Emotional independence is the desired outcome for many. However, individuals struggle with the specifics of how to achieve this goal. Below I will outline some strategies for emotional independence.
Signs of Emotional Dependence
A good indicator of emotional dependence is relying on another person (spouse, family or friends) to make decisions for you. They communicate through actions or verbally that this is uncomfortable for them.
The thought of people leaving generate anxious feelings.
Do you feel threatened when your friends or partner spend time with other people?
You are unhappy with when alone.
These may all be signs that you are becoming emotionally dependent on others.? However, there could be underlying reasons for this behaviour. Awareness and understanding of conduct can enable you to make needed changes. However, change is only possible when we actively seek it and take steps to tackle the problem.
Three Factors that could Influence Emotional Dependence
Environmental factors – these include early childhood experiences; perhaps you were never given the opportunity to make decisions on your own. Having never learnt to make decisions you develop a lack of trust in your abilities and therefore do not have the confidence to venture out on your own.
Learned behaviour – You may have seen this is mirrored in your home or among people of influence in your life. For example, one parent was the dominant figure and made all the important decisions for everyone else. Therefore, it became the norm for you to check your decisions with others.
You grew up around a plethora of negative messages which sap your energy stole your self-confidence.
Perhaps you are from an abusive relationship where you did not have the freedom to make decisions, form relationships and explore your gifts and talents.
Home may have been unstable – You crave security as it was never present. As a result of this experience, you developed safe strategies to ensure people stay.
Three Strategies you can Apply Today and Gain Emotional Independence
Honesty – be honest with yourself, try to identify the areas where you are leaning heavily on others and make every effort to develop solutions to begin the journey of self-sufficiency. Are your actions due to feelings of abandonment that needs tackling? Are you harbouring a fear of people leaving and so to ensure they stay you are holding on a little tighter to them? These are things that can be painful to own. Nevertheless, do not despair; uncomfortable feelings can signal the beginning of change. It is as you become uncomfortable with what you are discovering and actively seek ways to improve that control will be re-instated.
Fear debilitates, and by its very nature it can be inhibiting, fear encourages you to lie to yourself. It influences you to reject what you heart is saying as you read this. Many things can affect the anxiety you may be experiencing do not worry it may all be normal.
As humans we fear change, any change can be difficult. Making behavioural changes can be especially demanding emotionally. Because you are going to venture out on a journey perhaps that you have never taken before, you are going to make the decision to live a life you have never had before. You may be aware that current behaviour is unsustainable, you are conscious that your behaviour alienates people. It feels safe and familiar and therefore the thought of change is daunting. It would mean establishing a new identity, forming new friendships, living life in an entirely different way. I can appreciate that this is unnerving nonetheless I firmly believe that you can do it. All that is required is taking the first step. Do not focus on the whole task, instead, tackle them incrementally. For example, you may have identified that you regularly check your decisions with others. Attempt to make a decision on your own.
Some Things to Try
- Purchase an item on your own.
- If you are job hunting, begin circling possible jobs best suited to you.
- On a sheet of paper, list all the things that need to change in the relationship that has caused pain, but you feel unable to address. This maybe with a spouse, a child, a parent, siblings, friends, work colleagues or even in your employment.
It is important to add that having emotional independence does not mean you will never need support. However, support will be sought and used in a different way.
Change the way you ask for help
Now that you have taken the first step in independence, here is one that will contribute to enhancing and reinforce the action taken. Change the way you ask for help. Let’s consider number two above; you have pinpoint jobs that might be of interest. Another activity could be to list your skills and talents. What will make you eligible to apply for those jobs? At this stage, you could seek feedback. In this way, you are getting help to make a decision, but you have already begun the process. Their input may help you choose this or that, as opposed to giving them carte Blanche to pick for you.
Accountability – If is appropriate and safe ask the individual you previously depended on to help hold you accountable. Ask them to give you honest feedback when they notice that you are slipping into old habits of dependence. Notwithstanding, protect yourself from those who would use the opportunity to damage your self-esteem further and attack your worth.
Support – If dependence is a deep-seated issue that you developed due to problems in the past such as abuse, neglect, or experiences in your early life seek support to help you gain further understanding.