Did you ever care about something or someone and then sh*t happened and you got hurt? What was the first thought that came through your mind in that moment? Was it something similar to “I’m not doing this ever again”?
It seems that whenever we get hurt physically or mentally by something or someone, we tend to drift towards this “never again” area. This is an adaptive response we developed over the years to keep us from getting hurt and it’s normal. It’s an evolutionary thing. We’ve learned it both by doing stuff and by seeing others doing stuff because our survival depended on it. If a caveman tried to pet a sabretooth tiger for the first time and the tiger ate that person, other cavemen noticed and they didn’t try to pet sabretooth tigers ever again. They avoided it.
When it comes to mental, things are not that easy because whatever hurts one person, it might not hurt another so we cannot learn to avoid things as easily as we did it with physical danger. This is also a big blocker in our path towards showing empathy because if we cannot understand the reason behind someone’s pain, we cannot be empathic with that person. So we need to experience things ourselves.
We tend to avoid whatever gets us hurt because we don’t want to feel that pain again. It is a defence mechanism we have for keeping us safe. The problem with this is that we live in a world where anything can hurt us. A word can do more damage than a knife so if we got hurt by that word once, we’ll tend to avoid anything associated to that word. This is how some phobias are created. We avoid that pain and we get anxious whenever we encounter that word/situation/person/sabretooth tiger. The more things that hurt us there are, the more anxious we become and because of it, we tend to isolate ourselves so we don’t get hurt anymore.
Since the physical isolation is not quite that possible, we tend to apply the psychological one. We hide behind sarcasm and bad jokes. We get shy. We tend to keep a distance between us and the people around us. Basically, we’re trying to raise some big mental walls so no one can get to us and this way we think we’re going to be safe.
Although this isolation thing might seem to be a great strategy, there are some risks here. We ask for isolation and we’re getting isolation. Once we try to open up, there might not be anyone there to help us because we just pushed everyone away with our walls. When it comes the time for us to receive some help, no one will be there to offer that help just because they don’t care anymore. They raised some walls too when it comes to us. If we start and hold a long term isolation, we’ll receive long term isolation and it all started from some pain.
Do you isolate yourself after you get hurt? How do people around you tend to behave when you do it?