Things My Dog Taught Me: Balance Your Independence and the Need to be with Others

My dog is fiercely  independent.  It is bred into Shar Peis.  They don’t like a lot of affection.  They don’t like to be “messed with”.  She doesn’t like us to fool with her feet or face.  Even when she is with us, she usually has her back to us in case she needs a quick get away.  Too much petting or attention and she is out of there.  But there are times when she needs to be with me and my wife.  During those times, she actually herds us into one place.  If my wife and I are in separate parts of the house, she will bark at me until the three of us are together.

We all need those quiet times alone, but we also need that connection with other people.  That goes for most people, including introverts.  I understand that introverts get their energy from that alone time and extroverts get their energy from being with people.  But both need solitude and group therapy at times.

Don’t be afraid to ask for you alone time and don’t be afraid to cultivate those connections with groups.  They are both vital for your health and well being.  Solitude gives us a chance to reflect and be alone with our thoughts.  And being with others gives us encouragement, opportunities, and knowledge.  My dog has taught me that you need both at different times and you must make the effort to balance these two parts of yourself.  This is very difficult with the demands of work, family and personal time.  And most of the time, we sacrifice ourselves for our work and family.  This isn’t a very good strategy.  Remember, put your own oxygen mask on first before you help others.

So whether you  are an introvert or extrovert, cultivate both independence and being with others.  Extroverts will likely have to work a little harder on the solitude part and introverts will have to work harder on being with others.  I work with a lot of technical folks who prefer their independence over being on teams.  They have to work hard at cultivating their interpersonal skills and the ability to work with others effectively.  But in collaborative fields like construction, those skills are vital to their success.


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