Cam modeling can be an emotional rollercoaster. As cam model Nikki Night once stated in a Forbes magazine interview, “When you’re in front of that audience, there’s such a high, and there’s such an energy … you’re laughing, you’re meeting people and then all of a sudden, your show’s over, you close your computer and it’s just like the silence is almost deafening.”
Having a community of online supporters in the best of times is socially satisfying; you are on fire, you feel entertaining and connected, and you’re making money.
You are more likely to blame yourself for a slow day when you feel lonely.
Other times, you just feel alone, bored and dejected. Your attempts to engage your viewers are declined. People might view your stream, look and leave without saying a word. Often viewers drop off without explanation. Each exit can feel like a personal rejection. Cam modeling requires a strong will to connect, but the medium can leave you feeling isolated.
A Little Social Brain Science
All emotions are motivators. Each emotion is a cocktail of neurochemicals that motivates us to survive and thrive. We are social beings and require human connection. Lonely feelings in small doses are useful because they motivate us to forge meaningful connections.
However, loneliness is not a straightforward emotion. While lonely feelings urge us to connect, they also trigger our fear of rejection. This fear intensifies the longer we feel isolated, increasing our self-doubt and sensitivity. Lonely feelings can spiral, making us more self-centered, defensive and judgmental. As a result, others are less inclined to connect with us, increasing our sense of isolation.
What to Do When We Feel Lonely at Work
Loneliness, in part, is due to the lack of oxytocin (the cuddly love hormone) in our brains. When our brain is depleted of it, we crave connection. We also become more sensitive and less resilient to rejection. Fortunately, we can top up our levels of oxytocin. If you start feeling lonely on cam, take a few minutes to replenish your oxytocin levels. Here’s how:
Connect with someone you care about.
Tapping into a supportive relationship, even with just a short phone call, can release bursts of oxytocin and other soothing neurochemicals into the brain.
Hug someone or cuddle a fur-baby.
A 20-second full-body hug releases oxytocin in the brain. Cuddling a pet triggers similar positive feelings. Even cuddling a favorite stuffed animal can create a sense of well-being. Basically, if you feel love for it, cuddle it!
Get a cam buddy.
Lola Davina of “Thriving in Sex Work” recommends buddying up with a colleague. Agree to call each other for emotional support or distraction when you are having an off day:
“One dear friend of mine is the best at this — whenever I’m in crisis, she doesn’t try to be a mind reader. She simply asks, ‘What do you need from me right now?’ A reality check? Reassurance? Advice? A shoulder to cry on? Active, loving listening? The best way to get the help you crave is to tell people what you need. Don’t assume they know, don’t make them guess.”
Be someone’s super-awesome support. Or reach out whenever you are feeling low.
In addition to psychotherapy and coaching, Pineapple Support offers emotional support in the form of 24-hour peer-to-peer chat. You can volunteer any hours that are convenient for you and be an awesome support to your peers. Kind actions not only top up oxytocin, they also elevate levels of endorphins and dopamine, the body’s natural painkillers and stress relievers. Connect with your peers and tap into that network of super-awesome Pineapple Support just for you.
What To Do When You Feel Lonely Most Of The Time
Our lives can be crazy-busy with work and fans, yet we still feel lonely. As Brené Brown put it, “I often feel loneliest when I am with other people.” This is because the quantity of our social connections is not as important as the quality of them.
We crave meaningful connection on three levels: intimate relationships, friends and family and the wider community. If we feel isolated from any one of these levels, we can experience loneliness. Though loneliness can cause us emotional pain, pain does not have to equal suffering. Isolation is painful, but feeling rejected and self-blame is what makes us suffer.
We may not be able to control our loneliness, but we can tackle the other self-defeating thoughts, feelings and beliefs that arise when we are lonely. Here is how:
Identify the thoughts and beliefs triggered by lonely feelings.
Loneliness makes us prone to rumination or fixating on a thought or belief such as, “I am not good enough.” Rumination can be so subtle that we don’t notice we are doing it. When you start to feel lonely, take note of what you are feeling and thinking.
Reality check your thoughts and beliefs.
Separate thoughts that are constructive (“Perhaps I should change my hours”) from negative self-talk (“I am not good enough” or “I am too…”). Ask yourself, “Am I distorting the facts (exaggerating, mind-reading, fortune-telling) based on my fear?” You can use the free app MoodTools Thought Diary to reality-check your negative perceptions.
Change your feelings.
Remind yourself that feelings of rejection and self-doubt are amplified when you feel lonely. Then follow these tips.
Feeling Rejected? Create Helpful Stories About Your Clients
We are sense-making beings. When your stream is quiet, you want to know why. But you are more likely to blame yourself for a slow day when you feel lonely. And you are more likely to feel lonely when you blame yourself.
It is easy to get bogged down by negative self-talk when you are trying to troubleshoot a slow period. You can blame it on your outfit or the five pounds you gained. But, in reality, we don’t know why viewers act the way they do.
Negative assumptions not only wear you down, they do nothing to bring those viewers back. So choose to make sense of the situation in a less damaging way. Cam model Melissa Sweet (@MelissaSweet1_) creates alternative stories about ghosting viewers. For example, “They were too shy, too busy or too broke to stay and pay.’’ Make up whatever stories help you stay resilient.
Feeling Self-Doubt? Practice Radical Acceptance.
Radical acceptance means that we don’t try to change anything; rather we accept ourselves exactly how we are in this moment. Perhaps the hardest part of this exercise is accepting that so much of the viewers’ behavior is outside of your control. You may not be able to control whether your stream is busy, but you can control how you react to it.
Radical Acceptance is Reminding Yourself Every Day: You Are Fabulous. You Are Loved. You Are Doing Your Best.
Acceptance is not a one-time occurrence. We choose acceptance this moment and then we choose acceptance when we start to struggle and then we choose it again. Radical acceptance is often much harder in practice than it sounds, but it is your best bet for stopping the loneliness spiral and building resilience in the industry.
Remember, if you feel overwhelmed or just need to connect with someone, Pineapple Support is here for you. Contact us at PineappleSupport.com.
Jena Field is a coach, therapist and psychology journalist who works with Pineapple Support and can be followed at TheMonkeyTherapist.com, on Twitter @monkeytherapist or on Facebook.com/Jennifer.Field.1000. Visit PineappleSupport.com for more resources.