Why are some people prone to feeling detached from those around them? Are you such a person yourself? If you are, then you have probably wondered where this feeling comes from and how to stop it.
I always felt somehow disconnected from the people around me. As if there was an invisible wall between me and them. Like I could never reach an ultimate connection and understanding with anyone. Sounds familiar? First of all, let’s delve into the possible causes of feeling detached from people.
What leaves us feeling detached from everyone?
Brain structure and chemistry
It may sound surprising, but some people’s brains are wired for a feeling of detachment. While there may be many different causes associated with brain structure, we will focus on the most common one. It has to do with the production of a vital neurotransmitter – dopamine.
This neurotransmitter plays an important role in one’s ability to connect with other people. First of all, it participates in reward-seeking behaviors, and social interaction is one of those. For example, studies show that the brains of introverted people don’t rely on a dopamine release. It explains why introverts don’t find social activities as rewarding as extroverts do.
Another study showed that the production of dopamine is closely linked to the perception of personal space. Thus, people who need less space and tend to break other people’s personal boundaries tend to have higher levels of dopamine. Of course, the opposite is true too – too little dopamine equals greater needs for personal space.
A dopamine release can also be impaired in case of certain mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. When we lack this neurotransmitter, we are more likely to fall into the feelings of being detached, misunderstood and disconnected from other people.
Negative past experiences
When you were hurt in the past, it’s easy to lose the ability to trust and connect with those around you. Childhood trauma, abuse, bullying or toxic relationships can distort our perception of other people and the world.
Experiences like these often make us withdraw into ourselves and isolate ourselves from the hostile and unsafe world. And the more you do this, the more difficult it gets to feel the connection again. Chronic avoidance and isolation can result in a feeling of detachment.
Being in the wrong company
We all know that the people we surround ourselves with play a huge role in our wellbeing. While isolation can be harmful to our mental health, being in the wrong company can be even worse.
Are your friends or family tend to be judgmental and negative? Do they criticize you or diminish your achievements? Do you feel like being taken for granted or taken advantage of?
There can be numerous instances of negative and toxic people that might be part of your social circle. If the people you spend your time with don’t make you feel good, it makes sense why you might be feeling disconnected and alone.
The same can happen when you hang out with the wrong people, i.e. those you have little in common with. Think about it – maybe you just haven’t found your tribe?
Spiritual or personal crisis
When we move to a different level of spiritual or personal evolution, we often feel like everything falls apart. Everything you knew about life, yourself and others seems wrong. It could be that your understanding of how things work turned out to be false. Or maybe your idea of someone important in your life now seems foolish and illusory.
All this is painful and makes us feel disconnected from reality and other people. However, a crisis like this always leads to a new stage in your evolution as a person. You just need to take your time to go through this. It is an important step towards your purpose.
What happens when you are feeling detached?
You are unable to feel the connection even with your closest ones
It’s like an invisible wall between you and them. You see each other, talk and do things together, but you remain disconnected. You seemingly participate in activities with other people, but in your mind, you keep thinking about your loneliness and detachment. Like nothing and no one can make you feel a connection with another human being again.
You feel like no one understands you
You may feel the need to talk to someone about your feelings and thoughts. But yet, you think that no one will understand you anyway, so it’s not worth the effort. Maybe those around you have a completely different personality and way of thinking. Or maybe you believe that they just don’t care.
As a result, you feel alone and misunderstood. It gets more intense when you are with other people since true loneliness doesn’t come from being alone but from being unable to connect with others.
You focus on the differences between you and people
The feelings of detachment make you notice and even look for the differences between you and the people in your life. It’s as if you suddenly forget what brought you together in the first place and focus only on the things that separate you.
You can only see the differences, which seem so huge and deep in comparison with the similarities. It’s a lie that the feeling of detachment wants you to believe.
All conversations feel boring and pointless
We can’t always have only ultimately deep and interesting conversations. We should also discuss the mundane stuff and the things that interest other people. However, when you are feeling detached from everyone, it gets unbearable. You literally can’t have small talk or discuss things that, in your opinion, don’t matter.
It feels like all conversations you have with other people lack substance, so you end up not wanting any communication. It leads to further isolation and detachment.
How to deal with the feeling of being detached and misunderstood?
Distance yourself from the wrong people and try to find your tribe
This one can be tricky because the state of detachment can make you feel like everyone around you is the wrong company. However, you should analyze your social circle and think if there are any toxic people in it. Dream killers, overly critical and judgmental people, fake and manipulative individuals and so on.
Try asking yourself the following questions:
- Does this person make me feel happy?
- Do they genuinely care about me?
- Do they make me feel good about myself?
In the process, you may also realize that the people you surround yourself with are not ‘your tribe’. So you need to find like-minded individuals. The simplest way to do so is to follow your passion, hobby or interest. Enrolling in a class, volunteering or joining a community will help you find people with similar interests and values in life.
Focus on the things that unite you with those around you
To fight the separation illusion the feeling of detachment imposes on you, you should move your focus from the differences between you and people onto the things that unite you.
If it’s friends or a special someone, recall how you met and all the fun you had with each other. Ask yourself what sparked the attraction/interest and brought you together. If it’s parents or other family members that you feel detached from, remember a few happy moments you had together and think about all the good traits and talents you inherited from them.
Realize that ultimate understanding doesn’t exist
Just think about it. Can we really truly and fully understand another person? Everyone has a unique perspective on life and the world. Many people share similar beliefs and values, but it’s still impossible to see the world through someone else’s eyes.
We can only understand those around us from our own perspective. And our differences in perception and personality are what makes life diverse and interesting. After all, opposites attract, remember? I bet that if you meet a person who is extremely similar to you in terms of personality, behavior and way of thinking, you will most probably get bored or irritated quickly.
Fight self-absorption and cultivate empathy
Very often, the feeling of being detached from other people comes from being overly self-absorbed. And here, I’m not talking about narcissists and sociopaths.
Anyone can be a little too focused on their own feelings and thoughts. It can stem from one’s personality traits or mental illness. For example, it often happens to introverts and overthinkers, as well as anxious and depressed people. A constant negative self-talk is a form of self-absorption too.
To deal with self-absorption, try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It means imagining how they feel and think about a situation or in general. When someone is telling you things about themselves, actually listen and try to think why it is important for them and they are sharing it with you.
For example, here is a compromise for the lack of interesting and deep conversations that you might be feeling. You could ask someone about an important event in their life and how they felt about it. This will give you a deep topic to talk about and at the same time, will help you develop empathy and fight self-absorption.
Copyright © 2012-2019 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.