Isolation: The Power of it. Plus the Toxicity.
How Isolation can be used to elevate your life. How to use it responsibly.
Accompanying this article is a color pencil drawing I did that illuminates this subject.
So what is isolation? Isolation is when you spend time by yourself. To put it simply. It might be nice to be by yourself. It might be horrible. There are aspects of this condition that are in your control, depending who you are. There are parts of isolation that you can't control. You may think it's quite nice when you're isolated and therefore you don't have a bunch of different consciousnesses infusing in you that don't match the frequency you seek.
By the way - there's also social media, and that's a whole other topic. But it is noted that social media such as facebook, instagram and the like will interfere with what can be a black and white experience of isolation. With social media, you can have grey isolation. Grey isolation, as I dub it now - happens when you're without people BUT you may have other social interactions. Such as with pets. Or through comments on facebook. Or at the grocery store. But in grey isolation, no one truly sees you the way you can be seen in a deeper, nourishing interaction.
So, speaking personally, isolation has actually been my biggest fear for quite some time. Ok. Ok. I'm sure when faced with a crocodile swimming in a dark body of water, the crocodile overshadows my fear of isolation. But, in our modern, highly social world, isolation stands out to be my biggest fear. And at one point - it was my biggest threat too.
Isolation, when I was younger would cause me to feel disconnected from reality. You know why? Because I literally disconnected myself from the consensus reality. If you're not entirely sure what the consensus reality is - I will clarify the definition I understand. Consensus reality is the perspective that people in the vast majority live within. Consensus reality has a mold. Inside the mold, there is a window of what's acceptable and what's not. Everything outside this mold is rejected. There are clothes you are allowed to wear in the consensus reality. There is an order to conversation when exchanging words with another person. There is a limited number of facial expression that are accepted. If you do something that falls outside of the consensus reality, and you didn't mean to. Meaning, you misstep in any of the ways just listed, you will feel judgement from those who are agents of the consensus reality. You may actually be an agent of the consensus reality yourself. You just might not realize it. I'm sure most of us are these agents. Agents of control is another word for us. Or that part of us. For instance, you are reading this blog - which is generally acceptable to read in English, so you, at least in part, are an agent that keeps the consensus reality alive in the way we all adhere to English speaking.
Anyway, going back to when I was younger - during times of isolation - the only voice to talk to when I would leave the consensus reality - was the one in my own head. Like a pinball machine, my thoughts would bounce around, and I'd slowly go nuts! And THAT is why isolation can be a threat. No one to keep you in check. No one to say, "woah there buddy. Calm down." For little periods of time, we can all be cooky from our short bursts of isolation. It is when we isolate ourselves for weeks - or months - when things get dangerous. We start to believe in the things we conjure up by ourselves. Rightfully so. In our world outside of the consensus reality, we create a new world. A different world. And one which we may not want to leave.
It's a balancing act perhaps. However, according to the National Institute on Aging, the health risks of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day! Social isolation and loneliness have even been estimated to shorten a person's life span by as many as 15 years!
So that about covers the toxicity of isolation. Of loneliness. Well, not really. It goes infinitely deeper than that. You can find an endless list of symptoms that occur when people have isolated themselves for... too long.
And then, there are the artists. The great thinkers amongst us. Entrepreneurs. Inventors. Creatives. Writers. Architects even. Those that had a "breakthrough" moment when they spent just enough time away from the consensus reality. It's as if they spent time on a magical ship, and sailed to an island far, far away, and found a treasure. They then brought that treasure back to the consensus reality. A gift for all of us to enjoy. And a gift that might've made that person rich who knew that a little isolation could bring great reward.
Actually, I need to backtrack. I mentioned before that our world is "highly social". Is our world "highly social" though? I mean, we have social media. We have facebook. Instagram. Twitter. But we're talking about today, and not thirty years ago. Sometimes, I feel like I'm writing for an audience that lives in the past. Or perhaps parts of myself that is stuck in the past because life moves so incredibly fast now with the amount of technological jumps we're seeing. We're not interacting with each other on social media in the way "transcendent" social connection happens when you are face to face with someone. Someone who sees you.
