woman holding padlock on bridge

February is a month often spent celebrating relationships. Whether with a spouse, common-law partner or otherwise, Valentine’s Day festivities continue to enamour us all – well, at least a good percentage of us. The truth is, we often cannot see through the colourful façade produced by what is now an overly-commercial celebration of love and understand that not everyone is so fortunate, and not only for one day a year. Social isolation and loneliness are genuine and prominent challenges to the mind that sometimes can have irreversible effects if left unaddressed for several years or more. It’s ironic that so many of us take marriage and relationships for granted while others simply long for the gentlest of touches and sincerest of affections. Today, let us explore the subject in greater detail, putting the frivolities of Valentine’s Day fad aside to focus on what matters most.

Understanding Social Isolation

Social isolation and loneliness emerge as a combination of emotional perspective and reality. Our fear, sadness and even anger can control the way it shapes and steers an individual’s mental outlook. Someone suffering from the condition may be led to believe that they have less self-worth or less relevance in a group, sometimes through no fault of others and merely as a by-product of decision-making and planning. This can happen due to the way a situation is presented to them, such as being left out of an important conversation or a decision being made without their active involvement.

Individuals struggling with social isolation long for equality and a sense of belonging while they experience having been passed over for others just for being themselves in the best way, they know possible. This can lead to frustration, depression, and the onset of other mental health issues that could detract from their quality of life further.

The process of social isolation causes issues not only when facing the reality of others who have found love and affection but also in career and friendship-focused areas. It can lead to the development of a negative bias or problematic emotions, much to the dismay of the individual doing everything possible to remain in control. The repercussions can be amplified by pre-existing issues such as anxiety or depression. For example, a process as simple as being the last pick for a game of baseball on multiple occasions as a child could lead to a reduced interest in playing sports or getting involved in group activities, especially if further influenced by other more serious moments of feeling “left out.” The same principle applies to employment. Let us say that you were in the running for a higher-ranking position based on your experience and familiarity within your field as well as performance. However, a brand-new hire with much less experience but also a less introverted presence strolls in and wows the team with their energy. There might be instances when your employer simply follows their instinct or doesn’t mean any form of disrespect, but the individual feeling left out or overlooked likely will not be able to treat these factors as the truth.

Such experiences may prompt many people to choosing remote commuting, self-employment or travel – coping mechanisms to help them find solace and self-understanding in a world where others are unable to see the way we do. These can be highly beneficial, healthy long-term fixes, but only as long as you are able to make new connections with others. Otherwise, you may only feel more alone in an isolated space. Approach these solutions with caution.

This is Not a Black-and-White Issue

With social isolation and loneliness, it may seem as if you’re trying to carefully formulate and present your side of the story to a minimalist brick wall. Of course, this might not mean that those on the outside intend to make the isolated individual feel like an outcast; it is often merely a by-product of the way the modern world works. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and nor should there be. Everyone is unique.

What You Can Do

The most critical step is not to take things personally, even if others intend otherwise. It helps to drown out the noise of the modern world and look within yourself, identifying what makes you unique and using it to your advantage. While putting yourself first may sound like a selfish endeavour, it may be necessary to re-establish your self-worth and contentment while keeping your uncertainties in check – after all, the last thing you want to feel is alone or irrelevant. The true art of finding solace is to make peace with yourself; only then you can reach out to others, build healthy connections and make healthy decisions.

As we celebrate love and all it represents, don’t forget to love yourself first. There is nothing wrong with being unique. Being comfortable in your own skin with a sense of belonging is what matters most – only then you can build lasting, fruitful relationships, romantic or otherwise. This way, the love you do find will be pure and unbiased, which can open the doors to a life you may have never thought possible before. If you need help with discovering your inner potential and value even when it seems that others cannot see them, reach out to a friendly, patient and understanding therapist. We are here to help and would love to learn more about you.