Social distancing is today’s virus preventative of choice. Keeping our distance physically from those who are sick can protect us from acquiring a virus. There is another kind of distancing that when practiced smothers opportunity. I am calling it emotional distancing.
When social distancing, we stand 6’ apart, and often we wear a mask to protect those we might infect. Those who emotionally distance themselves by masking emotions think they are preventing embarrassment and thwarting rejection. The emotional distancers almost certainly guarantee failed connections.
It is essential to understand that the opposite of emotional distancing is not wrongly targeted, vengeance motivated, unrestrained, and unfiltered expressions. The opposite of emotional distancing is well-timed and thoughtful exposure of true feelings with those we value in life. When we emotionally distance ourselves from those with whom we should build meaningful connections, we spread the “alienation virus,” whose primary symptom is loneliness.
In risking emotional exposure, we cultivate the high-quality connections that real and lasting friendships produce. If at the right time, with the right person, and in the right place, I take the risk of sharing what is going on inside, great friendship opportunities find opportunity. Be warned; there is risk involved with sharing. We may be rejected, belittled, or ignored. But, if we fail to try, we assure failure to experience a meaningful connection.