8. Playing Solitaire

Good morning and welcome to your eighth meditation. Our social relationships are a fundamental part of all our lives. Whether they are with family, friends, colleagues, lovers, or acquaintances, we depend on these connections for plenty of practical concerns as well as for the maintenance of our emotional well-being. The acquisition of food, shelter, clothing, and money generally all require at least some minimal social interaction. And how indispensable to human life are shared moments of joy and laughter and sadness, of warmth and emotional support, of love!

But we humans are not simply social animals. We have another side that requires respect and attention. This is the side of us that is solitary, introspective, reflective, and quiet. Some of us need to dedicate more time to this side than others, and that is a perfectly natural fact and should incur no judgment. Unfortunately, however, society tends to look down on solitude. We are all indoctrinated to a certain degree to believe that there is something wrong or defective in the need for it. And this kind of makes sense if you think about it. The word society comes from the same root as social. Society’s very existence depends on people working, living, being together. But our human needs are not strictly confined to the needs of the group as would appear to be the case with bees or ants. We are individuals who require time apart. So respect this non-social need in yourself. And likewise respect it in others. Talk about it. A great way to destigmatize something is simply to talk openly about it. There will be friends who will misunderstand your need. They may feel hurt by it, interpreting your desire for solitude as a negative. They may say, “Why don’t you want to hang out with me? Why are you ignoring me?”. But imagine the reverse scenario where you are excited to see those same friends. When you ask them to get together nobody would ever say, “Why don’t you want to be alone? Why are you ignoring yourself?”. Yet both tendencies – to want to be social and to want to be solitary – are equally natural and valid. It’s not easy to overcome the judgment of loved ones and of society in general. Our own self-care sometimes requires that others are momentarily disappointed or even upset with us. But they will get over it. Especially if they truly care about you, they’ll get over it. And you will be happier and healthier and a better family member, friend, colleague, lover, or member of your community because of it. So take the time you need for yourself. You won’t regret it.

Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.

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