Unfortunately, we live in a world where we have to experience emotional pain and heartache. People let us down. Marriages fall apart. Children disappoint us. Bosses berate us. Family abandons us. Friends forget about us.
The downsides to these problems lead us to feeling like we aren’t good enough. We begin to feel upset, and worthless. We feel as though nobody cares. In short, we feel isolated. When we start feeling isolated, we react negatively, in ways like:
- Lashing out at friends and family
- Avoiding conflict and confrontation
- Constantly worrying about every conversation we have with others
- Desperately trying to get other people’s approval, many times in incredibly unhealthy ways
Maybe it plays out for you like this: your boss gets upset with you for something you did wrong at work. Sure, it was probably a simple mistake, and maybe they didn’t even make that big of a deal about it. But now you’re starting to feel nervous, maybe wondering if you’re at risk of getting fired. So now you’re working even harder trying to fix the situation, but you feel like you’re living under a microscope – like the boss is just waiting for you to mess up again. And so the whole time you’re working your butt off to try to make the situation better but you end up making even more mistakes because you’re so nervous.
Then, you go home at the end of another stressful day on the job to find the kids running around like savages. The house is a mess. Homework isn’t done. There are about 10 or 15 different things you look around and see that your spouse could have done when they got home, but now you’ve got to do all that work too. Time for dinner. Kids need baths. Oh look, there’s a pile of laundry that’s overflowing the hamper. When is all of this going to stop.
On top of that, something happened with your better half today. Who knows, maybe they had a crappy day at work too. Whatever is going on, now they’re being short and snippy with you too. You try to have a conversation and everything is met with either being ignored or some kind of hateful response. So at the end of another long, exhausting, frustrating day, you crawl into bed to try to get some sleep. But before you know it, your alarm is screaming in your ear. Time to get up. Time to do it all over again today.
All this endless cycle does is keep us feeling stuck. We’re not moving forward. All we’re doing is running in place, spending day after day after frustrating day trying to keep everything together. Unfortunately, all this does is continue to push us farther and farther away from other people to the point we’re so isolated we either look completely unapproachable, or nobody even has any idea of what’s happening with us.
The unfortunate reality is that at some point, probably everybody has gone through this. The good news is that you’re not alone. The bad news is that if you ask most people, they have no idea how in the world to make it any better because they’re stuck running in place themselves.
Moms everywhere feel like they’re drowning in responsibilities. Dads feel like they don’t have any respect at home. Employees feel unfulfilled by their draining jobs and families feel like there’s so much dysfunction they don’t know how to even have a freaking meal together in peace.
It’s true that this isolation keeps people from experiencing the true peace and joy that as Christians we’re promised. However, if we can learn how to begin working toward finding that freedom, we can truly find contentment and get back to enjoying life.
Keep reading for 3 tips so you can start finding peace today.
If you continue living in isolation, you’re going to keep feeling alone
The biggest downside of not overcoming these feelings of isolation is that you’re only going to continue going down this negative cycle of being alone. You’re going to feel like the crap just keeps piling up and there’s no real hope for digging your way out. You’re going to keep having the fights, arguments and excruciatingly painful silence at the end of another long day of disappointment.
Living this way is exhausting. Nothing ever moves forward. It only keeps pulling you back. Inside, you’re probably screaming for somebody, anybody to step in and help. On the outside, you’re just doing everything you can to hold it all together.
But thank God you don’t have to keep living alone in this cage of isolation
Although you’re struggling in this sucky, lonely pit of despair, you have the potential to really find pace, contentment and joy again. When we choose to do this, we realize we’re worth a heck of a lot more than the crap we’ve been living in.
3 Ways to Achieve this Healing and Wholeness
The key to achieving contentment is to put a plan into place to protect yourself from the negative feelings you’re experiencing. Making these changes isn’t as hard as you think if you’re willing to change your way of thinking.
It’s important to truly understand these feelings so that you can move forward in a healthy way.
1. You’re struggling to forgive
Forgiveness is hard. Countless examples in Scripture talk about the importance of forgiving others. And of course, we understand Christ’s ultimate act of forgiveness on the Cross for our sins.
But how often are you truly practicing forgiveness? Are you truly making the conscious decision to move past the negative emotions and bitterness you’re holding toward another person and lay them down? Or are you hoping that they’ll somehow get the message of your anger and come to you with an apology?
