7 Tips For Increasing Self-Reliance

There’s no doubt that it’s important to have a solid support network of people who are there to offer love, compassion and insight. In fact, people who deny themselves the chance to connect with others are missing out on a profoundly rewarding part of life—one that can dramatically diminish stress and boost well-being.

However, it’s equally important to be able to draw on your own strength and to know that you are complete without the input or presence of anyone else. Here are seven tips for maintaining healthy self-reliance.

1. Accept Responsibility

When you’re self-reliant, you own your choices and take action to ensure that you meet your responsibilities. For example, try to view your finances as being entirely under your control—resist the urge to over-spend or to go to people that will likely offer you handouts.

In addition, be the one to fix things when life doesn’t go to plan, rather than immediately running to others to clean up the mess. While embracing responsibility might not sound like much fun, it’s also incredibly empowering and can do wonders for your self-esteem.

2. Make Your Own Decisions

On a related note, being self-reliant means being the one to make the choices about your future—whether that feels good or bad. The good thing about committing to making your own choices is that you have the final say about your life’s direction, but the harder part of the process is that it can feel quite comforting to allow others to make choices for you.

If you chronically struggle with being in charge of your decisions, start out with small ones (such the as the restaurant choice on your birthday) and gradually work up to larger choices (such as vacation destinations or career paths).

Here are 3 steps for daring decision-making.

3. Learn More Practical Skills

The more practical skills you have in your toolkit, the fewer chances there will be for you to feel helpless or need other people to come to your rescue. While you should feel free to call out experts to help you with complicated household problems and mechanical difficulties, it’s great if you can at least do the basics for yourself.

Get some books or join some classes, and get a better grasp of everything from plumbing to IT, electronics and cooking.

4. Look After Your Body

While you shouldn’t expect yourself to be your own doctor and should always seek medical advice if you are concerned about your health, try to look after your body to minimize the need for treatment and medication.

Work out on a regular basis, eat healthy food most of the time, and stay informed about specific diseases that you may be at risk of developing (whether for genetic or environmental reasons). All of these actions will make you more confident about relying on your body, and this will have the side-effect of making you feel more comfortable with the idea of self-reliance in general.

5. Recognize And Accept Your Feelings

When you push away or repress your feelings, you may find yourself using your dynamics with others to work through your issues or express your frustration. Instead, become more self-reliant by learning how to be more in tune with your feelings.

For example, try keeping a diary journal where you write at least half a page about your emotional experiences and the things that evoked them. A further important aspect of emotional self-reliance is improving your ability to sit with uncomfortable or difficult emotions. Mindfulness exercises can help here, as they enhance your mind’s ability to observe without judgement.

6. Find Healthy Ways To Express Negative Emotion

Once you’ve improved your ability to feel, experience and name your emotions, you can further heighten your self-reliance by working out new ways to deal with negative feelings. Instead of needing to take your anger out on other people, for example, you can learn to use the mature defense mechanism of sublimation.

In other words, you can channel fury or irritation into an activity like running, art or a competitive team sport. If you have such an activity to fall back on, you become much more self-reliant when it comes to regulating your emotions

7. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

Finally, your self-reliance will always be hampered by any strong tendency to judge your worth or access compared to that of others. Start looking inwards for acceptance and worth, instead of being unable to view yourself positively unless there’s proof you’re “better” than the average.

Try writing down a list of at least 20 things that you like about yourself, and stick it up where you can see it. These reasons will help to connect you to the truth that you are lovable, talented, unique and worthwhile and discourage you from relying on comparisons for your self-esteem.