Last week I wrote about how easy it is for caregivers to become socially isolated, and discontinue activities they used to enjoy, without even realizing it’s happening. I suggested ways to become aware that’s happened, and take steps to “get back out there” and do the things that make them feel happy and fulfilled.
But…what if hiding from the world is secretly what you want? That’s worth a look as well.
My recommendation if you are a caregiver is that you do a self-check, and Step 1 is to raise your self-awareness in the upcoming weeks. Notice if you are avoiding opportunities to socialize, or depriving yourself of any activities you enjoy that require going out of the house.
If the answer is “yes” then Step 2 is to ask yourself if you’re doing that because you truly enjoy keeping to yourself, and that’s how you’ve always been…or whether you’re someone who needs more social interaction.
There’s nothing wrong with being an inner-focused, quiet person who prefers a lot of solitude. If that’s what makes you truly happy, don’t change a thing! But if that’s not what you actually enjoy, you might want to consider a course correction to bring more fun and social interaction back in.
Two Ways To Tell If You’re Sabotaging Activities You Need
If you ever catch yourself thinking, “I’m glad I have an excuse not to go out to dinner with my friends tonight…I just don’t have the energy!” …it may be that you really don’t have the energy, or you may be deliberately isolating yourself. You made plans to do something, so chances are you would normally enjoy that, right?
So why are you bailing out at the last minute?
Another clue is if you do go out to do something for yourself, but then any little thing can make you feel stressed, overwhelmed or discouraged, and send you running back to the “safe haven” of home.
Many times a pattern of isolation is an indication of subtle fears – fear of failure, of the unknown, of feeling awkward, or seeming less successful or accomplished than others.
If you realize you’re isolating yourself out of fear, look for the belief behind the fear. It could be “I’m not enough,” or “No one cares about me,” or “I’m not safe.”
Once you uncover a belief that’s keeping you hiding, get a piece of paper and WRITE your answers to the following:
- Assume that the belief is NOT based on fact, but on conclusions you drew following events in your past – usually conclusions made when you were hurt or upset. It’s worth asking: What were those events? What “evidence” have you gathered over time to keep the belief in place?
- Poke holes in the belief by listing all the examples you can think of that indicate it’s not
- Identify what belief would be the exact opposite of that belief.
- Brainstorm new activities you might start doing with some of your time if you knew this opposite belief were true.
- Make a plan to expand your range of activities to include at least 3 of those new activities each week.
- Notice any thoughts that trigger the old belief as you engage in those new activities.
- Consciously choose different thoughts that support the opposite belief you’ve identified.
As much as possible in your newly fuller life, keep a record of what new things you do, what thoughts you notice, how you counter those thoughts, and how you see over time that your old belief is losing its power to keep you isolated.
p.s. If you’re thinking you’d like some support in getting back to having a bigger life again, call me at (201) 489-6720 to find out what options and resources are available to help you accomplish that – because you deserve a life you love!