Happiness and contentment…can be experienced only by the individual and not by a State, which…continually threatens to paralyze and suppress the individual. ~ C.G. Jung
As you begin your solitude practice, you may encounter some resistance from your partner.
That resistance could be coming from two places. First, there’s an aversion to one’s mate going off to do his own thing. Second, your partner may feel jealous. Behind the aversion and jealousy is the possible translation of “I need some time alone” to “I need to be away from you.”
Initially, your partner may feel rejected and wonder what he or she did wrong to send you away.
Keep in mind that both types of resistance come from ingrained behavior that was originally designed to protect us in the big scary world out there—a Darwinian concept based on safety in numbers. Stay close to the group and you’ll be safe from predators. Go it alone and you might get killed.
Sticking with the crowd—and being accepted by it—ensured our ongoing existence.
However, over the last century, mental health professionals have learned that blindly following the masses often leads to misery in later life. We become psychological automatons, never tapping into and honoring our individual selves. In some cases, not even knowing we have an individual self beyond the I-being which is separate from the You-being.
We have a conscious knowledge that we are as unique as a snowflake; it’s a common theme we learn as early as grade school. Yet as we face our mortality, we realize that we have done nothing to even remotely celebrate that uniqueness.
We don’t need to create monuments or cure diseases. But we do need to take Deepak Chopra’s advice to not think out of the box, but get rid of the box entirely.
In his book, The Undiscovered Self, depth psychologist Carl Jung refers to this necessary breaking from the crowd as “individuation.” By taking time for yourself, you are individuating. You are establishing a self that will be the bedrock of all you do and all you are for the rest of your life.
This brings up another, unconscious form of jealousy your partner may be experiencing: resentment over the loving attention you’re giving yourself.
Your self-celebration sets off a feeling of loss as she looks at the lack of self-celebration in her own life. Believe it or not, this feeling is a tremendous gift. Darkness merely points out a lack of light. You can actually help your loved one turn on her inner light and overcome feelings of discomfort about you taking time for yourself.
The easiest way to do that is to be honest. Explain to your partner why taking up a solitude practice is so important. Give a gentle reminder that this is not an act of isolation, but rather a refreshing of your soul’s energies so that you can be more revitalized for yourself and everyone around you.
Above all, remind your partner that a solitude practice is not exclusive. Suggest that he might benefit from time some alone time as well. Share the wealth.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman