Isolation can be a result of childhood emotional neglect and its accompanying symptoms. In adulthood, it often reveals itself as loneliness.
Why is that? Because childhood emotional neglect causes feelings of shame, inadequacy, and fear.
While you may act upbeat, happy, and positive on the outside, deep within you feel unworthy and insecure, constantly thinking that you will be rejected and abandoned. Maybe you fear that others will not like the real you. So you resist having needs and depending on others. Perhaps you fear any connection and the resulting feelings of vulnerability.
Loneliness is a reflection of all these deep-seated negative emotions.
Sadly, feelings of isolation create a vicious circle. The more lonely you feel, the more you think of yourself as unworthy, incompetent, and inherently flawed. The more you devalue yourself, the more you isolate. And the more you retreat into isolation, the more lonely you feel.
It never seems to end.
What can you possibly do to overcome the isolation of emotional neglect and leave this cycle behind?
Ways to Conquer the Feelings of Isolation and Loneliness
To heal the deep wounds that create isolation and lead to loneliness, it’s essential that you build up your ability to love, respect, and care for yourself. How?
1. Confront your inner critic
Pay attention and catch yourself in the act. It’s pivotal to replace negative self-talk. Replace, “Nobody could ever love me” or “People always avoid me”, with positive messages like “I’m lovable just the way I am” or “I do have people in my life that support me.” Avoid sweeping assertions about other people’s motives that will only make you sink deeper into the mire of isolation and loneliness.
2. Fight the urge to isolate yourself
Isolating yourself will only confirm your worst fears – that you’re not worthy of love or respect – because in your isolation you don’t allow any true outside feedback to filter through. Instead of capitulating to loneliness, fight the urge to give in and withdraw from others. Assume the best about everyone – including yourself – and open yourself up to the possibilities. Sometimes you just have to make yourself do the things you fear most.
3. Accept that needing someone is not a sign of weakness
There’s no shame in wanting close relationships in your life. Needing to feel a connection or wanting to rely on another person is a normal and healthy aspect of human existence. It’s something very positive. In fact, it’s a sign of confidence when you seek and are able to develop close connections. To begin, pay attention to how those around you feel and respond to their feelings and needs.
4. Cultivate an emotional support network
Weed out the toxic people and stick with the relationships that inspire you. Even if it’s just one person to start with. One trustworthy person can be the catalyst to ease those feelings of isolation. Allow yourself to feel vulnerable, find your voice, and let that person know and understand you. Tell them what you need, what you want, and how you feel. Share your experiences, your dreams, and your goals. And learn to appreciate the mature view and stability older friends bring to the table, too.
5. Appreciate the benefits of the occasional solitude
Simply being alone doesn’t have to make you feel lonely. Instead of seeing occasional physical isolation as a disadvantage, use this time of quiet and peace to reflect on and connect with your deeper self. Solitude can be valuable and enjoyable when you use it to create space to think. It can help you know yourself better and see your qualities and strengths much clearer.
Overcoming isolation takes strength, endurance, and patience. Hence, actively imagine yourself emerging from the loneliness. That mental picture will be imperative for keeping your goal right in front of you and your motivation strong.