Animals of all species have one thing in common – the need to have others around. Isolation is an emotional and physical killer. Isolation is one thing that will make everyone crumble at some point.
But have you ever thought about how the work you do is isolating? You see and hear so much tragedy every day in different ways. It doesn’t matter right now if you are a police officer, fire fighter, EMT, 911 dispatcher, doctor, nurse, or therapist. I am speaking to you. Every one of you has an isolating job.
How can anyone really understand what you do? How can you explain your day without upsetting them? How often do you get support from colleagues versus being sarcastic about what happened today?
You are the protector and savior of so many people every day. That is a huge burden you carry. You do amazing work every day. But there are consequences to the job you do: isolation, burnout, compassion fatigue, apathy, jadedness, etc. These consequences lead to more consequences such as feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, despair, irritability, sarcasm, etc. Additionally, behavioral changes may occur such as sleeplessness, appetite changes, activity changes, withdrawal behavior, yelling, acting out, increased time at the gym or risky behaviors.
If you look at wild animals, they often travel in packs or herds. Have you ever thought about why? Evolution and instinct. Instinct and evolution have taught them to stick together. There are several reasons why animals travel in packs – some don’t matter as much to us as humans, for example the more animals there are together, the more visually confusing it can be for a predator. However, there are a number of other reasons that relate to us as humans as well.
The reality is the animals survive because they support each other. There is safety in numbers. We already know that. Secret number 1 is you are more likely to survive if you are not alone. Whereas it may (or may not) be life and death to go out in packs as humans, our survival as individuals and as a species depends on us helping each other.
What would happen if every single human being decided they didn’t need anyone else? If they didn’t care about anyone else. If the world became “each man for himself.” Just think about all of the large scale tragedies around the world pretty much daily from natural disasters to man made disasters. There are countless people providing support to those affected by each disaster. What if nobody cared anymore? The species would die out pretty quickly!
Secret number 2 is that in a pack, we can be “off duty” at times because we know there are others “protecting” us. Sometimes that protection is physical and sometimes it is emotional, but if we are alone, we would need to be “on” all the time to watch for danger. If the world did go into “each man for himself” mode, it wouldn’t matter if you had a house with an alarm system. But if you had a buddy system; someone else to watch out for you and you for them, your odds of survival go up.
Animals in a herd can rest, look for food, and thus survive, because others are watching out for danger.
These two vital secrets to survival are both physical and emotional. When we feel safe, we are calm. When we’re calm, life is more enjoyable and stressors are easier to handle. We can turn off the fight/flight mode, knowing that if danger arises, someone will alert us and we will still be safe. If we need to survive alone, we would always be alert to danger. The fight/flight system would stay dominant and little changes in our environment would cause us to believe we are being attacked and thus react quickly and accordingly.
The survival part of the brain does not know, nor care, if the change in the environment is a real threat or not, its sole purpose is keep you alive. So seeing a mouse out of the corner of your eye would make the survival part of your brain respond, despite this not being a life-threatening change.
Who is in your herd? Who are the people who watch out for you? Who are the people who make you feel safe? Who are the people who allow you to turn off and relax?
You do not need to share every detail of your work with them. That is not the purpose of a herd. The purpose is to support you how you need the support.
What do these people do for you? Can they be doing more? Can you let your guard down a bit more knowing they’ll be there to catch you and protect you?
If you need to add support, where can you find others? Do you need to be the leader of this herd, or can you join one that is already in existence?
Imagine life where you don’t have to fight alone. Imagine life where you don’t feel so isolated and cut off.
This is possible, and although fear of rejection can make it scary to reach out, it doesn’t have to be so hard.
We can do it together. I will help you build or grow your herd so you can continue the life saving work you do everyday without getting caught up in its loneliness.
You can directly schedule a free consultation with me on my contact page.