50 – The Danger of Isolation
Have you ever felt alone? Have you been lonely? Do you ever struggle with the sense that there’s no one around that you can go to when you need prayer or just a pal to listen? If so, you’re not the only one! You’re “not alone.” In fact, in the last 10 years or so, studies have shown that our sense of aloneness and loneliness has grown more profound than ever before. So why should we care? Because one of the enemy’s most powerful tools to use against believers, especially those of us who are writers, is isolation.
What are the dangers of isolation?
Studies done in the last 5 years show that isolation isn’t just unhealthy, it’s deadly.
- Elderly people who don’t have enough social interaction or a strong social connection are twice as likely to die prematurely
- Social isolation is deadlier for people than obesity
- When one is socially isolated, the increased mortality rate is equivalent to that of smoking
- Social media is false interaction. Recent surveys have shown the more time a person spends on social media, the less happy that person tends to be. True social interaction must be done face-to-face.
When you’re isolated the enemy has you one-on-one.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 tells us “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
When you’re isolated:
- It’s harder to see truth, easier to be swayed, You don’t have an objective viewpoint to help you see better
- You don’t have anyone in the fight with you
- You have no one to give you ideas, help/instruction, or support/encouragement
- You have no one to challenge your ideas
- You don’t grow as a result of mixing with people who see things differently (even other religions, etc.)
- You can become exclusive in your thinking, believing you’re the only one with the right answer
- You’re more prone to arrogance – not being teachable, as writers this is problematic
- You may become unwilling to reach out to writers who are “the competition” when in reality you can help each other
Isolation can cause you to form a habit of self-reliance and selfishness, which leads to not depending on God either.
But we were created for community. We’re the BODY of Christ.
Is there anything good about being isolated?
Intentional healthy isolation—let’s call that solitude—can be helpful for…
- Unplugging for spiritual refreshment, connection to God, prayer, listening, reflecting
- Focusing on individual skill building or emotional growth
- Reading and reflecting on what you’ve read
- Turtle Time: Recharging if you’re an introvert
How can we know if we’ve isolated or if we’re seeking solitude?
Consider this distinction between the two from Psychology Today:
“Loneliness is marked by a sense of isolation. Solitude, on the other hand, is a state of being alone without being lonely and can lead to self-awareness”
Psychology Today goes on to say, “Solitude is a positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself. Solitude is desirable, a state of being alone where you provide yourself wonderful and sufficient company. It’s a time for reflection, inner searching or growth or enjoyment of some kind. Thinking and creativity usually require solitude…Loneliness is harsh, punishment, a deficiency state, a state of discontent marked by a sense of estrangement. Solitude restores body and mind. Isolation depletes them.”
Look at the way it feels:
Are you feeling recharged? Refreshed? Ready to take on each day? Do you have a sense of peace? Of savoring the richness of your alone time? Then that’s solitude, an intentional coming away for a limited time.
Are you feeling lonely? Overwhelmed? Depressed? Abandoned? Unloved? Struggling with whatever comes your way during the day? Do you feel like this time of being alone was imposed on you? Or that it’s happened because nobody cares or understands you? Or the result of feeling shamed and unworthy? That’s isolation.
Solitude is something to be cultivated and savored.
Isolation is damaging and a seeming confirmation of our most negative self-talk.
So what if you’ve realized you’re caught up in isolation? Well, there are some practical things you can do to escape it.
- Make time with others a priority. Philippians 2: 2-4 says: Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too
- See number one. Yes, it’s hard, especially for introverts. This is something you’re going to have to make yourself do. But the hardest part is the first step. The momentum. Tell yourself it doesn’t have to be a long interaction. Phone or video call a friend. Go out for coffee or tea. Ask God to help you take the first step. Then be brave and ask Him if there are groups or activities He wants you involved in.
- Recognize there are other people whose life and faith journeys are different from your own. Be willing to listen, to hear their hearts. Let them challenge and refine you, always adhering, though, to what God shows you is truth. As Proverbs 12:15 says: Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.
- Stop wearing masks. Live authentically and honestly, letting people see you for who you are.
- Find allies (we’ll be doing a whole online course on this in the future!). Join a writers group. Start a mastermind or brainstorming group. Or reading group. Or prayer or accountability or whatever. Be the one to reach out.
It’s okay to have time alone. In fact, it’s often a necessary part of our work as writers and our faith journey. But the enemy loves to slip in and move us beyond that helpful kind of alone time into the dangerous territory of isolation. We need to open ourselves to God’s leading and discernment. To ask Him if we’re caught in isolation. And if He shows us we are, then it’s time to act. To get outside of ourselves and embrace the wisdom and call of Hebrews 10:24-25: Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
We want to hear from you!
What helps you steer clear of the danger of isolation?