Maybe they already have apologized and you just can’t find it in your heart to allow yourself to forgive them. You feel angry, alone and justified in your emotions.
The solution: Understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re saying it’s okay and that they can hurt you again.
Remember in elementary school how somebody would do something to us and then the teacher would make them apologize? It would go something like this:
Teacher (obviously oblivious): “You need to apologize for what you’ve done.”
Mean, hateful, awful kid (obviously not really caring): “Sorry.”
You (obviously not over it): “It’s okay.”
Here’s the deal, though. It wasn’t okay 25 years ago when you were being picked on during recess, and it’s not okay what’s happening to you now.
We’re conditioned to think that when someone apologizes, we’re just supposed to say “It’s okay,” even though it’s not. And so as a result, we think forgiving somebody means that we just have to suck it up and tell them what they’ve done is okay, and it’s okay for them to do it again. It’s NOT. Forgiving someone means simply saying that you’re no longer going to cause you to hold bitterness, resentment and possibly hatred against them. It means you’re choosing to free yourself.
If, after you forgive them, they choose to continue acting the way they’re acting and trying to hurt you, that’s on them. But the idea after you forgive them isn’t to just get over it and move on, rather, to give yourself freedom and then not allow them to hurt you again.
Which brings us to our second point:
2. You’re not sure how to put up appropriate boundaries.
Establishing healthy boundaries is a therapeutic term that’s thrown around a lot, yet few people understand how to really do it with success. Boundaries can be hard.
Have you ever tried putting up a boundary with someone? What was the result? I can guarantee you that if the relationship was unhealthy and you tried to establish those boundaries, the unhealthy person tried their hardest to push against them.
The fastest way to tick off a dysfunctional family member is to put a boundary in place, telling them you have no desire to continue in a negative relationship the way it’s been happening. They may yell, throw a fit, bait you to get into a fight with them, or try to make you feel guilty, saying things like “But we’re family. You needme,”
The solution: Keep the boundaries in place. They’re there for a reason.
Dysfunctional people like to fight against boundaries. It’s what they do. However, it’s up to you to hold them in place. That may mean ignoring phone calls and texts. It could mean no longer going around that person when it can be avoided. It may mean choosing not to engage with them in their behavior when they’re acting out or trying to press your buttons.
Believe me, it’s easier said than done. You may feel bad because “you’re the only person they have,” or “there’s nobody else who can help them,”. It’s not your job to help them if it’s constantly causing you to struggling with that anger, bitterness and resentment. It’s your job to protect yourself.
3. You’re feeling alone and isolated.
When something bad happens to us, it’s human nature to retreat and try to get away from the situation. Sometimes, this means putting up walls to keep people out. Sometimes it means literally retreating and not talking to anyone for days at a time.
And the longer we do it, the easier it gets to isolate ourselves. When we avoid others, and avoid conflict, we’re keeping ourselves out of relationships with other people – and it only hurts us. Sure, there are people who are introverted and only need a handful of relationships. On the other hand, the extroverts of the world need a lot of relationships. No matter which end of the spectrum you fall on, each of us were created to live in relationship with one another. Keeping ourselves out of those healthy relationships only allows Satan to attack our minds by constantly telling us we’re not good enough.
The solution: Find healthy and safe ways to be with others, even if you don’t always feel like it.
The old saying is true, “misery loves company.” If you’re struggling with feelings of depression and anxiety, being alone only compounds those feelings. It may be difficult to go be with people when you’re hurting, but if you can find just one friend who you trust to call and spend an afternoon with, or go out to lunch, you’ll find yourself starting to feel better.
Each of us were created to be in relationships with other people. These relationships help us to navigate those feelings of not being good enough, not being worthy of finding hope, and getting through stressful situations.
You’ve got some work to do.
Getting to the point of finding freedom is a difficult and challenging task. But achieving that hope can be liberating when you’re stuck in those negative emotions. You absolutely can find that freedom and healing for yourself.
If you’re having trouble doing it on your own, give us a shout and let us walk through it with you. At Revive Christian Counseling, we’re here to walk through it with you every step of the way.
Struggling to find freedom?
Let’s work together to get back on track. Call us, schedule an appointment online, or message us on Facebook to get started. It’s time to get your life back.