Isolation – without relation to other people or things; separately.
Going through this unprecedented pandemic we are asked to Isolate ourselves, to social distance and to be quarantined. For many of us this is not new news, or a new state of living and being!
The stats say many of us live in Isolation because of our mental, physical and emotional state, or all of the above put together. More people suffer from the effects of traumatic events and complex chronic pain then combining all the people who suffer from diabetes, cancer and heart disease put together. What we know and what I’ve learned after working 20 years with chronic pain and trauma is, that we tend to Isolate ourselves when we suffer. We can be surrounded by many people and family but feel completely alone with our pain and suffering as some of our wounds are not visible. A pandemic just increases the volume on the state and hence symptoms are increased also.
Isolation is really a reflection of a state of “FREEZE” that happens in our brain, nervous system and body, essentially we are overwhelmed and feel:
- conservation of energy is paramount
- shut down
- thoughts about death
- suicidal ideation (when extreme)
- not in control
When patients come to me and many are in this state, even the strongest ones break down after a while as it takes so much energy and innate resources to keep this up to the point where we burn out.
One of the first things I ask patients to do and I will ask you especially through this difficult time, is to Insulate yourself. What does that mean?
Insulation is based on a premise of self preservation, self care and nourishing yourself until you are full as it takes innate resources to change, it takes energy to change states. Yes a therapist can give you an experience of change, where you feel relieved and your sense of well – being improves, even the symptoms might improve and it can be a wow; but there is a catch. It is just an experience and for all who are in that chronic state you need more than an experience that can provide relief and hope, you need resources and a place to start practicing the tools of change that you can facilitate. You are the healer after all.
You might say; “well I know all of that, I know that i need to do that for myself and I know that i need to eat better, exercise more and meditate…so how do I make that happen?”
My answer is we all know what to do for ourselves that make us feel better, feel cared for and nourished but we are using a “Default operating system” and we need to use another consistently to move into action. I ask people to pose a question every time you are making a choice and an action, habitually until its second nature and that question is….
“What i am about to do now, this person that i am about to interact with, this place that i am about to go to, this food that i am about to eat now, is it going to take away from me? , or replenish me? Because I need to be replenished right now as much as possible!
Well some of you might say; ” sometimes we don’t have a choice we have to do this thing, we have to see this person, we have to go to this place that will take away from me so then what?”
My answer is : ” Can you still control the time? can you control the environment that you are in? can you control your body?, can you control your energy? can you be still in control? of course you can. That’s how you start to exercise the muscle of control! Those that are in an overwhelmed Freeze state feel that way because they are out of control and feel like they have no control.
Another thing I ask is, if you can’t do that for yourself, then why you are not allowing? why you not allowing self care, self nourishment and to exercise control? There are gold nuggets in these answers.
What will happen if you fill yourself up, Insulate yourself with self care, self love and a commitment to self? What will happen if you drop the importance on others and what’s going to happen and just focus on you and what’s important? What if you exercise control always?
So through this pandemic please don’t Isolate but rather Insulate.
You can reach me at [email protected] if you have other questions, or comments.
Stay safe .