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The Danger of Isolating Yourself Too Long

By: Brian Kim - August 8, 2010

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We all know extremes are bad things.

Hang out with people all the time, might be good for some time, but over the long haul, not such a good thing.

You cease focusing on yourself and your future and you find that you lose part of your own identity as you feel more and more pressure to become part of the crowd.

The flip side is true as well.

Time for yourself is a GREAT thing in this day and age. It’s almost considered a luxury.

To just unplug. Just you and your mind, sitting on a bench overlooking a lake in a forest, no cars or airplanes, just you and nature, just you and the water and the mallard ducks, and maybe a pen and paper to jot down your thoughts.

A serene picture so many fantasize about.

But once you have that opportunity or something of that nature, it can get a bit addicting and you can easily isolate yourself too long and that’s where things can start working against you.

First thing that starts working against you?

It’s WAY too easy to get lost in your own head running around in circles.

You spend so much time up there, you don’t DO anything. All you do is think.

And the thing is – your thinking can only take you so far before you go around in circles because you’re only working with the material you have, the knowledge you’ve gained, the perspectives you can see – not all the other knowledge that’s out there and all the other perspectives.

You lose out on all the social input you get, however ridiculous it may be, from other people who have different knowledge and viewpoints that when mixed with yours can spark an idea that will move you to action.

There’s only so much “mental material” to work with when you’re by yourself. Stay that way too long and there’s no way you can grow.

The second thing you miss out on is one of the biggest building blocks of happiness. Think back to most of your happiest memories and you’ll undoubtedly find it was with other people, just talking, maybe sharing an adventure, or doing something together.

Make no mistake. We are social creatures. There is an intangible need that socializing fills that we can’t quite articulate yet but we know after we do it, that most of the time, we are glad we did it. We’re better off because of it.

We come home with a glow, a renewed zest for life, energy, plans for the future, and a hunger filled that we didn’t know existed.

The third thing that starts working against you is that you fall into the trap of just thinking about yourself. You never get outside yourself. It’s always about your problems, what you’re trying to achieve, what you want to do, just you, you, you. It’s important to take stock of one’s life but if you get too wrapped up in you, you forget about those around you.

Getting back in touch with people is a great way to just take a breather from you, to not think about what’s going on with you, but with other people. Take it a step further, it’s an opportunity to help others and inevitably, in some way shape or form, doing so will come back to help the issues you’re dealing with in ways you never expect and will always surprise you.

I write this because being by yourself for long periods of time is one of the sneakiest traps of self improvement. It’s one of the pitfalls many people don’t see because it’s so damn easy to get into. Self improvement is a great adventure and its very nature warrants a significant chunk of your personal time devoted to becoming the best you can be and achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself. The progress you make in the beginning is fast and because it is, it becomes exciting and you want it to continue, so you keep things the way they are but crank up the speed, but you inevitably hit a plateau when things aren’t as good as they were before and that’s when you realize – you were isolating yourself for too long.

Solitude is a great thing. So is socializing. Too much of both can start working against you though.

Never forget to balance the two and in doing so, you’ll find you’ll be able to extract the very best from both sides of the fence.

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