Social isolation can come in many different presentations. Some people make a conscious decision to hide away from the world, some people are excluded due to being ‘different’ and some people exclude themselves due to underlying mental illness.
Groups such as workplace groups, sporting groups and other interest groups are often joined by people who are wanting to firstly, become involved in something that they are interested in but secondly, to form a social bond and be accepted by likeminded people. They are after a sense of belonging and purpose.
It is common for a few people to be excluded from the main group in these situations and this can be due to many reasons. The issue of mental health might impact a person and their ability to become involved in discussions or activities due to a lack of self confidence, anxiety and low self worth. They might not believe that they have anything of value to contribute or they might be too worried about saying the wrong thing. Anxiety can cause a person to walk away from an everyday situation and analyse every word that was said and every action that was taken and criticise it, feeding the feelings of worthlessness.
These people may appear to be confident, happy and jovial. This is often a façade to ensure no one is aware of their self beliefs but if the surface is scratched, it is easily uncovered.
We need to change our thinking. It helps to stop dwelling on past mistakes, they are done and can not be changed. We need to stop trying to control everything. We can only control certain aspects of situations but one thing we can control is our reaction and behaviour. Every time we think about a negative thought, we could also try to also consider a positive thought. Of course this is all easier said than done. The people who experience these thoughts and feelings are not simply ‘negative’ people. It is an unfortunate product of their environment and experiences.
We can make a difference by simply saying hello to everyone in a group when we arrive or ensuring that everyone is heard in a meeting or group conversation. It might seem quite trivial but it might also be the only interaction that person has each day and it could help someone to feel like they matter. And as the saying goes, be kind to others because you have no idea what they are going through.