Recognizing and Combating Isolation

Are you isolated from others?


Years ago a television commercial showed us a small child asking his father what he made per hour in wages at his job. When the father asked why his son wanted to know, the boy told him he wanted to buy an hour of his time. The father was so absorbed in work that he isolated himself from his family and was no longer capable of noticing their needs. The commercial ended in a touching manner with father and son hugging each other, hinting at an improved relationship in the future.

Isolation is one of the great natural enemies of the writer, artist or entrepreneur, and it is among the main causes of small business failure. There are two forms of isolation that can affect a writer or anyone working from home. The first is isolation from one’s self, typified by self-absorption with work to the exclusion of all other aspects of life. It destroys the balance between personal and professional concerns. Workaholics suffer from this form of isolation. They might not know their child has won an award in the science fair, or that a neighbor earned a promotion at work. Their only concern is business. They are not necessarily isolated from other people, but rather from their own feelings and emotions. They might actually believe they have many friends, but all their relationships are casual because their friendships never extend beyond work.

The second form of isolation is one of not being around enough people. Writers, artists and others who work from home frequently suffer from seclusion, and the ranks of this group grow daily. Their only contact with other adults is online or through their customers, which can be cold, repetitive and impersonal. You might be missing some of the very things you decided to get away from by working at home, such as hallway gossip. Abandoning the routines of working for someone else might also put you on a different schedule than others operate on. It may be easier to shop for groceries at 2:00 PM than 6:00 PM, but you only see a third of the people you saw when you shopped after work.

Interaction with others is a fundamental human need and vital to your physical and mental health. Contact with people is as important as food and water. Working at home or in an obsessive manner can limit your intellectual and emotional stimulation to unhealthy levels. This adversely affects all other areas of your life, including your physical well being, your relationships with family and friends, and your career.

Isolation attacks suddenly but not without warning. The key to combating your seclusion is to have an awareness of its forms. This allows you the opportunity to prevent it from taking hold. The good news is that isolation is one malady through which attacking its symptoms can mean a cure.


Books about isolation and loneliness from Amazon.com

The look of isolation

Have you isolated yourself from others?
Have you isolated yourself from others?
Workaholics are unable to take themselves away from their work, even when they should
Workaholics are unable to take themselves away from their work, even when they should
Are you bored or, even worse, boring?
Are you bored or, even worse, boring?
Putting yourself in the midst of other people can combat isolation
Putting yourself in the midst of other people can combat isolation
Engage in a new hobby to keep your mind focused on things other than work
Engage in a new hobby to keep your mind focused on things other than work
Reaching out to someone is a victory against isolation
Reaching out to someone is a victory against isolation

Recognizing and combating isolation


Warning signs of isolation from one’s self include but are not limited to the following:

Being a workaholic. You might feel you must work all day to survive the challenge of new competition or to prepare for your retirement. Weekends or holidays are a nuisance. You lose the balance that allows you to enjoy the personal aspects of your lives as well as the professional. What to do: reach out to your spouse, a parent or a neighbor and make them your ally. Arrange activities with them totally unrelated to work that require your full attention. Make a goal to always have at least one event scheduled with another person at all times that has nothing to do with work. Engage in activities with several people to prevent an emotional overreliance on a single individual.

Dealing with adversity alone. In times of trouble, you may feel there is no one you can depend on to help you cope with problems. Perhaps your only friends are business acquaintances, and you are lacking a strong support network to help you deal with personal issues. What to do: recognize that people want to help you face your problems, but you have probably shut them out. Reach out and connect with family and friends before problems occur. Borrow a rake from a neighbor or ask for advice—you will discover people are eager to be of service. When trouble strikes ask the help of a spouse or friend; make use of that help and acknowledge their efforts. This allows you to connect with others and make them your allies. It will demonstrate to others that you are willing to accept their help when you need it.

Making mistakes. You may be so absorbed in work that you have lost your sharpness. You no longer have the capacity to walk away from a problem and return to it with a fresh perspective. Your business decisions might be rational but removed from your core values or beliefs that encompass personal issues. What to do: address problems in the morning instead of working through them late into the night. Restful sleep will give you a fresh perspective. Create regular diversions to allow your mind to focus on other things. Study relaxation techniques such as yoga or deep breathing exercises.

Warning signs of isolation from others can encompass any of the symptoms listed above, but also include:

Boredom. You might find yourself bored all the time or, equally troubling, that you are boring to others. The boredom you feel might be even more dangerous if your traditional stimulation (books, newspapers, television, the Internet, etc.) no longer catches your attention. What to do: get out of the house; do something interesting and place yourself in new situations. (Running errands or paying bills does not qualify and likely will contribute to your boredom.) Add new twists to familiar activities, such as reading books in a genre you’ve never considered. Place yourself in a situation that forces you to think or emote. Take a class and learn something new, keep a journal or write poetry.

