States like depression, anxiety, and fear get in the way of our ability to be compassionate or to feel that positive connection. These and other chronic conditions can put us or our partner into a state of self-preservation that makes it very hard to think about the needs of even the most important people in our lives.
Addicting habits like alcohol, pornography, or gambling tend to mask or numb ourselves from the symptoms of depression, anxiety, fear, or other long-term addictions; however they also remove us from further connection and compassion. It turns out we cannot mask the painful feelings without masking all of our feelings.
When you objectively look at your ability to regularly connect and to care, how are you doing? Is your life filled with precious moments of meaning and connection? Or are you, for much of your day, disconnected, disengaged, and just going through the motions?
There are people who have devoted their lives to helping others remove barriers in order to find fulfilling and meaningful lives. If you feel sad, lost, stuck, alone, or like life is passing you by, it could be caused by a lack of love and connection. The good news is it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Two such positive outcomes are the stories of Phillip and Mary (names changed for confidentiality).
Philip had known for a long time that he had been using way too many pain relievers. With the help and support of his therapist, he took a look at his life and realized that by switching around his schedule just two hours a week, he could greatly increase his connection to a few need-fulfilling people in a way that greatly improved his overall mood. Over a period of several weeks, his need to overuse prescription medications fell away and his life fulfillment soared.
Mary, who felt sad and useless, faced her tendency to criticize—an annoying habit she knew pushed people away—and replaced it with a positive attitude and service. In a couple of months, not only did she improve a marriage she had about given up on, she became the person her friends looked for first.
Start talking about the barriers that keep you from compassion and connection. Go ahead and talk about what keeps you alone in your “safe” corner. Think about the things you do to feel better and think about whether those things are making you a better person.
Consider getting together with someone who cares and has the skills and ability to help you face and get past these things for good. People are often surprised at how a very small life adjustment can lead to great life fulfillment.