Unexpected Causes Of Loneliness + What To Do About Them
As a relationship therapist, many of my clients come to me because they feel isolated. There are many factors that can create or contribute to isolation, but here are a few of the most common ones I see, along with ways to feel more connected.
1. EQ/EI and emotional isolation
If you have been involved in emotional and/or spiritual growth, then you have been raising your EQ—emotional quotient, or EI—emotional intelligence. While this is crucial to raising your consciousness and your frequency, it can, ironically, create problems in your relationships.
You might find yourself no longer feeling connected with some of your family or some longtime friends. We connect with others at our common level of emotional health or brokenness. The more you heal, the less you’ll connect with people with whom you once shared a common level of woundedness.
If previously you connected by complaining about your life or judging others, now you might feel bored by these wounded ways of relating. You want to surround yourself with people who are open and kind, not people who are closed and controlling.
When this is the case, you need to make a concerted effort to meet new, like-minded people. Letting go of people with whom you no longer feel connected can be challenging, and there may be a period of time when you feel isolated, but eventually you will meet new friends.
2. IQ and intellectual isolation
Some of my clients are extremely intelligent and find it difficult to spend time with people who are not as intelligent as they are. This is not necessarily intellectual snobbishness.
More often than not, it's about feeling that they can't relate or connect with people who don't understand their ways of thinking or how quickly their mind works. This can cause them to feel too different to be comfortable in many social situations.
In order to not feel isolated, especially smart people need to make an effort to meet other highly intelligent people. In order to do this, you need to accept that this is important to you. Do not judge yourself for being arrogant if you simply enjoy being around very intelligent people.
A married couple who are both clients of mine shared with me how socially isolated they sometimes feel. They are quite wealthy and told me that their affluence actually isolates them. Since I've never been that wealthy, it had never occurred to me that affluence could cause isolation.
They explained it to me like this: "Some people are intimidated by our wealth. They think we might think we’re better than they are, so they don't invite us places. It's not easy to find people with comparable levels of wealth, so often we feel alone."
These people purchased a second home in a very wealthy community and are slowly and intentionally meeting people who are not intimidated by their wealth. No, these don’t have to be other wealthy people. But it is important to find a network of people who understand your challenges and way of living.
4. Living situations
Decades or even centuries ago, when most people lived in small communities or tribes, it was very rare to feel isolated. In his wonderful book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell writes about the Italian town of Rosetta in Pennsylvania.
In Rosetta, a small town of about 2,000, people live in multigenerational homes, and everyone in the town watches out for one another. Their living situation not only fosters connection and caring but physical health as well.
The residents of Rosetta don't die of heart attacks or cancer, even though their diet isn't wonderful. They die of old age, and the defining factor is the lack of stress that results from living with others who care about them.
Today, whether you live in a big city or on a farm, it can be hard to find ways to connect with others. Families are divided and often live far from one another. Our current living situations foster isolation, which is why there is a movement toward intentional communities where like-minded people can support one another.
I'm hoping that this trend continues. There is so much less stress and more joy in living in a like-minded community with people who care about you and have your back.
5. Social anxiety and fear of rejection
Due to the rejection that many have experienced as a result of child abuse, neglect, and bullying, many people suffer from a crippling fear of rejection, which can show up as social anxiety. The fear of ridicule and humiliation can be so debilitating that it causes self-induced isolation. If this is your reason for isolation, therapy will be a big help to you.
Isolation is not healthy for anyone. If you feel isolated, I hope you look into ways of resolving it. Your health and well-being will thrive or wither depending on your level of connectivity.
Ready to learn more about what anxiety, brain health, and your diet all have in common? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Dr. Mark Hyman.