Loneliness. When you work outside the home, you usually have many casual friends or acquaintances. Working from home or in a solitary profession, there is no one to go to lunch with or to stop by your desk with a joke or story. Loneliness can also take the form of overreliance on an individual or group to meet your social needs. What to do: ask a partner or friend to call during the day to see how you are. In the evening, make certain to interact as a couple with your spouse or significant other, at least for awhile. Go where other people are; attend sidewalk sales or city commission meetings. Attend your children’s play groups and converse with other parents. Get to know the neighbors, schedule picnics or barbeques, and espouse local causes that unite others in the service of the community.

Feelings of worthlessness. When you are isolated, you have to pat yourself on the back, motivate and encourage yourself. If you do not encourage yourself sufficiently, you will begin to feel like a failure. What to do: show respect for yourself. Remind yourself of your accomplishments and be proud of what you have overcome. Explore your creativity. Draw, write poetry, sing or keep a journal. Acknowledge your talents and show your work to family and friends if you’re comfortable doing so. Connect with your values and core beliefs. Remind yourself of what is important to you and how you are living in accordance with your beliefs. Plan the future you wish for yourself; ask where you want to be in ten years and determine how you will get there.


Maintain the balance


The common thread in these suggestions includes maintaining an appropriate balance in life. You must continually reach out and interact with others to blend your personal and your professional life into a cohesive whole. You will remain isolated if your relationships are all professional or online friendships. You must have genuine, face to face interactions with others to function as a wholly human being. The good news is that in the battle against isolation, there are partial victories—combating your seclusion isn’t an all or nothing scenario. Anything you do to connect with other people will significantly improve the balance between your personal and professional affairs. It can begin at any time, and all it takes is a little effort to reach out to others.


Take the poll. Where do you stand?

Does your work ever make you feel isolated from other people?

  • Never, I'm around people all the time
  • Occasionally, but my personal life makes up for it
  • Sometimes my work makes me feel isolated
  • I frequently feel secluded from others
See results without voting

Comments or opinions about this article and isolation are welcomed 35 comments

msorensson profile image

msorensson 6 years ago

It is beautiful the way you expressed it Mike.

Yes, we all suffer this from time to time and it is good at times to collect ourselves and our thoughts, but we are here to use our unique talents and skills for the upliftment of our fellowmen and that is something we need to remind ourselves.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

msorensson, thanks for your beautiful response. You are correct that in the sense that we are using our abilities in support of each other, we have bridged that chasm of isolation and connected with others.

Thanks again.

Mike


samboiam profile image

samboiam 6 years ago from Texas

I battle with feelings of loneliness and isolation quite often. Thanks for sharing this with us.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Samboiam, thanks for your comments. I also struggle with isolation while drawing and painting or writing. It is important that we continue to connect with people, and I hope you will reach out to family and friends as often as you can. Thanks again for reading.

Mike


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Great hub Mike! Certain professions (artists and the like) are definitely more prone to isolation than others. You offered some really good advice here. Rating this useful!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Peggy, thanks for your comments. Artists and writers are prone to feelings of isolation, which is almost ironic since their very work consists of finding ways to connect with people. I appreciate your kind words and rating.

Thanks again.

Mike


coffeesnob 6 years ago

Mike this is an awesome hub. I like how you laid out the warning signs and then gave a practical suggestion to help resolve each one. You know sometimes it's just me and my lap top and we head to Panera Bread Co. for coffee and socialization. I do a lot with others though. My hubby and I like doing things at our house like open mic nights and game nights and usually end up with a crowd. But some days I just want to be alone and write and I feel I must work while the thoughts are there. So to keep from being locked up in my study all the time I take the ol' lap top and go. I almost always run into folks and I almost always get pretty good character profiles while out too. Great advice and insight here...

Abundant blessings

CS


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Coffeesnob, thanks for reading and for offering your comments. People who work online are particularly susceptible to feelings of isolation, but it sounds as if you have things well under control. It is, of course, natural to want or need to get away for awhile, but we have to come back and reconnect. Overall, it sounds as if your social needs are well met.

Thanks again, I am always appreciative of your insights.

Mike


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Since I retired early because of disabilities, I often feel isolated. HP allows me to interact with others!


Arthur Windermere profile image

Arthur Windermere 6 years ago

Very good, Mike! I'm a lone wolf by nature. I wanted to join the Carthusians when I was a Catholic, but a Benedictine talked me out of it. I used to think contact with others would interfere with my creativity/spiritual progress/intellectual growth, but it only does so in excess. I think you're right; most people, except a few odd hermits, really need other people.

