De­serted and down

Liv­ing in iso­la­tion is chal­leng­ing and it takes courage to reach out

The Morning Bulletin - - MIND - WITH Rowena Hardy Rowena Hardy is a fa­cil­i­ta­tor, per­for­mance coach and part­ner of Minds Aligned: www.mind­saligned.com.au

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.

As John Donne wrote, ‘no man is an is­land’, and iso­la­tion can ex­ac­er­bate hope­less­ness and de­pres­sion.

PHOTO: ISTOCK

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