Being emotionally independent and resilient is an integral part of being happy. When we depend on others for our sense of self, we never truly know who we are. Fortunately, by accepting ourselves, modifying our thinking, and taking active strides to be true to who we are and who we feel, we can find that inner sense of peace and independence we’ve been looking for. And it all starts with Step 1 below.
Step 1. Accepting Yourself
Reframe the past.
Whether you’re 7 or 70, you’ve probably had relationships that have left you a little worse for the wear. We, humans, have a tendency to take every failure/argument/disappointment/rejection personally and tally it up in our own mental notebooks, coming up with a number to equate to just how valuable we are. First things first, that’s gotta stop. The past is in the past and it’s going to stay there. It has little significance.
Forgive and forget.
The next time you catch yourself being upset with someone, realize that it has nothing to do with you. It’s them making their own decisions, and you have no control over that, which is fine. This is one trivial moment in the scheme of your life that in short order will be completely forgotten about.That being said, this doesn’t mean that some people should be let off the hook. Forgive them, forget the behavior, but modify your expectations. Was your friend an hour late to your lunch date? Noted. Next time (if there is a next time), you’ll know how to handle it.
Spend time with yourself.
In this time, watch your mind wander. Where does it go to? How does it think? Take note of just how fascinating this thing inside your head really is. What can you learn about yourself?
Know who you are.
You are just as worthy as everyone else you know. There are not “better” humans; we all have good and bad qualities.
You have talents and interests. What are they?
You have thoughts and opinions. You have things you like and dislike. What are those?
You have values. You have beliefs. What things/concepts/ideas do you hold as true?
Step 2. Changing Your Thinking
There are a handful of ways one can be emotionally dependent. The most common way is in a romantic relationship. We learn to depend on our significant other for affection, sex, approval, you name it. When it doesn’t come, we feel we’ve done something wrong or we’re somehow less valuable. How are you emotionally dependent? Romantically? With friends? Coworkers or your boss? With every person you meet? Think about a few of the following things to pinpoint what areas you need to work on:
Do you get jealous easily? Do you compare yourself to others so much that it can ruin your day?
Do people often fail to meet your expectations? Who does this most often?
When you’re alone, do you seek out others just to feel okay? Does a void spring up when you’re not with others?
Does your partner or the idea of a partner mean happiness to you?
When we blame others, they’re at fault. Therefore, they become the only ones who can fix the problem. Terrible. In order to take control of your thinking and emotions, you’ve got to take responsibility.
This forces you to become reliant on yourself for a solution. Instead of wallowing in misery, you think about what options you have at your disposal to improve the situation. This gets rid of those negative emotions that well up, too, forcing you to be more logical and feel more in control.
The next time you get offended, stop.
Just for a moment. Why get all worked up? This is just a person who is passing judgment and criticism. It is not the end of the world, nor is it even particularly remarkable, likely. Everyone does it. Why give them the satisfaction of caring? It’s just not worth it.
Remind yourself that you don’t have to react the way you feel inclined to. It may seem as if the natural, human way to respond is by being upset, but that’s hardly your only option. You could be angry, you could be sad – or you could note it and move on. After all, there’s no benefit to being angry or sad, is there? What’ll it get you?
Realize that happiness is only inside you.
Quite literally. Serotonin and dopamine are what you really enjoy. If you wanted to condition yourself to feel ecstatic at the sight of brown carpet, you could. Brains are funny little creatures like that. In other words, you decide what makes you happy and it has nothing to do with the outside world. It comes from within – you can’t find it out there.
In case it wasn’t clear, this is very, very, very good news. You have control over all your feelings! You are at the whim of no one! Every emotion you want to feel, you can. Every emotion you don’t want to feel, you don’t have to. Happiness is just a decision away.
Do your best not to overcompensate.
There is a fine line between being emotionally independent, and well, a jerk. Some people get so caught up in “being true to them” that they step all over others in an effort to assert themselves. Keep in mind that this is not an excuse to be a bully and to always get your way. You can be kind and considerate while still being true to you.
Most people who stomp all over others are trying to thwart their inner feelings inadequacy or unimportance. They don’t feel of any value on the inside, so they force their “value” on others in an effort to convince themselves. This isn’t being emotionally independent – it’s straight up being rude.
Step 3. Living Independently
Decide for yourself.
The next time your friends are sitting around the table badmouthing the latest movie or complaining about pseudo-liberals or even gossiping about a friend, instead of letting them shape your opinions, decide for yourself. How do you feel? Why should their opinions have any weight on yours?
Try this in tiny ways, too. The next time you want to check out a cafe or a movie or a shop, etc., and you’ve heard pretty mediocre things, go anyway! Other people sometimes just don’t know what they’re talking about.
When you have decided for yourself, work up to speaking out about it. It’s possible other people feel similarly but are too shy to say anything! You may also bring up a good point that no one else considered.
The next time you have an opportunity to do something that you just don’t feel like doing, say no. Not only do you not want to partake in this activity, but it’s totally fine if you don’t live up to others’ expectations because it doesn’t bother you. Listen to your gut – it’s often right.
There’s a fine line here, however. Should you skip your best friend’s wedding because you don’t feel like it? Probably not. Should you avoid the mandatory work meeting because you’re feeling lazy? Nope. In other words, know how to pick your battles.
Learn to fix your own problems.
Nowadays, we live in cultures of millions. We have so many resources at our disposal that we don’t have to do a thing ourselves. We get our cars fixed, our plumbing fixed, our computers fixed, our health fixed – the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, that takes away from our resourcefulness and our sense of responsibility. In order to not depend on others, we’ve got to fix our own problems.
So the next time you’re feeling down in the dumps, take it on your own shoulders to do something about it. Spend the night doing something you really enjoy, treat yourself to retail therapy, or, heck, just relax. When you’re successful, this can show you that you have the power to make everything better, not other people.
Expect little from others.
There’s a line from a James Bond theme that says, “Arm yourself because no one else will save you.” It’s a little cynical, but the idea is true: we’re all humans and at the end of the day, we have to be selfish and put ourselves first to be happy. Everyone else does it, so you can, too – without feeling any guilt.
Keeping this in mind can help you from getting your hopes up and then being let down. When you have few expectations of people, it’s easier for others to meet them. And it’ll be easier to notice who still struggles meeting your lack of expectation and who consistently rises to the top.
Hang out with different groups of people.
When our entire lives revolve around a small group of people, it’s hard not to think that their opinions couldn’t move mountains. To widen your world and take the importance off their opinions, hang out with more people! Having a wide social network is good in fair and foul weather, too.
All humans have to attach themselves to things. It can stink because it means our emotions are at the whim of other people and other things. The key here is to not over-attach yourself. It’s a fine line that only you can find. The best way to do this is to spread yourself between different people and divvy up your time accordingly.
Do your own thing.
This is what it comes down to. You are your own person and therefore you’re going to do your own thing, whatever that means. When you find who you are and stick to it, no one can stop that inner sense of happiness that’ll prevail as a result.
People who genuinely stick to who they are are a rare breed. It shouldn’t cause judgment – it should inspire. People will see that you are your own fountain of happiness and wish they were the same! While some won’t be able to handle it, they’re not the ones you want to be around anyway!.
Source: The above story is based on materials originally published on wikihow.com. The original article was written by several unspecified authors.
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