I live where I have neither friends nor family. And since I've been working on my thesis, I don't even attend classes. So I'm alone all the time. I never get bored, but I'm intimately acquainted with loneliness and dealing with adversity alone. The internet is great for keeping in touch, but it's almost more tantalizing than satisfying, never quite quenching the thirst. Curiously enough, I've always found working, usually on a creative project, to be the most effective remedy to loneliness. Calling Mom helps too. hehe

Rated up, useful, and AWESOME.


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

Its nice you wrote this - A lot of people go through it. I isolate myself during tough times, even though people try to get me to go out and visit places. I just can't be bothered. At such times one feels comfortable in their own little bubble.

If one is isolated for too long the effects can be damaging. I'm positive this Hub will help a lot of people.

I found it useful.

Best Wishes


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Habee, thanks for reading. HP offsets the isolation for me somewhat, as well. When drawing and painting is going well for me I get caught up in what I'm doing and don't feel the isolation, but when it is not, I feel extremely secluded. It is a blessing that HP was here to be found--for all of us.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Arthur, thanks for reading and offering your insights. I do believe there are folks that can prosper in a mostly solitary environment, as seems to be the case for you these days. As a said in response to Habee's comments, when my artwork is going well, I don't feel the effects of isolation all that much, either. While I don't really get bored, however, I do find myself wanting to be around other people, and I am sure that is in response to the isolation. While I like what the Internet offers in terms of communication and even a sense of community, it is not quite the same and doesn't satisfy my need for people. I am convinced our need for people is both real and fundamental.

Well, thanks again for your comments, I greatly appreciate them.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Elena, thanks for your comments. In a lot of ways I am like you--I tend to isolate myself when dealing with difficult circumstances. I have gotten better at reaching out to others when I need help, but it still is not my natural inclination.

I hoped that this hub might have some meaning on the Internet, just because so many writers deal with isolation on a daily basis. I am a firm believer in our need for contact with other humans, and I am aware of how often writers deprive themselves of this basic need to serve their craft. Writing is so time consuming and, if nothing else, hopefully everyone can remind themselves to reach out just a tiny bit more.

Thanks again for reading.

Mike


Vicki Parker 6 years ago

GREAT Hub. I never realized an inability to be creative could be the result of isolation from others. I have wondered at times why I could not be creative when I had plenty of time to be that way. Thanks for the eye-opener.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Vicki, thanks for reading. While many people feel they must create in solitude, I am of the impression we cannot work in a vacuum. Not only are we healthier when in the company of others, we are inspired by others, as well. In my mind, there definitely is a correlation between creativity and a healthy lifestyle that includes the presence of others.

I appreciate your reading very much, thank you for stopping by.

Mike


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Excellent hub, I am guilty yes, the shift of the economic mode of production from manula to high tech form -- online jobs etc -- computer age -- make people work from home -- devoid of soicalization thus making us unhealthy, and the funny thing is we are aware of it, but can do less.

Your hub Mike is an eye opener, with no boyfriend, little friends and sleeping in front of computer, but mind you, I also do dancing lesson now hehe and I watched Shrek yeterday plus today I will be at my friends house we will cook together see, what your hub can do, hehe, smile for me

Thnaks to you Mike, excellent hub. Maita


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Maita, you're correct that we live in a world that is making us more and more isolated all the time. I'm glad to hear you are getting out, spending some time with friends and taking care of yourself (I can't believe you don't have a boyfriend!). Dancing lessons should be fun--I'm taking yoga classes and water aerobics. We all have to keep ourselves out in the world and making sure we interact with others.

Hope you had a great weekend.

Mike


Mekenzie profile image

Mekenzie 6 years ago from Michigan

Mike, Timely Hub as I am inclined to withdraw from the world and create my own right now ... Periods of life are like that I think ... But it is important to NOT stay in that mode and to reach out and connect. Great Writing as always my friend!

Mekenzie


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Mekenzie, nice to find you here. I withdraw from the world too often, and have to consciously guard against disappearing off the face of the planet. Writers and artists are especially vulnerable to isolation, I think, but with more and more work performed at home and online, we are in even more danger of isolating ourselves.

I am a firm believer in connecting with others, even though I am a born introvert. I believe we need other people to be healthy. This article was a warning to myself as much as advice for others.....

Well, I hope everything is going well for you these days, and (as always) I'm happy to find your comments here.

Take care.

