Our primary mission is to empower our clients to take control of challenging/ difficult areas in their lives through the use of skill-based, present-focused, goal-oriented, and scientifically-proven treatments.

Reframing Loneliness: finding contentedness in independence

Reframing Loneliness: finding contentedness in independence

Humans are social beings. We strive for connection. From the time we are born we are dependent on our parents. Then we start school and become dependent on peers. Later, we partner and depend on our romantic relationships. Healthy dependency is not problematic. Codependency gets a bad reputation, but it’s not innately bad! We need one another and feeling securely attached and safe enough to lean on someone else is a wonderful thing. The problem, though, comes when our identity, values, interests, and even self worth becomes so shaped from these connections that we are not sure what our core self wants, thinks, or values. If we are so tied to people, things, or external factors, who are we when those things shift? If a relationship ends? A job is lost? What happens when we lose this sense of connection and the people we become so dependent on? 

For the first time, many people are experiencing intense isolation and loneliness and it feels so scary and debilitating. We are isolated to our own bubbles, unable to connect or date in ways that we used to, not able to go out and get the interaction and feedback we used to depend on and thrive on. Without preferred activities and social interaction face to face, it’s easy to slip into a less mentally well state. Depression and anxiety thrive in loneliness. Add in social media and social comparison, and it’s a pretty tough situation. I promise, scrolling through social media and comparing ourselves to others does not help! 

Many of my clients are working through big heartbreak right now. And while yes, the loss of the relationship and grief of that love is part of it, another big aspect is the underlying themes of dependence and fear of loneliness. It’s hard to sit in the discomfort and unknown that comes from being alone. Seemingly simple things are not so simple: What do you do with your free time? Who are you without the external markers? What do you care about? How do you know what YOU want, not anyone else? Whether it’s the end of a relationship or a long global pandemic, these moments that can feel quite painful and not fun to sit in are actually offering us growth opportunities. If you can look at it, tolerate it, and dig in a little bit, you can come out the other side with a deeper understanding of your values and a greater level of contentedness overall that will benefit you post pandemic, in your next relationship, career move, or whatever comes next. 

So while it might be one of the last things you want, take this moment as an opportunity to do some self exploration. Learn to love yourself, validate yourself, take care of yourself. This might not come easily at first. Something we’ve used with clients is assessing your personal values – you can learn more about this and see a list of values here. Pick 5! Not 20! Or perhaps you try things out purposefully. Do you like to read? Want to try some crafts? Get a few supplies and play with it. For better or for worse, there’s no right way to do self care or to be a person. Explore your interests and your identity outside of other people. 

When we can learn to be happy as an independent, you can then find more fulfillment, be a better partner, and have more overall happiness in your life. The more we fill ourselves up and understand ourselves, the better everything will be. If you’re not sure where to start, that’s okay. Reach out. We can help – and it’s never too late, or too early, to start. 

Written by Amanda Turco, CHH Therapist.

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