Some see independence as being able to do everything on their own without needing anyone. Independence is good, isolation is not. You need others. I know that from experience and have learned that you can’t do it all on your own. We are meant to be in community with other people, sharing our lives in order to build each other up. Letting them into your life, letting them truly know you, letting them be a part of your journey. Isolation may feel safe, but it is the most dangerous enemy to fulfillment.
Why do we isolate?
Shame – We have all made mistakes in the past. We’ve said and done some very regretable things that are long forgotten but it’s the shame that lingers. It stays with us and eats at us. It tells us we are flawed, that we can’t be loved or even liked. Shame reminds us that we messed up and are now worthless. And when we feel like we have no value, we isolate.
Fear – We may not even recognize how fear shapes our actions. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of getting hurt. These all point us to isolation. We avoid getting close to others and avoid building strong relationships because we are afaid that something bad might happen. We have experienced something in the past that has been built up in our mind to the point where it affects our actions and keeps us from moving forward.
Strength in Weakness
Isolation feels safe to us. It makes us feel stronger. It makes us feel like nothing can hurt us but that is only because we have already been hurt. Our pride is inflated to the point that we determine that we don’t need anyone or anything. “I’m big and strong and can do it all on my own”. Unfortunately this message in our head is taking us further and further away from the relationships we need to actually heal the pain. It’s only when we open up to others, show vulnerability, and let them know our true selves that we find strength. Showing our weaknesses isn’t the issue, keeping them a secret is. Years of isolation keeps us in a weakened state, our vulnerability muscle atrophied and withered.
Vulnerability Work Out
I’m sure you’ve seen the memes about “Don’t skip leg day” or “Every day is upper body day”. There’s a photo of a guy with huge arms and bulging chest but his legs look thin and scrawny. That’s exactly how we look when we are isolated from others. Our vulnerability muscle hasn’t been worked out enough and it has shrunk down and doesn’t fit proportionally to the rest of our emotional body. The only way to build it back up is a strict workout regimen. How do you do that? Be vulnerable. Start using that muscle again. Find someone you can trust and share something with them. You don’t have to break down and unload everything on them all at once. Just share one thing.
July 4th is a month away and America will be celebrating its independance. Independance doesn’t mean that you have to do everything on your own. Countries (and people) are independant but cannot function well if isolated. We have the ability to manage ourselves, determine our direction, and achieve success but we can’t do that all on our own. We need other perspectives of our own lives to learn from. We have to be connected to grow and to flourish.
End the isolation and seek out someone to connect with this week. Share something you’ve learned about yourself recently.