Advertising
Advertising

5 Ways To Be More Independent

5 Ways To Be More Independent

Have you ever wanted to be less reliant on others and be more independent? Do you have moments when you wish you could be more self-reliant and let those close to you worry less about you?

People who are independent seem to know what they want and how to go for it. They appear more confident and happier. They can take care of themselves and others as well. They appear to have their own thoughts and they are not easily influenced by the opinions of others. They are the go-getters when it comes to their decisions and actions, sometimes like a maverick. They take responsibility for themselves, their thoughts, and their actions.

If you have always thought about standing on your own two feet but are still unsure about how and where to start, here are five ways you can get on your way to being more independent.

Know Who You Are

You can only be who you want to be when you know who you are. Find out who you are at your core.

What makes you happy? What irks you? What are your favourites? What are your non-negotiables? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are the things that you really enjoy doing and would hate to compromise for others? What decisions do you make for yourself? Are they major life decisions, or are they mini-choices you make on daily basis? What do you stand for?

Advertising

When you know who you are, you will be able to work on ways to improve yourself and gain the freedom that you want. Only when you understand yourself, will you be able to embark on your own journey to independence. Get clear about what you want to achieve before you start working towards it.

Take Back Your Power

One of the major factors of being independent is to be free from the control of others. Learn to rely less on others to do things for you, to take care of you and to make decisions for you.

How well are you taking care of yourself? What does your family say about you when it comes to being independent? Do you always need them to bail you out? Do you manage your spaces well (cleanliness of your room, car, or desk)? How can you demonstrate to them that you won’t be a cause of worry? Take your power back.

Do you constantly lean to others for support? Do you have trouble speaking your mind because you don’t seem to have a voice of your own? Are you often swayed by the opinions of others? Perhaps there are times when you already have a decision in mind but a word from your best friend or a comment from your sibling made you change your mind, and you wonder why you could never make the decision for yourself. The more you lean to others for approval, the harder it is for you to be independent.

When you lean on others for approval or permission to decide, you are giving your power away to others. Start taking your power back and you will slowly free yourself from the control of others. Learn to accept your own decisions, get comfortable with decision-making, and build up from there. The more you practise decision-making, the more you will learn to be more comfortable with the decisions you make — even though at times you may make mistakes.

Advertising

Practice Thinking Independently

Thinking independently means exploring your choices, weighing the options for yourself, seeking opinions from others (for reference, not approval), and making the call for yourself. Perhaps it might end up being a wrong call, but that does not mean that you should stop and give your power back to others.

For instance, you might want to move out of your parents’ house after you have graduated and found a job — which is great, except that your close-knit family objects to that idea. It might help to explore why they do not agree with you moving out. Could it be finances? Could it be that you are the youngest and everyone dotes on you so much that they worry about you living alone? Maybe they’re worried that you will visit less?

What other reasons could there be? How can you inform them of your decisions while considering their doubts? Have you always been good at taking care of yourself? If not, how can you start? That might mean you start making your own bed, making sure you have regular meals, taking care of your health, handling your own rent and bills, and so on.

Part of being independent also means thinking for others. When you think from the perspective of others, you might be able to gain deeper insights and apply them to various aspects of your life. Understanding that there are two sides (or more) to a situation may let you view situations differently and more objectively.

Ask

Being self reliant also means that you know when to seek assistance. When you are lost or confused and you want to give up your power and allow others to decide for you, remember that you have the option to ask for help when you need it.

Advertising

Don’t know how to cook? Learn by watching step-by-step cooking videos or printing recipes.

Not sure which course to take for your degree? Find a few people who have done the course you are interested in and ask them for their advice, but use their feedback as reference and not as a decision-making call.

Asking for help does not mean you are weak or surrendering your control further. It means you are strong enough to find out what you need to do to move forward.

Explore

The more you explore, the more avenues you will find available to you.

You can explore by visiting new places, or you can tap into the minds of others through reading well-written books. Learn from others how they handled various situations in life that you have no exposure to.

Advertising

Attend events when available and ask questions. Absorb the experiences of others and apply them to your own situation when you can.

There are many other ways to explore — solo traveling where you instantly learn to be more independent, volunteering yourself to be a team leader for a project, making your daily small choices without consulting anyone, embarking on other projects like craft projects or baking without depending on anyone, and so on.

In Conclusion

Sometimes, we get pushed into situations where we have no choice but to grow overnight. Though it can be necessary for our survival and our development as individuals, it can be hard on us to learn things the hard way.

When we proactively learn to be more independent so that we live our lives with control, we are generally empowering ourselves to think and act based on what we think is right for us and those we care for.

We need to learn to be independent in this interdependent world because that is how our individuality arises and how we grow to be more of who we are, not how others want us to be.

Today, be responsible for yourself and start taking steps to live with more independence.

Featured photo credit: PablO via pablo.buffer.com

More by this author

8 Steps to Achieve Your Three Big Goals for 2017 How to Deal with Decision Making at Tough Crossroads of Life Could You Still Show Respect to Someone You Dislike? Would You? Why You Should Disconnect from Social Networks Once In A While be more independent 5 Ways To Be More Independent

Trending in Featured

1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life 3 How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques 4 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 5 50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

Advertising

Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

Advertising

One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

Advertising

But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

Advertising

It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next