthday Magasine. I am hoping that by sharing this it will motivate me to follow my own advice and start to find the joy in the small stuff again. If you have been having a tough go at it lately i hope this can help you in some way as well.
As humans we are naturally social animals. When we find ourselves becoming isolated, it can sometimes be a sign that we are turning against ourselves in some way. This can sometimes lead to feeling bad, being even more introverted and even the big D (depression). Loneliness, according to many experts, is not necessarily about being alone. Instead, it is the perception of being alone and isolated that matters most. For example, a person might feel lonely despite being surrounded friends and family. A soldier beginning his military career might feel lonely after being deployed to a foreign country, despite being constantly surrounded by other people.
Often we are feeling lonely or isolated we start having thoughts of not belonging or feeling rejected by others. But what we fail to realise is that we are our own worst nightmare and when we are alone and feeling alone we are in the company of our worst enemy i.e. the one within ourselves. The isolated place that we all have which is the perfect breeding ground for negative, self-critical thoughts. This internalized enemy is what leads to self-destructive thought processes and behaviours. This inner critic feeds into our feelings of isolation, encouraging us to avoid others and remain in a lonely state.
It is these feelings of loneliness that can trigger the voice within us that pollutes our mind with thoughts that we are unloved or unlikable. These reflect a hostile and unfriendly point of view towards us. We have to learn to find a way to treat these voices like they are coming from an external enemy, and learn to ignore them like we would anything else. Psychologists call the voice within us our CIV ‘critical inner voice’. The voice, that attacks you for being socially awkward but also criticises you for acting shy and quite in a group of people.
When it comes to feelings of isolation, the voice can be an especially complicated and strategic enemy. Sometimes, it will lure us into being alone with comforting-seeming thoughts (“Just go home and spend some time by yourself. You enjoy being on your own.”). At other times, when we start feeling alone, it will viciously attack us (“No one wants you around. They don’t like you. Just stay away from everyone!”) These cruel directives are not based on reality but on the agenda of a self-destructive point of view.
No matter what their source, voices that you are unlikeable are much harder to accept when you’re around people who like you. When we feel an attack coming, it is vital that we do not allow them to manipulate our behavior. Acknowledge your feelings of loneliness and isolation without judgment, saying to yourself “I feel isolated right now, so I am not going to give in to my critical inner voice.” Make your actions meet your words and don’t put yourself in an isolated situation.
Here are five different ways that might prove to be helpful against our fight against the CIV.
1) Realise that you are not alone:
Call or get together with people you know and even if you do more listening that talking, human contact makes establishing more contact easier. If you can as well, try to challenge yourself into taking the initiative in social relationships. This means don’t wait for people to approach you but rather you approach people.
2) Get involved in activities
Join a sports team or take a class. Volunteer within your community. If you are very shy, find a group for social anxiety, even if it has to be online- but always be safe online. Look for activities that interest you and that also involve groups of people like book clubs and church groups. By getting involved in activities you will not give yourself time to wallow and dwell on how alone you feel but rather you will experience some new things and have the opportunity to make new friends.
3) Differentiate between loneliness and solitude.
Loneliness is when you are unhappy to be alone. Solitude is when you are happy to be alone. There is nothing wrong with solitude, wanting to, or enjoying being alone. Alone time can be useful and enjoyable. Take yourself out for a date. Take a book, magazine, or journal with you if you go out to eat or have coffee on your own. And remember that people do go out on their own on purpose just to have "me" time by themselves; it is not as if people will look at you sitting alone and assume you have no friends.
4) Work on improving and making yourself happy.
If you're going through a period of loneliness, take advantage of it by doing the things that you want to do for yourself. This is a wonderful opportunity and you should be happy!
5) Consider joining a gym.
Working out and taking care of our bodies is usually the first thing that gets tossed aside when we get busy. If you're spending less time with other people than normal, try using that time to exercise. If you exercise at a gym, you might even meet some new friends or a new special someone. And remember your physical wellbeing can sometimes help with your mental wellbeing.
And finally remember that sometimes you may be the one to put yourself down. Don't let yourself be that person even if you have to go through awkward moments for short periods of time. It's better to take the chance to go out, meet people, and try new things. Love yourself so others can love you as well. Bear in mind that the reason you are self-conscious is because everyone is self-conscious. People are not focusing on your faults — rather, they are more likely focusing on their own.
I will talk to y'all soon and please tell me if you like these kind of posts so i can do more of them :)