Two weeks into the coronavirus lockdown, Aidan noticed the terrible ache around his heart. Though he was used to living on his own, the fear of the virus caused him to take isolating very seriously. He gave up dating and stopped seeing his family and friends except via Zoom calls. Only once a week would he venture out of his house to go to the grocery store.
Over the months of isolation, he drank more alcohol, ate too much junk food, and gained the “Quarantine 15.” The ache turned into a numbness and Aidan was simultaneously becoming apathetic and completely hooked on the endless news cycle. He felt pinched, shriveled, and more dead than alive when he finally reached out to me for help with how to feel less alone.
Isolation Puts Your Feelings on Steroids
Coronavirus is amplifying the disconnection and isolation many people were already experiencing before the pandemic. Like the virus, loneliness has also become a global epidemic. In times of isolation, it’s difficult to know how to feel less alone.
Aidan and I connect over a Zoom video call, and I learn that a good friend of his suggested he contact me. He begins by telling me he feels like there is something terribly wrong with him. I ask Aidan to describe how all of this feels for him on the inside. “I feel hollow and like all of the energy is sucked out of me,” he answers. “I’m scared that I’ll wither away, die, and no one will even care.”
“That sounds very frightening,” I reflect. “Tell me how your life was going pre-pandemic.”
He answers, “I have always led a very busy life. Work stressed me out and so did dating, but I just pushed through hoping I would meet my soulmate and then everything would get better.”
“How did you feel about yourself then versus now?” I ask.
He pauses. “Well, I still had these fears of something being wrong with me, but I could keep myself busy enough so that they didn’t really bother me,” he explains, “now it feels like these feelings are on steroids!”
You Are Already Whole And Complete
“This may actually be more of a wake-up call than a crisis,” I say to Aidan. He looks curious. “Isolation seems to have uncovered that you were not genuinely feeling whole or fulfilled with your life before the quarantine. Keeping yourself busy is a common strategy used to avoid internal feelings of discomfort. Covid may be forcing you to confront yourself on a deeper level.” I continue, “Perhaps the real question is not how do I feel less alone? but ‘Who am I? What is my purpose? What do I really want in my life?’ When you have an underlying unconscious theme that there’s something wrong with you, it’s difficult to answer these questions. Have you ever taken the time to examine why you feel like there’s something wrong with you?”
He looks puzzled and answers “No, I don’t know why I feel that way. Outwardly, I know I’m smart and competent, but inside – especially when I’m stressed – I feel like I’m defective. I guess I’ve been looking for that special someone who can tell me once and for all that I’m okay and good enough.”
”That’s the challenge,” I reply. “No one else can do this for you. You’re the only one who can tell yourself the truth that you already are whole and complete.”
He looks concerned. “But how do I do that? Right now, in fact, I feel something must be wrong with me because I can’t see a way out of this.”
Interrupt Negative Thoughts With Presence and Breath Exercises
“The first step out is to identify the thoughts and feelings in your body,” I say reassuringly. “What sensation do you feel inside right now?” I ask.
“I feel heavy in my chest like I’m sinking into a pit of despair,” Aidan answers.
“The second step is to interrupt these thoughts and feelings by doing a simple presence and breathing exercise. Let’s begin with the presence exercise. Look around your visual field and name colors and objects out loud, for example, green tablecloth, white ball, black phone.” I have Aidan take five big breaths, through an open mouth, so that he’s lifting his chest and filling his lungs to capacity. Then I have him softly let go on the exhale, while he continues to silently name colors and objects. Afterwards, I ask how he’s feeling on the inside.
“At first, I got a little dizzy with the breaths but doing the presence exercise helped. Now, I feel a little warmth in my upper chest,” he replies. “I’m beginning to feel like I’ve had a good workout.” “My friend told me about the breathing exercises you do with people,” he says. “They really work! I’m feeling more energized and positive.”
“Wonderful,” I reply. “Now it’s time to tell yourself the truth.”
He looks at me. “Yeah, I get it,” he says. There’s nothing wrong with me and there never was. I’m just having a hard time right now. It’s a challenge living through this pandemic, but I’m in it with everyone else. We’re all in it together.”
You Are Not Alone When You Connect With Your Core Self
I smile and explain that one way to feel less alone is to breathe fully and become present. In essence, breathing and presence connect you to the core of who you really are – your energetic self – which is never defective and always whole. “It’s simple, but it’s not easy,” I explain, “because the next step is to understand and conquer the unconscious ways you interrupt your core self experience. Now, that you’re in your core, we can work together to discover what triggers you into feeling defective. It’s usually an old story you’ve been telling yourself based on very early experiences. The problem is that until you shed some light on this pattern, it will surface whenever you are challenged or stressed. It limits your ability to grow and move forward.”
“I’m all in!” Aidan exclaims. “I didn’t realize therapy could be so interesting and illuminating.”
As we continue our work together, Aidan blossoms. Not only does he learn how to feel less alone, he begins to expand and move forward in his life.
Take the Time to Discover Who You Are on the Inside
I practice Integrative Body Psychotherapy (IBP), a profound and transformative therapeutic approach that works with the whole person – body, mind and spirit. IBP practices go to the root of why you feel anxious, depressed and alone. Once you experience yourself at your core, you understand that you are never alone. You may feel lonely during global challenges like the pandemic, but you are not alone because you have YOU.
IBP has also been one of the world’s best-kept secrets, which is why I’m on a mission to bring it to a wider audience. I’ve developed an online course called “The Core Self Transformation” which lays out the foundational principles of IBP and gives you the tools and techniques I teach my individual clients and students over several sessions. I invite you to check it out. I’ve included a 30-day money-back guarantee because I want you to have the benefits of this knowledge without feeling any stress. If it doesn’t work for you, at least you had the opportunity to try it. I truly believe this program will help you feel less alone as you explore your inner universe and begin to love yourself as only you can.