The festive session is around the corner- it is a season of joy and celebration but it is also the time of the year where many people feel extremely lonely and isolated.
This is the continuation from the previous article, Reversing heart disease- through lifestyle changes (scientifically proven). The following would be appropriate and perhaps could serve as comfort for those of you who may feel especially down during this time of the year. We can be with groups of partying friends and yet feel empty and hollow. On the other hand, we can be alone and yet contended and at peace. Why do we feel that way- sometimes up and sometimes in the dumps? Why is it so that no one seemed to understand us or that we don’t seemed to know what we want anymore?
Perhaps it is this increased feeling of isolation and loneliness that goes largely untreated and unaddressed that explain why heart disease remain one of the main killer in many developed and affluent countries. When I look into the eyes of many people, I could see the deep unhappiness in a number of them. Being loss and don’t know what to do…. just going to life in motions and reacting to situations. The joy of success wears off in a while- to be replaced soon by stress, self-imposed expectation and eventually it brings to more feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Below (in blue font) is quoted from Dr Dean Ornish’s book, “Dr Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease“. I am quoting fully from his book because many people would be able to relate to what he is saying- no one could say it any better than him. Below is taken from Chapter 4 “Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous” (pages 98-100).
Providing someone with health information is not always enough to motivate changes in behavior. We’re all going to die sometime, but if we don’t really enjoy living, who cares about changing behavior? When I was a medical student, both the chief of oncology and the chief of pulmonary medicine smoked. It wasn’t because they didn’t know any better, but they seemed to be very unhappy people. There are many ways to be self-destructive, slowly or rapidly, when life doesn’t bring us the happiness we expect.
When a person perceives himself as being isolated and alone, this creates a view of the world that is fundamentally self-defeating and self destructive. This self-destruction can come in many forms, including compulsive exercise, compulsive working, compulsive sex, smoking, alcoholism, drugs, and the million and one other ways that we can have to distance ourselves from other people and from our feelings. And while these temporarily may help to blunt the pain, they increase our feelings of isolation leading to more pain in a vicious cycle.
Second, changing behavior is not always enough for real healing to occur. We need to address what underlies the behavior. It’s not sufficient simply to change behaviors like diet and exercise, because our behaviors are only manifestations of our self-perceptions. We need also to change those perceptions of isolation that can lead o these behaviors. The issue is not only living longer, but also being more free of self-imposed limitation that often lead to suffering.
Third, when we invest our self-esteem and self-worth in the outcome of an event or in the behavior of another person, then we are giving that event or person power over our lives– to make us happy or sad, to make us feel good or bad about ourselves, and, ultimately, to live or to die.
Finally, people only have power over us to the degree that they have something that we think we need. When we define ourselves as separate, we define ourselves as lacking and as needy. When we choose an arena- in this case, “If only I were a world-class athlete”- then we give our power away.
So, to summarize, isolation can lead to illness, whereas intimacy can lead to healing. Isolation comes in several forms:
1. Isolation from our feelings, our own inner self, and inner peace
2. Isolation from others
3. Isolation from a higher force
All cultures and eras have had difficult problems, and people worried about wars, plaques, famines, and so on. The chronic stress in the twentieth-century America is not only from the increased pace of modern life but also from the isolation, loneliness, and lack of love and support that many people experience.
In summary, stress today comes not only from what we do but also from how we react to what we do. How we react, in turn, is a function of how we perceive ourselves. When we perceive ourselves only as isolated and alone- apart from the world instead of a part of it- then we are likely to feel chronically stressed. Chronic stress, in turn, can lead to heart disease both in its direct effects on the heart and because of the self-destructive behavior patterns that result. Anything that helps us transcend and transform this perceived isolation can be healing.
Update: Dr Dean Ornish have a new book out. Check out this YouTube video: