Continuing with part 4 of the five-part series on what my Cov 19 playlist has to say about thriving in tough times, I’m going to focus on staying connected: (1) overcoming the internal barriers to seeking help; and (2) trust and communication.

Everyone knows how important it is to stay connected with others right now and you don’t need me to tell you why that’s a good idea. If anyone can find me a positive song about Isolation (Joy Division) or why Only The Lonely are having a good time right now, please send me a Message In A Bottle (The Police). We don’t always do what we know would help us. What can make opening up to others or asking for help hard? Two things spring to mind – what we are like and how much trust there is.

Thing that can get in the way 1: ourselves

Remember The Sound Of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel)? It comes to mind not only because it’s a fair description of Woking town centre at the moment, but because under severe stress I find there are two kinds of people: those who withdraw and go silent and those who reach out to others. I have a foot in both the reach out and keep quiet camps. I’m an extravert by nature so my instinct is to reach out. I learnt caution from some individuals, experiences and environments. If you’re happy that way, great. If you’re in the quiet camp you may be the suffering silent majority, who knows – you’re not telling. If you’re struggling, I’ve never seen medals handed out to those who suffered in silence most stoically.

Takeaway if reaching out is an issue: A different perspective is so valuable – you may see the crescent - they may see The Whole Of The Moon (The Waterboys). I prescribe listening to any three of the songs below three times a day before meals and chewing over what names these lyrics bring to mind: ‘I'm still your friend when you are in need’, ‘In high seas or in low seas I'll be by your side’, ‘I know what you're thinking - you're alone now, no love of your own - but darling, reach out’, ‘Your life's a mystery, mine is an open book. If I could read your mind, I think I'd take a look - I don't care, I'm not scared.’

Like many extraverts I’m getting a big smile on my face from the increased contact at the moment. I’m married to an introvert and I see the other view. Either way, what harm could it do to jot down the people who meet these criteria and get in touch: (1) they are friendly towards you; (2) they give more than they take; and (3) you feel better for having talked to them. A word of warning - from my experience competition and deep friendship have as much in common as Black Lace and Black Sabbath, so maybe leave the point scorers and negativity transmitters more to themselves if you’re looking for a caring ear.

Thing that can get in the way 2: trust and communication issues

If you’re seen as someone who it is safe to call (because you keep perspective, handle the information sensitively and have a track record of high integrity action), then the only other major blocker is communication – insufficient or not clear enough. And Simon & Garfunkel were onto something with that line about hearing without listening – deep listening is amazingly powerful. Healing even.

Takeaway if you know someone who’s isolated – or have the slightest suspicion may be: reach out, reach out, reach out, reach out, reach out……

Other songs

For You, Electronic 

High Tide And Low Tide, Bob Marley

If I Should Fall Behind, Bruce Springsteen

I’m Not Scared, Eighth Wonder

Lean On Me, Bill Withers

Love Can Move Mountains, The Proclaimers – just maybe the best song of all time

Ring Ring and S.O.S., Abba

Together Alone, Crowded House

You’ve Got A Friend In Me, Randy Newman