Mike


BloodAndRoses 6 years ago

wow, Mike, you shared a lot of excellent points. sometimes we can be isolated and not know it, or be isolated while surrounded by tons of people. i like the way you did your amazon ads too.

i agree, we all (even us loners) need human contact. i can feel really blah sometimes but a quick immersion into 'the people pool' sets me right again. i feel all rejuvenated! thanks for this useful hub! rating it accordingly.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hi, "Blood," thanks for reading. I was inspired to write this because I was feeling isolated myself and it was started to really weigh on me. I felt certain others who write or work online had to feel the same way. It is an ongoing issue with me. I'm glad you found something helpful in it, and I appreciate your comments. Thanks again.

Mike


Joy56 profile image

Joy56 6 years ago

thought provoking and so well researched.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Joy, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your taking the time to read my hub. Take care.

Mike


misstcousins 6 years ago from Kings Lynn, Norfolk, UK

Thank you for this hub, but it's not just work that chains people to their desks all day! I've been very concerned by a few friends of mine who are parents and spend all day online chatting to friends they've never met or playing online games and I've seen their children pratically begging for their time and attention and it's really sad!

Hope to read more hubs from you soon!

Tina


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

misstcousins, thanks for your comments. You are absolutely correct in pointing out that it is more than just work that isolates us from others. The Internet has become a substitute friend, family, lover and playmate and it is sad to see. It is a no-strings attached way to interact, and it is tragic that so many people find it preferable to real interaction.

Thanks again for your comments, misstcousins. They are greatly appreciated.

Mike


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

Mike- This was interesting and I think in many cases very true, especially for writers. I enjoy the occasional foray into isolation because I so rarely have quiet. Home is solitude; it's free of the noise of 14 year olds, eye rolling, and hormones.......... it is quite frankly a place of peace.

I agree that the internet and it's possibility for addiction is a problem for many people. I've been roaming around Hubpages for hours today, and yet I can tell you with all honesty.............. the computer and phone will be powered off tomorrow. The cyber world can be fun, but it's no substitute for real life and living. Really taking the time to live is the most important thing of all........... I believe it's the reason we were born to begin with!

Great hub, thanks for this..........

Kaie


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Kaie, thanks for reading. It sounds like you have found a correct balance between your quiet time and your interactions with others, and frankly it's good that you have a way to offer yourself some peace and quiet. I suspect isolation is not a problem for you.

There are certainly people without your healthy outlook who lock themselves into a pattern of online work, friendships or romances that crowd out real life. These are the folks that can succumb to isolation and sometimes not even know it. I found myself frequently isolating myself as I write, draw and paint--all solitary activities. When I'm not working, I try to see that I'm with others often to ensure I don't isolate myself.

Thanks again for your comments, I appreciate them a great deal. Have a good Sunday.

Mike


brightforyou profile image

brightforyou 6 years ago from Florida

What a great hub Mike, I can identify with the isolation completely and I'm grateful for all the 'gentle nudging' within this hub. I find myself 'in my head' a lot of the time and sometimes forget that hours, days, weeks and yes..even years have gone by. I can see why you have a perfect hub score, thanks so much for sharing!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Brightforyou, thanks for reading. I also find myself living inside my mind a great deal and lose track of how much time can get away. Thank you for your kind words about my writing, I am appreciative. Take care.

Mike


wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

Good Day Mike Lickteig

I voted this up for useful. In addition to giving good advice that we should know but need to be reminded of from time to time, you delivered it in a very smooth prose style, that made the reading easier. That was a great start, citing that commercial about the little boy asking to buy an hour of his father's time.

Well done!

By the way, has anyone ever told you, Mike, that you look a little bit like Joe Mantegna from the show Criminal Minds, about the FBI profilers? I like Mantegna, he's cool. I was glad they replaced the other guy. He looked like he was constipated all the time.

As tonymac04 would say....

Love and Peace!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Wingedcentaur, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your kind words about my article. Isolation is a concern for writers, artists, and anyone who works from home. It is important we make certain to get out into the world a little and not remain shut in, no matter how involved we are in our work.

I had a relative tell me the picture I use for my avatar reminded them of Joe Mantegna. I take it as a compliment, I admire him as an actor and liked him ever since he played in the Godfather III, about 20 years ago.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Mike


darren 5 years ago

Thank you for the wonderful hub. My wide and I recently separated and I've been really struggling to get to the root of why in feeling so low. Your hub really hit home for me.Thank you!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 4 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Darren, thanks for your comments. I am gratified that you found some help and (perhaps) some answers in my words, and I wish you the best in the months to come. Thanks again.

Mike


martellawintek 3 years ago

hi stevo i got it from a friend so here is the link

filling address , there there most competitive in the game ,just say miss m wintek told you to ring him

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Learn more about isolation and loneliness with books from Amazon.com

    More by this Author


    Click to Rate This Article
    working