What is Independence?
This may seem like an easy question, but what does it mean for each person? It is more
complicated than simply being comfortable with being alone or being an assertive person. More than the need to not have to ask for help or having to rely on others. In America, we are independent in the sense of democracy and each individual having the freedoms to live their own life free from basic oppression. In this sense of the word, are you free to live your life as you choose? Is there someone or something oppressing you, or is it yourself keeping you from leading the life you want?
Some may think, this is a coming of age rite of passage. That when
we turn 18, move away for college, or start our own life we immediately become
independent. While we are physically separated from those we once depended on, did we create the skills necessary to develop and maintain our independence? Are we still living in the comforts of this place and have not yet challenged our independence because our fears are holding us back? Are you self-dependent?
The process is ever evolving. We shape our independence and develop self-dependence by how we view ourselves and how we feel about ourselves. We in turn act as a result of these views and feelings in ways that move us closer or further away from self-dependence.
We have all heard and have likely completed a pros and cons list at some point in our lives to see if we are making the right decision or to help us navigate through difficult ones. Taking it a step further, have you thought about how we choose to live our lives and how others impact us by asking yourself, “how are my behaviors costing me?” In other words, are you feeling stuck in a place in your life where you cannot assert yourself or find your identity? What is keeping you in that place and relationship? Are you minimizing your independence because of low self-confidence or fear of consequences? This is a normal way of thinking and behaving, as humans tend to move towards pleasure and away from fear. Its survival! What if moving into fear and overcoming it successfully helps build independence. Would that motivate you to move toward your fears?
Creating a cost/benefit analysis asks you to challenge how your behaviors are costing you and how you can benefit from change. For example, are you afraid to move out of your parent’s house, or staying in a dead-end relationship, or fear taking a challenging job or applying to college? How might staying in this place cost you? It may cost you a life of living in fear, having to rely on others to support you, and giving away your power. If you assess the benefits you may say, well I can stay at home because it is comfortable, or I do not have to experience loneliness if leaving a relationship, or I spare the possibility of rejection if I do not apply to a job or college . Is this method of coping helping you to grow and evolve into the person you want to be and living the life the life you want? In the end, you find the costs are greater than the benefits so now might be a time to change!
What are My Values?
When was the last time you sat and really thought about your values and what is a value anyway? A value can be defined as something that is very important to us and gives our life, meaning, and purpose. Something you identify with and that is part of who you are and what you want to be known for. Some examples are spirituality, connection, community, justice, or adventure to name a few. It is what makes us feel fulfilled. When our lives are moving in the direction of our values, we feel more confident and happier. When we live a life of moving away from our values, we experience more suffering and a sense of dissatisfaction.
With change there is discomfort, so seeking guidance and support during the change process can be very beneficial. Completing a values inventory where you list your values and order them based on importance can be a helpful exercise. Next, ask yourself am I moving towards or away from this value? If you are, great and keep up the hard work! If not, it may be time to face your fears and live a more values-based life to find more satisfaction and self-dependence.