Deserted and down
Living in isolation is challenging and it takes courage to reach out
IWAS working with a group recently and part of the conversation was about the challenges people face when living remotely, particularly on rural properties. We spoke more about the physical and psychological challenges rather than the challenges of weather, location, water supplies or market price shifts.
In communities there are opportunities to connect with others through a special interest group, social club or sporting team, but it is different when your nearest neighbour may be dozens or hundreds of kilometres away.
Some rural residents may have people around who work with them, or family members, but others may have needed to reduce their workforce for financial reasons.
They may find themselves with just their partner or alone and isolated.
The combination of geographical isolation, tough times, weather events, lack of social connection, getting older and perhaps an inability to sell the property or business can lead many into a downward spiral.
The problem is that the qualities that have supported them and built resilience in life so far such as mental toughness, physical strength, working through the hard times and getting through each challenge by doing what has to be done without complaint often also work against them.
It can be hard to reach out to others when feeling down, hopeless and stuck, but that is when asking for help is most important. Sharing what is troubling us, or asking for help, means that we expose our vulnerability and we are often concerned that that vulnerability may be interpreted by others as weakness. But this is not true.
It takes courage to speak up, particularly for many men, and those on the land are courageous in many ways but not always when it comes to talking about feelings.
Something needs to change. Sometimes the best thing we can do to support someone we’re concerned about is to find an opportunity to engage them in a deeper conversation. It can help if you are able to honestly voice your own concerns and worries first. In doing this you give the other person permission to do the same.
The quote, “No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of a continent” by John Donne is fitting as it means that humans, being naturally social beings, do not thrive when isolated from others.
Who do you need to reach out to?
Those on the land are courageous in many ways but not always when it comes to talking about feelings.
Rowena Hardy is a facilitator, performance coach and partner of Minds Aligned: www.mindsaligned.com.au
As John Donne wrote, ‘no man is an island’, and isolation can exacerbate hopelessness and depression.