Many of us have thought about what it takes to become a more independent person. Independence is really taking ownership of your personal actions. By putting things to the side, or relying on others to do things for you, you’re losing your motivation and most importantly, you’re damaging your confidence. But why is this?
First of all, by relying on other people to do everything for you, you’re sending your self the message that you’re not good enough—but other people are. It’s easy to fall into the trap of dependence in our current lives.
For every job, there’s someone to do it for us and we become dependent on that fact. This also has the effect of limiting our skill set and takes away the satisfaction of getting the job done. In more developed countries we can see this to a much greater effect.
Let’s take a look at a worse case scenario — Imagine you wake up in a world with no electricity.
How would you operate?
With electric cookers you’d have no way of making a warm meal. With electric heating you’d have no way of keeping warm. How would you wash your clothes, light your house, get most of the simple tasks you take for granted done?
The most striking aspect here is a huge portion of the population live like this on a daily basis. But they know how to manage because they have to.
The chances of this happening are slim but hold on to that feeling of hopelessness you felt.
Being an Independent Person is Being a Resourceful Person
It’s trusting that you’ll find a solution to any problem. However, most of us don’t flex these resourceful muscles and never get a chance to fully develop them. We live in a world where delegation is celebrated. Where those at the top rely on a number of people to make their jobs easier for them.
This isn’t to say that it’s a bad way of operating—this is how the world works. However, there is no reason for developing certain skills outside of the office. Believe me when I say they will cross over and benefit you there as well.
How to Become an Independent Person?
Well, how often do you hear yourself say you can’t do something just because it’s new to you?
Let’s say you’ve never cooked before. You rely on others, dining out, or ordering food in. That’s the extent of your culinary knowledge. Someone asks you if you can cook and straight away you say no. But have you ever tried?
Being presented with something new doesn’t mean you can’t do it, or can learn how to. It just means that you haven’t yet tried. But the chances are if you did and practiced, you could become very good at it. So keeping with the current example, you pick up a beginner’s cook book and decide to try and cook one of the twenty meals in it a week.
Initially you find it difficult. Measurements go over your head, food splatters across the walls, but at the end you still have your dish and what do you know, it’s pretty good! By the end of the twenty weeks you’ve cooked every meal and picked five favorites that you’re going to stick with. Now who can’t cook?
See how fast it can be to pick something up?
By no means would you call yourself a chef. However, if someone asks you can you cook, what’s you answer going to be now? Becoming an independent person takes time, but it starts with the decision to do so. That’s all it takes.
When someone asks you can you do something, or if you’d like to try something new, try to switch your initial response from no, to that might be fun!
Managing your Fears
There are many ways to become more independent and, like silencing the inner critic, it mostly comes down to managing your fears. Being independent and trying new things means you’ll need to have a good grasp on working with your critic as per the exercises mentioned in that article. However, that’s not all there is to it.
One of the biggest ways you become more independent is by catching yourself saying no to people. Particularly when they ask you if you want to try something new or different. Think of the reasons you’re turning the offer down and see are they rational. Or is it just fear holding you back?
This deals with external factors of independence, but we still have a lot of work to do on ourselves.
Think of the week ahead and all the tasks you need to do but have been putting off. Maybe it’s going to the bank, having to get a pair of trousers taken up, and getting your boiler looked at.
Know What You’re Capable Of
First of all, look at the tasks and identify the ones you can do yourself.
The first task has to be done by you, the second one has options, but the third you need to get a professional to do. Being independent isn’t about doing everything yourself. Rather, it’s about knowing what you can do, or what you can learn.
For the first task, you put a note in your diary to run to the bank on your lunch break. For the last task you look up a registered person to look at your boiler and write down a time to call them.
Now the second task—taking up your trousers. Here you have two options. You can bring them into a tailor and pay to have them taken up, or you can learn how to do it yourself.
The second one has merit, perhaps you’re a little vertically challenged and this particular skill could be a real money saver going forward. You make the decision to learn how to do it yourself, watch a lot of videos online, and write a list of the equipment you’ll need to get it done.
Being proactive, making these to-do lists, and teaching yourself new skills is paramount to building your independence.
The Not-So-Helpful Helper
The last thing we need to look out for is over-bearing people who mean well, but are limiting your independence. If you think about it, you probably have at least one of these people in your life.
They’re quick to offer their help or occasionally when something happens that needs to be addressed, they’ll imply that it’s a task that could never be done by you and it’s best to leave it to them.
On these occasions it’s important to learn how to be assertive. (We’ll be looking at this in detail in another article). It’s perfectly fine to turn someone down when they offer you their help. If they tell you that you can’t do something, kindly let them know that might be the case now but you plan on learning.
Better yet, get them to show you how it’s done so you can learn.
Stop Being Helpless
Being an independent person means you lose the feeling of helplessness when stuck in certain situations.
Alarmingly, many people wouldn’t know what to do if they got a flat tire. They’d have to sit on the side of the road and wait for someone to come and help them. This isn’t a difficult task and by taking the time to learn how to do this at home before it happens in real time, you could save yourself a lot of time, money, and worry.
There are many examples of this that we take for granted. Regular occurrences that could leave us stranded. So, instead of waiting for it to happen and rely on someone else to help you, take the time to learn the skills so you can be ready.
This isn’t to say you can do everything. Take the boiler for example—there are some tasks that need professionals. But I bet if you really thought about it, you could name several tasks you previously relied on people to do, that you could in fact do yourself with a little practice.
Keep in mind that knowing you can rely on yourself in tricky situations gives a serious boost to your confidence. Your feeling of self-worth grows rapidly when you learn a new task and see it in action.
The purpose here is not to distance yourself from others, it’s to get closer to yourself and by knowing what you’re capable of, that becomes a whole lot easier.