We all like to think that we're strong, independent people, and chances are, that's totally the case. But sometimes we can all use a boost on how to be more independent. We rely on others' help more than we realize. When going out to eat, you ask your pal what should you eat: The chicken salad or the mushroom burger? When you're at work, chances are you ask a trusted co-worker to look over your an important email before you hit "send." And don't forget those times you called up mom to ask her what you should do when you found yourself between a rock and a hard place.
We all rely on advice here and there and sometimes you just need someone to help you realize what you actually want to do, but the danger is it's really easy to become dependent. It comes down to having a lack of trust in ourselves and our own abilities — that's why we ask someone else to check our answers. So take back control, and start taking little steps to become more independent. Below are seven easy tips on how to be more independent in your day to day life. Remember, baby steps lead to big results when added up!
1. Make Yourself Uncomfortable
To become independent you have to be willing to take some scary steps that might make you uncomfortable. When faced with moments like those, our gut instinct is to find a way to avoid those uneasy feelings, and more times than not that avoidance leads to something dependent. Whether that's asking for you parents' help, inviting a friend to go along with us, or dropping the activity all together. So what's the best way to unlearn that habit? Put yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable, and sticking them through.
According to Michael Davidson at self-improvement blog Feel Happiness, "It is critically important at this stage that you begin to take yourself out of your comfort zone. There is nothing 'unfree' about doing things that you feel comfortable with." By sticking through an uncomfortable or intimidating situation, you also get emboldened — you prove to yourself you really could do it! With that comes a new found confidence that you can be independent, and you become a little more sure-footed along the way.
2. Make Decisions On Your Own
This seems like an obvious point, but sometimes the most obvious facts are the ones most easily overlooked. For example, think of how many times you ask your friends' inputs when making a decision. It might be over something as simple as if you should get the macchiato iced or hot; it seems harmless, but by constantly doing this you're training yourself that you need someone else's approval. You can't move forward unless someone else agrees, which means you don't trust yourself to do the right thing. And that's where you lose your independence.
According to Christy O'Shoney at self-development blog Nectar Collective, "So often we crowd source decisions that we could easily make on our own. Sure, it’s helpful to get someone else’s opinion every now and then, but sometimes it just inhibits you from being confident in your own judgments. This goes for big decisions as well as seemingly insignificant ones." So find your confidence; choose the drink on your own and see what else you're capable of.
3. Nix The Urge To Explain Yourself
Sometimes when we do make decisions on our own, we feel the need to explain the or back them up with proof. It's knee-jerk and you want other people to understand. but what you really want is their approval and validation that what you did was right. If you want to become independent, force yourself to fight the urge to explain.
Lifestyle writer Araina Bond at Oprah shared, "As you alter the way you live, people will object to the changes. Think of a phrase that you can deliver without elaboration, like 'I'm doing this because it makes me happy.'" If people ask what led you to do something, answer them in a way that doesn't need further elaboration. You don't need to show your work on how you got to the answer — you just have to show that you think it's the right one.
4. Pretend You're In It Alone
It can be hard not to reach out and ask someone for help when you're in a tricky spot. If you want to learn how to be independent but are finding it hard to fight the urge for an opinion or a helping hand, try pretending you're in your city, apartment, or office completely alone. Not in a depressing "I have nobody" kind of way, but in a "I can only rely on myself right now" type of fashion. Turn off your phone, pretend you're in a new city on the opposite coast, and it's just you and your smarts to figure out what your next move is.
Wellness blogger Noel shared on self-improvement site Pick the Brain, "Play the pretend game if you have to. Act as if you are all alone in a new city and you know no one. Whatever that you want, you have to get it yourself. Remember that." It's all on your shoulders now, and you can totally handle it.
5. Take Off Your Social Mask
It can be hard to grow your independence if you're constantly weighed down by the image you need to present to others. Because with that image comes a set of responsibilities you might feel obligated to perform, even if they don't make you happy. Forget what everyone else thinks. Don't hold onto your social ties on the expense of your happiness. You need to let them go in order to think independently, instead of doing what you think a faceless crowd (who really doesn't even think about you) wants you to do.
According to Davidson, "Essentially, this means that you should act more authentically and more true to yourself when around others. It’s so easy to slip into a persona in public and pretend to be someone you’re not...Your social mask takes away your freedom to act like yourself. Over time it will lower your confidence and eat away at you. It’s the exact opposite of being authentic to your values." It could be a scary step, but a huge one in terms og gaining your independence. You'll begin to do what you think is right for you, not what others think is right.
6. Practice Your Assertiveness
Becoming comfortable with being assertive is important in gaining your independence because it makes you comfortable with saying your real opinion and sticking up for yourself. If you become assertive, you'll be strong enough to choose what's best for yourself, even if that means disappointing people along the way.
Psychologist Randy Paterson, Ph.D said, "Through assertiveness we develop contact with ourselves and with others...We don’t try to become someone else’s mirror." If you're strong enough to stand by your own decisions or intuitions, you'll begin to become independent because you're not just trying to appease everyone around you. Instead, you'll be comfortable doing what's best for you.
7. Get To Know Yourself
How can you know how to make decisions for yourself if you don't know your likes, values, or goals? How will you know what's best for you or most inline with your interests? You won't! That's why you need to get to know yourself before you begin to try to be independent.
O'Shoney advises, "If you feel that you’ve been losing yourself a bit lately, it might be because you are focusing all of your energies on someone else. It’s time to check in with yourself." Take the necessary steps to learn what you like, what you need, and what you hope for. Sometimes that means going into your calendar and penciling in a time to explore those sides of yourself.
Do what you have to — in the end you'll be happier once you start doing what's best for you.