Ice Queen. Sharp. Cold. Unfeeling. This seems to be the general opinion of those who shun openness and intimacy, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. People who isolate are often deeply sensitive; their heightened response to social situations leaves them anxious and drained, so they withdraw physically and emotionally to cope. Unfortunately, cutting ties with the community is even worse than being ruffled by it, and the lack of love and nurturing will wear on even the most stoic of souls, causing unrest, cynicism, and in the worst cases, depression.
What can be done to overcome this seemingly paradoxical condition? The answer is simple, yet demanding: know thyself. Self-love, self-esteem, and self-acceptance are the perfect antidote to anxiety and discomfort in the face of group dynamics. Once you understand and embrace the beautiful, warring factions of yourself, it’s much easier to make space for the bright, bold personalities of others, and to forgive them their missteps and peccadilloes. Sound intense? It is. But from where I stand, it is the only way to create and sustain positive relationships.
Soul work of this sort is a commitment–accepting yourself warts and all ain’t gonna happen overnight. However, if you’re more than ready to step off of the bullshit carousel (thank you, Kelly-Ann Maddox), here are some methods to help jumpstart the process.
Pathworking the Cards
One of the best ways I’ve found to break out of isolation is to revisit traumatic events through pathworking tarot cards. To date, I’ve discovered two ways of doing this:
1. Choose a specific event that happened in your past that deeply wounded you, and choose a card that you feel best reflects the way in which you felt betrayed. You may also choose a card to symbolize the party or parties that wounded you. Meditate on the meanings of the cards, and if you haven’t already done so, project yourself into the environment of the card and “take a walk”. Create a narrative of what’s happening, give your figure action, and try to imagine where he/she is coming from or where he/she is going to. Upon completing this, recreate the event in your mind as accurately as possible. Try and explore the motives that you had and that your party had that caused things to go down the way that they did. Allow yourself to feel any emotions that this reflection stirs in you. Once you’ve completed this (and here’s the kicker), explore the things you may have done or the ways that you behaved that contributed to this traumatic event. It is key that you try and be completely honest with yourself–I’ve rarely found myself to be a completely innocent party in any conflict, and viewing myself through the perspective of others is…enlightening. The many times that I’ve done this, I’ve realized that I wasn’t just a helpless victim, but rather an active participant in the situation, and as such, partially responsible for the outcome. And, if you manage to get through this step in one piece, reflect on the action of the person(s) that hurt you, and think if you’ve ever committed those actions against others. Think of your own motives for doing what you did, and try to see if maybe those that hurt you didn’t do so out of spite or malice, but perhaps out of fear and insecurity. The revelations will blow your mind, I promise.
2. Choose a card from a tarot deck that inspires disturbing or complex feelings in you. Sit and meditate on that card and try to figure out why you feel the way that you do about it. See if the feelings you experience have their genesis in shadow; in other words, see if the card prompts you to think about aspects of yourself that you aren’t necessarily keen on or are denying to yourself. Next, try to pinpoint those feelings to a certain relationship or event in your life, and reflect on why you experience/experienced them. If you’re having trouble, pick up a journal and let your stream of consciousness flow. Let what you’ve written sit for a couple days, and then revisit it. Write down your thoughts.
Set aside time and find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted. Sit in whichever position is most comfortable for you and focus on your breath. If you’re having trouble concentrating, try closing your eyes or putting on some meditation music (youtube has loads of options to choose from). If you’re of the witchy sort, create sacred space and use your altar as a focus point. After you’ve reached the alpha state (moderate focus and relaxation), turn your attention to your heart chakra. Imagine the smiling faces of all that you love, and wish them love in return. Then, attempt to free your mind of all thought but loving kindness–imagine feelings of goodwill emanating from your heart and reaching every human being. Smile. Breathe. Let fear, doubt, and disbelief leave you, making space for the expression of love. Try and do this for ten minutes or more every day. If that doesn’t quite fit your schedule, try and do this as often as possible. Every little bit helps, believe me.
Get Out Into the World
So you’ve shut yourself up in your ivory tower and now you’re a bit hesitant to leave. Completely understandable. But if you’re ever going to have a healthy relationship with yourself and others, you have to put yourself out there. Even the most mundane activity (like going to the grocery store) gives you countless opportunities to interact, and the more you do it, the more you realize that it’s not that bad after all. Think of it as your own personal brand of exposure therapy–when you face your fears and emerge more or less in tact, you become more confident in your abilities to weather the storm. Given time, you internalize this success, and your reactions tend to lesson in intensity.
If you’re still skeptical, try this experiment: for one day, record all of the social interactions that you experience. Try to pinpoint and record your emotional response, and as objectively as you can, report the outcome of the interaction. If your outcomes are generally more positive than negative, it supports the notion that human interaction is generally beneficial. If, however, your outcomes are more negative than positive, it stands to reason that a) you are being weighed down by toxic relationships and environments, and you possibly need to pair down and regroup, or b) you may be the source of discord, and you need to delve deeply into that shadow work.
Forgive Yourself, Forgive Others
Many isolate themselves as a result of being hurt or betrayed by a loved one. Given the wrong done them, they shy away from openness and vulnerability to prevent experiencing the same sort of pain. The only way for a person to truly overcome this wariness is to forgive the wrong done them, and to forgive themselves for any part they may have had in the conflict. Being a human is messy, and sometimes we screw up in our dealings with one another. Emotions take control and we do and say hurtful things in the heat of the moment. As pathworking tarot cards gives you insight into how and why things went awry, forgiving the trespasses of yourself and others gives you the peace of mind to get out there and try again–you’ll have more tolerance for people, more tolerance for yourself, and hope that you’ll behave differently this time. Everything is a process and no one is perfect, so the best we can do is apologize and move forward.
Good luck, beautiful people, and may the force be with you!
Intrigued? Click here to work with me.