Independence has always been important to me. While a large part of that is due to how I was raised, it is possible to become more independent even if it wasn’t instilled in you as a child. As you navigate through adulthood, you may struggle to find your independence. Whether you’re transitioning from college to the real world, just got out of a serious relationship, or have moved to a new city, independence is an essential skill to have, and reclaiming it may take some time. For those of you who feel lost on how to accomplish independence, keep reading! Below are 9 ways you can reclaim your independence.
How to Become More Independent
Challenge Your Assumptions
When we’re young, many of the beliefs and opinions we hold derive from our family members and those close to us. As we get older, these assumptions may carry over into our adult life. Whether they’ve been ingrained in our minds since we were young or maybe current friends or significant others have made an impression on us, it’s important to challenge your assumptions regularly. Reevaluate your perception of the world around you by reflecting on if your opinions are solely your own.
Groupthink is very real, especially in the world of algorithm-driven social media. Don’t forget that it’s okay to have an independent thought, and that you won’t always be right. Gain knowledge and perspective in areas you wouldn’t normally gravitate towards by looking outside of your circle. Having a variety of podcasts in your rotation is a great way to dispell myths you grew up with or learn about new topics!
Prioritize Your Health
As the old saying goes, you often don’t realize what you have until it’s gone. The same holds true for your health; you don’t realize how lucky you are to be healthy until you’re not. This is why you should consistently prioritize your health so that you’re better prepared for anything life throws at you. Start by scheduling regular appointments with all of your different healthcare providers like your primary doctor, gynecologist, and dermatologist. Even if you’re short on time, this doesn’t have to keep you from being independent. Nowadays, there are various millennial-friendly services that can do anything from diagnosing your flu-like symptoms to sending you your birth control prescription, all without even having to leave your home.
Feeling overwhelmed by this concept? Start small! Make tiny, longterm changes to your diet, try a 7-day cleanse, or incorporate low-impact cardio in your weekly routine! I recently completed the Whole30 diet as a way to get back on the healthy eating track, and I loved the outcome! Create a resolution for yourself and do one thing every day that contributes to your overall health.
Do Things By Yourself
True independence can be reflected in your ability to do things without someone else. As an introvert, I have no problem spending time by myself if I’m at home. When I was younger, I always wanted my best friend or boyfriend to do things with me, but I’ve thankfully grown out of that and have learned to enjoy my solo time even outside of the house.
Here’s the thing: If you wait around for others to be ready to do something that you want to do, great opportunities will often pass you by. Stop waiting to travel, try a new restaurant, or see a new movie just because you don’t have someone else there to accompany you. Doing things by yourself may feel uncomfortable in the beginning, however, it’s all about how you shift your attitude. If you look and feel comfortable doing things solo, no one will question you or your right to be there.
Also, remember that not every activity has to be completed. While I’m a huge fan of taking myself to see the latest movie, one of my friends can’t imagine seeing a movie alone. Instead, she loves to take herself out on lunch or dinner dates at a restaurant, which is something I have yet to do. Challenge yourself to do 1 or 2 activities by yourself and then branch out from there. You’ll quickly learn what you do and don’t like to do when you aren’t living on someone else’s time.
Identify Your Needs
Those in codependent relationships will often find themselves catering to everyone else’s needs, except for their own. Even if you are independent, this is something that can fall by the wayside if you’re often known as the giver in your relationships. Although your basic needs may be met, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs indicates there are other categories of needs that are equally as, if not, more important to your health and happiness. Feelings of security, intimacy, belongingness, freedom, and respect are a few of the many needs we require to feel fulfilled. For that reason, you should work on identifying your needs and reflect on if they’re being met or not.
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Take Control of Your Finances
Feeling overwhelmed when it comes to finances is very common, especially when you’re about to take on a huge expense. (Hello, grad school tuition!) Why it can feel overwhelming varies from person to person. Maybe it’s because someone else controls your finances, such as a parent or significant other. Or in other cases, maybe you’re overwhelmed because you may not be keeping proper track of your earning-to-spending ratio. Whatever the case may be, it’s crucial to understand how your monthly expenses compare to your monthly earnings in order to plan your budget accordingly. From there, you can put money aside for your bills, add to your savings, and use the leftover money to spend however you’d like.
There are several apps, websites, and programs out there to take the guesswork out of your finances, so find one you like and stick with it! If you prefer to track manually, there are sample spreadsheets and templates available across the web as well.
Not only can reading improve your memory and reduce anxiety, but it can also help make you become more independent. Reading expands your knowledge on various topics, and therefore, expands your worldview. Try picking up a book on a subject you know little about and watch how much you grow. Furthermore, self-help books are extremely popular and are a great genre to dive into for self-reflection.
I love a good book about self-help, business, and other development topics. If you are totally clueless as to where to start, join a book club! I’m in two book clubs right now–one is focused on business/leadership and the other is focused on woman empowerment. Reading within a book club creates the perfect balance because it’s still an independent activity, but you gain a sense of community (and a renewed perspective) when the group meets to discuss the chapters. For light and stylish reading, there are a few fashion books I recommend that will boost your style while also providing some inspiration.
Stop Focusing on What Others Think of You
I know, I know. This is easier said than done, but it is possible if you work at it! I think of confidence as a muscle you need to exercise regularly. If you constantly worry about how others perceive you, you’ll struggle to be happy and think independently. Oftentimes, when you’re preoccupied with thinking about how your peers or family members view something you want to do, you’ll refrain from doing it altogether. Don’t let others dictate what you do or how you express yourself just because they have a different opinion than you. Work on being your own cheerleader and do what makes you happy.
If you’re struggling with confidence and worry about what others think of you more often than not, try incorporating mindful activities into your daily routine. Try a bit of meditation to center yourself, yoga to become more in tune with your body, and positive affirmations to verbally remind yourself that you are capable, strong, and beautiful.
Learn to Give Yourself Emotional Support
When you experience difficult feelings, what’s the first thing you think/do? Maybe you immediately put yourself down for feeling this way, or you brush off the feeling entirely. Or, you may turn to your go-to person for outside help every time you’re in a rut. If any of these methods sound familiar to you, it’s important that you learn ways to soothe yourself. While I’m not saying that you need to ditch your emotional support systems completely, you do want to learn how to be capable of dealing with things on your own in a healthy manner. So, how can you be your own support system? Accept what you’re feeling and reflect on how you can make yourself feel better. It’s perfectly fine to reach out for help, but having your own emotional support system from within is equally as important.
Cut Toxic People Off
There will be times in life where the people around you don’t have your best interest in mind. Think back to when you were a kid and your parents would tell you they didn’t trust one of your friends. Now, flash forward to today. Were your parents right? Chances are, they were. As a child, you’re young and naive. Your parents had the experience and wisdom to see who didn’t have your best interest at heart.
Now that you’re an adult, it’s primarily your job to identify the bad apples in your space. These people may be competitive, vindictive, manipulative, and overall not good for your well-being. For the sake of your own inner peace, cut the cord on toxic people and watch your life flourish. It can be very difficult to cut someone off from your life, especially if they’re already a big part of your day-to-day. This is where I give you some tough love and tell you to rip the bandaid off even though it’s difficult. Why? Because letting these people go will only benefit your peace of mind and make more room for people who truly value you. If you need some inspiration on how to cut off toxic people, you may find this article helpful.
Now, I want to hear from you! What are some things you do that shine light on your independence?
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