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Be independent!

This week our topic is independence, and the benefits that entails.

Finding time for yourself is sometimes difficult to do as a busy adult, but’s important that you realize that you deserve your own attention, and that you are just as important as anyone else in your life.

To become a powerful force in your own life, one with the ability to create the time and space you deserve, you need to see yourself as an independent being with your own thoughts, desires and needs. This does not mean you need to be alone. Being independent does not in any way automatically equate to being alone, or even lonely. It means you are a whole being, with enough self-respect, self-love, and self-awareness to know that you are an autonomous and influential person.

To be independent means you remain curious. If you hear or learn something new, you don’t accept it as gospel. You research it on your own. You choose reliable resources to confirm it and you don’t back down from challenging it if you don’t find facts to support it.

You embrace accountability and do not shy away from owning your actions and decisions. You not only accept your failures, make apologies when needed, and don’t rely on excuses, but you rise up and take credit for your successes. Some people give their power away by giving credit for their hard work, commitment, and dedication to someone else, or just brush it off and tell others that it was “no big deal.” Yes, yes it is. It is a big deal. If you did something great, you should celebrate it.

You are decisive. When you need to make a decision, be it life-changing or just what to have to eat (although that may not be the best example as sometimes, if you’re like me, you genuinely don’t have an opinion) you do as much research as you need, take as much time as you need, but ultimately you decide what is best for you. This in no way means you disregard and do not take into account the needs and opinions of anyone else, including your spouse or significant other, children, boss, neighbors, or any other affected party, but it does mean that you stand by your decision and know that it’s the best thing for you, whatever that may be. If sacrificing something you want or need serves your best interest (which may equate to something for the benefit of someone else), then you make the conscious choice to make that decision. But do not ever hand over your power to anyone else and allow them to choose for you.

You take chance to enrich your own life. You do and experience things that you’ve never done before. Go to a movie by yourself. Travel by yourself - yes, I said go on a trip alone. Or at the very least to someplace you’ve never been before. When I was married, my spouse was a creature of habit, and we would return to the same location more than once and I always felt like I was missing out. Now, let me preface this by saying that I do go to New York City as often as possible, but since my divorce I have gone other places, and even left the country. And traveling by yourself gives you the freedom to go and see what you want, when you want. If you want to change plans, you don’t need to consult the group. And seeing a movie alone? Who cares? You sit there in the dark, not talking - or at least you’re not supposed to be talking, like some people just can’t seem to refrain from doing when sitting close to me - eating your popcorn, and becoming engrossed in the story. Being alone doesn’t have any effect on your enjoyment of the movie. Go treat yourself to a nice dinner. Or stay at home with a bottle of wine and watch your favorite show or movie. Or read a book. Just spend some time alone and get to know yourself.

I’m doing something new: I am going to the local indoor gun range - by myself - and taking my first shooting lesson, and I intend on purchasing a handgun following my training. It’s something I’ve always thought about doing and I’m finally going to do it.

When you see something that needs to be done, do it. Take action - do it yourself or hire a professional. If you want to do it yourself but don’t yet know how, seek training and learn how. Take a class, watch a video, read a book, whatever it takes. Don’t wait for someone else to handle it. That’s how things never get done, and resentment and frustration sets in. Don’t nag someone else to do it. Take care of your own mental state and just handle it.

And stop complaining. What has complaining ever done for you? Yes, we have all found ourselves going down the rabbit hole, but how do you really feel afterwards? Your mood is soured, and you drag others down with you. It’s contagious and it does nothing more than make you feel worse and inhibit your problem-solving vision. Things will and do go wrong, there’s no getting around it. Complaining elevates the stress hormones throughout your body and solves nothing. In fact, I feel that I’m almost complaining about complaining and making myself laugh a little, so I advise you to, rather than just look at what is wrong, take a breath, don’t talk, and maybe even step away from the situation; re-frame your mindset, look for how you can improve or change the situation and just in general walk away from negativity.

Look for validation only from internal sources. You know your strengths; you know what you want; you know how best to meet your own needs and make things happen for you.

I’m not advising anyone to not ask for help. You are not alone in this world and do not have to carry the weight of your troubles by yourself. But I do challenge you to test yourself. Every day I see posts with comments that inevitably ask, “where do I find that?”, or “how do I do that?” Why not take a shot at figuring it out on your own? Learn about it, how to do it, so at the very least, if you end up having someone else do it for you, you know if they’re doing a great job for you.

And finally…take the time to get to know yourself, inside and out. Figure out your likes and dislikes. Clarify your beliefs and what you want to learn. Resist being influenced by outside forces. And allow yourself to blossom into the strong, independent being that commands respect and that deep inside you know you truly are.

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