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Question: In my work place, where colleagues form social cliques, I try to be myself, ending up as a loner who feels vulnerable. What should I do?

Answer: Formation of cliques is natural. You do not have to join only a specific one though. It is good to remember that to avoid negative politicking does not mean to avoid people on the whole. To feel less like a loner, remember that in Buddhist practice, there are only the three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion to reject (instead of people with them, unless they are too harmful for now), while we are encouraged to nurture their respective antidotes of generosity, compassion (with loving-kindness) and wisdom. As long as you keep yourself free of the poisons and cultivate more of the antidotes, you should do alright.

While there is no point in trying to be ourselves if we are still filled with the poisons, it is with interaction with others that we can best express the antidotes, in the quest to better ourselves and to inspire others to better themselves too. To all equanimously, why not sincerely smile more, say and do the appropriate at the right time, which need not be too much at all, while keeping your heart and mind as pure as you can? Not only will you feel less like a vulnerable loner, others will see you to be confident and warm with the ideal measures too.

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