Often, people isolate themselves from others to avoid pain. They will decline invitations and skip out on social gatherings because they fear possible rejection, abandonment, judgment, or embarrassment. You might feel afraid that someone might not like you, or worse, the whole group might not like you. These kinds of thoughts are common drivers to want to avoid people and social experiences.
Along these lines, someone with Social Anxiety might also want to avoid social events. Social Anxiety is the experience of having extreme fear about others judging or shaming you in public. This can also drive someone to want to avoid public places and social events. Of course, these are all good reasons to want to stay at home and isolate yourself from others. In fact, often when someone has a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, they may also have a desire to keep to themselves.
However, if you are also recovering from addiction, then it’s important to have some connection with the outside world. It’s important to have relationships with friends, family, and professionals. Doing so can keep you healthy and safe. As you can imagine, isolating yourself from others may put you in danger of relapsing or getting sick in another way without anyone else knowing.
Benefits of Staying Connected to Others
But staying safe is not the only reason to make sure you stay connected to others, here are some additional benefits for having ongoing connections with those you know:
- feel inspired by others
- feel supported by others
- feel seen, heard, and understood
- feelings of belonging
- have friends and family to talk to when you’re stressed
- prevent feelings of loneliness
- prevent feelings of despair (which can grow when someone dwells in negative thinking)
- experience moments of laughter
Steps to Help You Spend Time With Others
Because spending time with others can bring so many benefits, you might consider the following steps to help yourself spend time with others more often:
- Go to a public place. Public places have other people around but you’re not necessarily interacting with any of them. That’s a good place to start if you’re fearful or uncomfortable at first.
- Call an old friend whom you feel comfortable with. There might be at least one person in your life with whom you feel comfortable. You might also try calling that person as a means to step out of isolation and loneliness.
- Get professional help. Sometimes we pull away because we are hurt or we are fearful of getting hurt again. It’s helpful to have a therapist to help work through the places in which you feel distant or detached from life. Keep in mind that experiences in recovery can be difficult, and these challenging experiences can also create the desire to pull away from others. What you’re experiencing in recovery might be another reason to seek extra professional support. By doing so, you might feel more empowered to face the challenges of recovery while also exploring the tendency to isolate from others.
- Try spending time with others. After you’ve done some of your own exploration of why you might be isolating, see what it’s like for you to do something fun with a friend. You might notice that your thoughts have gotten the better of you and that actually spending time with others was worthwhile.
These are a few suggestions for breaking out of your shell. As mentioned above, isolation from others can be dangerous. And spending time with others brings many benefits. If you can find a way to connect with friends, family, or a professional, doing so may support your sobriety.