Something interesting happened at my latest divorce support group meeting. We found out that isolation, loneliness, and belonging are all interconnected. And, here’s the important part, they are all self-induced.
As it stands, we control whether we feel isolation and loneliness. It is a behavioral choice to fit in or be an outlier. Loneliness happens because we choose not to interact with others, stay behind our self-built walls, and use our fear as a shield.
Belonging, the opposite of isolation…
As humans, we need to belong. To one another, to our friends and families, to our culture and country, to our world.
~ Amanda Enayati in The Importance of Belonging It is rare for a person to find themselves purposely excluded and isolated (in situations outside of high school and prison solitary confinement). When you feel yourself “not belonging” take a look within to see what may be holding you back from joining in. Often it is our walls of protection that we’ve self-constructed, our fear of opening up to a larger circle.
When we go through a divorce or separation, we feel isolated…lonely. Our sense of belonging has been fractured. Belonging is the most important and least recognized need of the soul. To belong is to say “you are not alone”.
So how can we choose to belong when we’re in the midst of a relationship ending?
Most important is to remember that the rejection you feel is only from one person. Your worthiness is not defined by a single member of society. To feel worthy, interact with many people and give something of worth to the bigger group. By showing others your assets, you show your value and they will want you to belong.
The choice to put yourself out there, to open yourself up, to share your hopes and dreams, are the things that will be the building blocks of belonging. When you trust someone else with your experiences they, in turn, will trust you with their experiences. This two-way bond builds attachment, which strengthens the feeling of belonging.
Loneliness is brought on when we choose to isolate ourselves from attachment. We may feel we need to protect our heart from pain, but this protection only enforces the strength of the loneliness. The downward spiral continues until we’ve lost all feelings of connection and belonging.
If you are feeling lonely, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and put yourself out there. Call a sibling, volunteer, join a book club, rekindle a friendship, or visit the elderly. Each of these activities will help you to break through your wall of isolation and start down the path of belonging.