In January 2016, someone shared their problems with me and while it was not clear to them at first, this process of openness and self-reflection helped them realise that life was worth living. The more we spoke, the more he realised that we should never allow failure to push us around; to make us give up.
Life was never meant to be easy. It was also never meant to be lived alone.
Sometimes we keep our problems from people because we don’t believe they care enough about us. We lose the opportunity to create a much deeper relationship with those who might know or understand what we are going through.
Herman Melville once said, “We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
Yet in our culture now, there is a lot more social isolationism than was the case in the past. While new technologies have helped us connect with people in distant lands, it seems that people are lonelier than ever before.
There are those who do not have faith in people because getting to know someone involves an element of risk.
What if they reject you?
What if they hurt you?
What if they betray you?
As such, some people are choosing to believe – either consciously or subconsciously – that forming a connection with someone and sharing their life story with them is not worth the risk.
Danger of Loneliness and Social Isolationism
The Oxford online dictionary defines a companion as “A person who shares the experiences of another, especially when these are unpleasant or unwelcome.”
According to the American Psychological Association, Social Psychologist Shelly Turkle, PhD., says in her book ‘Alone Together’ that social media relationships “…can provide the ILLUSION of companionship without the demands of friendship, without the demands of intimacy.”
In the end, everybody ultimately needs someone. There has to be a real connection, though, not just a number of social media followers. A captain needs a co-captain. A president needs a vice president. Spouses need each other. This is why many people are falling into the trap of loneliness. They find themselves feeling all alone, like no one in the world cares about them. As such, they retreat deeper and deeper into the depths of loneliness and depression.
Perhaps we are so bogged down in our own lives that we fail to look up and see what others are going through. Perhaps, at other times, we fail to see that the conversation we are postponing at a particular moment could be pivotal to another’s life. It happens ALL THE TIME.
You see it whenever someone commits suicide, the family and friends are always left asking the same questions:
“Is there something I could have done to prevent this?”
“Maybe I could have spent a little more time with them.”
“Perhaps I should have listened more instead of talking all the time.”
“How did I miss the signs?”
“Why didn’t they come to me for help?”
Great friends make a great support system. Notice, for example, how many celebrities fail in their careers or turn to drug and alcohol abuse because no one helps them cope with their fame.
Without taking a leap of faith, you never know whether a person has your best interests at heart. There are very amazing people out there. Watching the news, you might feel like everyone only cares about themselves. Stories about jealousy, murder, theft, and violence are pervasive in our news media. Yet, if you look beyond this, the beauty of the human race continues to shine through.
One crazy example I noticed was that despite robbers pretending there has been a road accident so you can pull over to help and get carjacked, people continue falling for it because we all desire to help others.
Are You Someone People Can Have Faith In?
The people in your support system should have the following characteristics:
- They are great listeners.
- They care about you.
- They try to see things through your perspective.
- They are there when you call.
- They are eager to see you prevail over any problems.
- They are people you can trust to keep your secrets.
Having such a committed group of people in your corner will help you overcome whatever circumstances life throws at you. Nevertheless, you can’t focus on only what you get from the relationship. This is why networking doesn’t work for some business professionals. They care so much about what they are going to get from a partnership that they forget about what they are bringing to the table. You want to have someone you can lean on. However, are you the type of person that other people can lean on?
The R U OK? Movement says that in order to become someone that other people can turn to when they have problems, you have to go beyond the answer, “I am fine.” Once you start taking this approach, you start becoming a source of support. You also get to grow because you start developing a perspective of what is important in your own life. The next time you have a problem, guess who will be eager to help you get through it?
With all this in mind, it is time to start seeing the world through the prism that people are inherently good and they are ready to help you, especially if you ask for it. Being alone is a choice. Have faith in people and reach out. They will respond positively to you. Though some people might reject you or dismiss your problems, you will eventually find someone who sticks closer than a brother does. They will do their best to help you get to the end of your journey.
As an old Tibetan proverb says, “As I helped him up the hill, lo, I found myself at the top.”