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Issue #8: Island Isolation: Breaking Free for Connection

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“It’s easier just to go at it alone, to lone wolf it, to remain on an island”

 

This is a quick note to any men who feel like it’s safer and easier just to be alone, to put yourself on an island, to just shut off your feelings. Not let anyone in, keep everyone at arm’s length.

It’s a common one for NICE GUYS – as the desire to avoid rejection and being hurt runs so much of the Nice Guys life.

 

It might seem easier in the short term.

 

But the thing about an island is that it can feel safe – away from the risk of those who would harm you or try to take your freedom, perhaps.

Those who might invade the ‘safety’ of your island.

 

But it isolates you from the rest of the world.

 

And you might be thinking, “yeah, yeah, exactly; that’s safe. Duh” – but by definition this is saying:

“It’s safe purely because I can’t be hurt by others because I can’t be accessed by others”

 

Not only are you actually denying the largest part of you, the human, which is love, connection to and relationships with other humans, but you’re choosing to hide away from the risk of being hurt.

 

Risk of being hurt, risk of suffering and discomfort – these are the prices of admission for love. Shit, for being a human.

 

You – we all – are better than that.

 

And trust me, I’ve been there – in my early to mid 20’s I spent a lot of time on an island I created.

 

Convincing myself it was better – I could have ‘fun’ but not have to deal with what can come with deeper intimacy; hurt.

 

Sure, I had plenty of people around me, in my vicinity, even in close intimacy with me – but it was still a controlled arm’s length.

My heart and humanness were wrapped tightly in a box no one could get to.

 

And I’ve seen this many times. I recall a coaching student from the ELA program, Matt – married with teenage kids. Unsure why he was feeling the way he was; stuck, lost, disconnected from himself and others, lonely even – despite having his wife in his corner.

 

When he joined us he was so deeply fearful of being hurt, of being abandoned. He feared this would confirm a deeply held belief that he was not loveable, not good enough.

So, he closed off access to his heart. He kind of let them in. He loved on an island. All the while making it appear that he was on the mainland.

 

He thought he was safe there, away from hurt. but ultimately, he was hurting right there. On that island of his own creation.

 

Instead of having access to love, connection, intimacy, and joy, he had convinced himself that it was safer to be in a kind of neutral nothingness just in case he was hurt.

 

And we do this – missing that we are creating a low-level suffering all of our own.

 

There’s a quote I love from Niccolo Machiavelli that applies in many areas of life, including this one. He said:

“Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.”

 

Matt was developing the strength to suffer in isolation. A strength that doesn’t have a meaningful and rewarding payoff.

 

And that’s what I did for many years as a younger man. FULL of justifications.

 

And that’s what we must do; justify.

 

We have to justify where we are, our choices, and our isolation, so can make it seem like a brave thing. Convince ourselves it’s about being self-reliant and self-sufficient.

 

And those things can grow, sure.

But the major result is the isolation of your heart along with the self-deception that comes as we convince ourselves it’s all about ‘self-reliance and not about trying to reduce the risk of being hurt by others.

 

But the man who does that only serves to justify the island, making the bridge to connection (and humanness) even further away.

We must make the loneliness seem palpable.

 

Yet, in my experience, this way of being and justifying the island is usually accompanied by a number of numbing and distracting behaviours, all serving to amplify self-deception and avoidance.

 

Ranging from porn, booze, drugs – the classic whipping boys for destructive and numbing behaviours – through to work, exercise, constant achievement and busyness.

 

Doesn’t matter how you dress it up, if its job is to distract you from the shit you’re not facing, or an attempt to create a false sense of worth and worthiness, it ain’t serving you.

 

When in truth, what this creates is further disconnection from your own heart. Which is the first step to actually connecting with others. And being able to handle heartbreak.

 

The risk of being hurt is the price of admission for real love, connection, and intimacy – touching the very heart of our humanness.

 

And in case you needed to hear it – you can handle being hurt. And upset.

Sure, it might be such a bunch of dirty gym socks, but you can handle it.

 

And you are worthy of, deserve, and get to experience deep love connection and joy with other humans.

 

Even if you don’t believe that right now, isolating yourself won’t change that. It might feel like it protects you from others knowing it or proving it, but it doesn’t.

 

My suggestion is to find people who you do feel safe around, you are supportive and loving and empathetic, and who care about you.

Find people who can and will build you up, encourage you and challenge you lovingly to step bolding into this work and more deeply into yourself.

 

This has singlehandedly been the most impactful thing in my life. As it was for Matt. The shift for him was IMMENSE. Letting his wife fully in, the kids, the connections that have come from that, the lightness in him, the depth, the joy – so fucking great to witness.

 

And that is possible for you. Single or in a relationship – the work is yours.

 

And you get to do that.

 

So, if you have ever felt curious about doing some of this work yourself, and about my work, about stepping into your depths and your potential in life and love, now is your chance.

 

PUTTING YOUR HAND UP IS NOT A COMMITMENT NOR OBLIGATION – it’s an opportunity to see if it can be the epic fit for you like Matt and hundreds of other men.