We're not interacting with each other on social media in the way "transcendent" social connection happens when you are face-to-face with someone. Someone who sees you.
Social interactions online are radically different than they are face to face. Sometimes I have tumultuous interactions with people online, but when we are face-to-face, there's a humility. A softness. There is a caution in the interaction. I hold, when in the flesh, the sensitivity required for a positive social interaction. The boundaries are apparent, and I do not cross them. This sensitivity isn't as strong for me when I leave a comment on someone's facebook post.
So when there is a delay. Any delay that happens from facebook comments. Or even text messages, emails, etc... Delays happen when a message is delivered, and you wait for the person you delivered the message to get back to you. This can take a few seconds. It could take weeks. They might never get back to you. You are sort of suspended in time as far as your communication goes with that person, until they respond. So - if you are messaging someone, are you really in their company? No. You're temporarily isolated from them. From their perspective. And they haven't validated that they see your perspective. Until they do. And do you even really know they see you if they aren't making eye contact with you?
So isolation happens when you don't have anyone in your home as company. Sitting down at the kitchen table. Sharing a pause, or a verbal comment. In real time. Not zoom. Someone who may be agreeing or disagreeing with what you're saying. With your viewpoint of the world. If not, then you are isolated. You are in isolation for at least a little while. Until you have that connection again.
Ok - so when I say "isolation" - where I am currently coming from is that my girlfriend is away for a few days, and now I'm at home with my thoughts, my feelings, my environment, and my money. I say "money", because money is actually a form of interaction. When I'm making money, I'm providing others value. In a monetary sense. But value nonetheless. It's very validating for my existence. Hence, why someone would hand me over their money. So money is a form of social engagement. It's not bold at all to say money can be addicting. It shows the world is not isolating itself from you. The currency is flowing into you from the world. Certainly an antidote to the negative part of isolation. It staves off the loneliness. Even for a moment during some monetary interactions. Wouldn't you agree?
What I really want though - more than money - is a hug. A hug, and genuine eye contact. That's really all I want. Right? Is that what you want?
Maybe not. Going back a few sentences, as I write these words, there is something about making money. Or rather, the accomplishment that money measures that goes into me. It has its roots in me and many Americans. Or any people from any culture that money infiltrates. Isolation can be a time to plan. To strategize. To accomplish. To create accomplishments. To expand my existence a few shells larger that my soul is currently occupying. To embody achievement as much as I need. Isolation is a sort of incubation time.
So there you have it - the pros of isolation can lead to one's incubation time for great achievement. Incubation for what? If you're smart, and you pay extra attention to your mental health - which is a major ingredient for harvesting the jewels of isolation - then you can walk away nourished. Stronger. More expanded. With more fortitude to breathe with more ease.
However, isolation also has its shadow. As you may be abundantly aware. It may be fun to write your blog post finally! Or have some time to paint. Or cook what you want. You might even complete a book! You might complete some business transactions. But 6 am turns to 12 pm. And 12 pm turns to 3 pm. You start to eat a little bit more. You start to eat when you've already had your fill. And there is a creeping feeling that no one knows what you're up to. Where you are. Or what you're doing. And then you suspect because no one is calling, no one cares about you really. Naw. But.. maybe. Maybe you're alone. Utterly alone.
You might try meditating. Eventually you'll have to pay rent to continue the acceptance of isolation. And thus, the jewels you harvest from your creativity during isolation can provide the sustenance needed to allow your soul to be cultivated to arrive at ascension.
So you embrace your isolation, when you're aware of the positives of it. How can you complete an epic book though when you're busy entertaining party guests? How can you paint your beautiful painting when there are social interactions that demand your attention. The truth is, isolation provides time and space for you to be with your thoughts, and convert your internal world into an external world. Once you've been out at sea for long enough, you can eventually come back, and share with the world what you've witnessed.
And that wouldn't be so bad after all. Would it?
Author: Andrew Kaminski