Independence Does Not Mean Isolation


I often refer to myself as a fiercely independent person. I tend to prefer working alone. I am an introvert who recharges by being by herself. This tendency comes in part from being a member of a large family. It always felt like I had 6 parents instead of 2 (my 4 older siblings all feel largely responsible for raising me). And it is hard to please that many people and to live up to that many expectations. If I instead operate outside of those expectations, and keep to myself, I am much happier.

The trouble comes when I use my preference for independence as an excuse to isolate myself. This happens a lot in social situations. I will be invited to join some gathering and, rather than participate, I avoid it. I am an incredibly reluctant leader. Any position I was ever given was not my first choice and I made that clear. In fact, I am so prone to doing this that my friends are often surprised to learn that I was president of my sorority. “But you hate people!” is their reaction.

Now, I don’t think I am a full on misanthrope. I don’t hate people. I am often annoyed by them. But who among us isn’t annoyed by other people?

Anyway, the point is that I have made isolating myself a habit. It is such a strong habit that I have begun confusing it with my true nature. In Yoga, we learn about samskaras or the deep impressions we create through repeated actions. They influence our future actions as we repeatedly choose the same path. The way that we begin to change these impressions is by making choices that re-pattern our lives.

This is a huge undertaking especially when it comes to the deepest impressions in our brains. Like my habit of isolating myself, the habits that we have accepted as personality traits can be the most difficult to change. When it comes to making progress in re-patterning you should start small. We (meaning all of humanity, anyone who tried to create a good habit) know the best way to make positive change in our lives is by going incrementally, seeing progress, and then building upon that progress. If we try to tackle the biggest issues, and fail, we might not try again.

So how am I going to be less of an isolationist if I see as part of who I am? Well, I am going to start by saying yes. I will say yes to lunch. I will say yes to coffee. And then, we shall see.