Welcome to the new series on seeking happiness in our lives.
I'm starting this series with what I call the "Common Themes" in my life and among those I've helped throughout the years. The first common theme is ISOLATION.
Often I tell clients that others feel the way they do or have similar struggles and they're surprised by that. Why?! Why is it that we all believe somewhere inside of us that we're worse off than anyone else? Because, it's what helped us survive hurts and trauma's in life growing up.
I know in my own journey of healing, when I finally got the courage up to sit in a group listening to others share their stories, that sounded like mine, it changed my feelings of shame and self loathing immediately.
By simply stepping into a group of people or with a person, it gave me a feeling of not being so alone any longer. I realized that I wasn't worse than others and that I had something to contribute to others. Wow! that was so huge for me. I began to feel the joy of being seen in a positive light, not in my families view.
I grew up isolated and emotionally neglected as many of you have also. What we need to do now to get closer to happiness is to step out of the isolation and into relationships. I hear you saying, "easier said than done!" I know it's not easy at all. It was terrifying for me and I know it's much easier to be miserable and hide.
Today, as I think about the best way to encourage you and others toward this step, I believe the place to start is with the understanding that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. So here are some things you can do to work toward breaking isolation:
Start integrating yourself with others by first just getting out in public. Go to a populated place to walk around or sit for a little while. As you do, practice just simply smiling at others to feel the positive responses.
If anxiety increases, remind yourself that each of these strangers have their own fears and brokenness. This can help lower anxiety and increase a sense of belonging.
Try volunteering with a community organization or with your church community. This takes the focus off of you (which we like, right!) and you build relationships with others over this common bond.
Lastly, don't beat yourself up in the process. Pay attention to critical or shaming thoughts. Tell them to, "Sit down and shut up!" My personal favorite.
God bless you!