Balancing isolation and cooperation

If you are alone, learn to be with others; if your are with others, learn to be alone.  Photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash

Humans vary massively in their attitude to collaboration and cooperation.  Some like to stay as isolated as possible, remaining as far as possible in charge of their own activities.  And some, at the other end of the scale, like to stay as close to others as possible, finding reassurance in the fact that others are sharing the burden.

It is not wrong that different people have different preferences.  You will know your own preference.  But what is helpful, is to develop the skill of knowing when to stay more isolated, and when to cooperate with others.


Staying on our own has many benefits.  In particular:

  • we can gain greater focus on individual tasks such as meditation, personal study and creative work
  • we learn to be alone with ourselves, so that if alone in future, we will not be upset
  • we gain relief from the effort of social negotiation and exchange


Equally, being with others has many benefits.  In particular:

  • we can achieve things which are not possible for one person to achieve alone
  • we learn to be with others, so that if socialising in future, we will not get upset
  • we gain relief from the mental difficulties that being alone creates for us


Reading the above, you may instinctively graduate towards on or other extreme, either preferring to be on your own, or preferring to be in the company of others.  Whatever your bias, you will tend to be more blind to the advantages of the opposite extreme.  Loners may justify being alone, and socialites may justify socialisation.  This is natural.  We like finding arguments which align with our way of being.  It means we don’t have to move!


But if an individual wants to grow, they will have to find ways to depart from their existing range of movement.  If someone’s behaviour stays the same through their whole life, can they be said to develop?  If a tree stays a sapling, can it be said to mature?

If you notice you tend towards one extreme, why not consider how you might make your life more subtle by incorporating the other?  Loners can learn to socialise; socialites can learn to be alone.  Having a wider range of behaviour available to us, enhances our flexibility.RELO 20180125 Remindful logo transparent bg


What are my social preferences?

Do I like to stay on my own, indulging in personal activities without distractions?

Do I like to be with others, enjoying the lighter burden of shared activity?

Do I seek to justify my way, and ignore other ways?

How can I develop?

If naturally social, what can I Iearn from time alone?

If naturally preferring to be alone, what can I learn from collaborating with others?