5 Steps to Becoming Independent

By The Spiritual Explorer | Published 20 April, 2016

Dear Spiritual Explorer: I am 26 years of age and have been financially dependent on my family for many years. This year I have decided to become more independent, not only financially but also emotionally, and not rely upon them. Could you give me some more ideas as to how I might accomplish becoming independent? Lorne P., Dearborn, MI


Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron

Dear Lorne: Many times when we feel dependent upon someone, it is simply because we have never gotten to know who we are. This includes some people who are beginning to examine choices in their lives. For example, their favorite clothes, what they like to eat, favorite movies and whom they have chosen as friends. For some, they have even long-chosen friends that their parents thought suitable as well as a clothing style and formal way of how they conduct themselves. While this at first might sound formidable, and overwhelming, I suggest Pema Chadron’s book Start Where You Are, in which she suggests you not begin by making huge steps but by becoming comfortable with how you are at this moment. In the meantime, here are some good suggestions also on your way to becoming independent.

5 ways to becoming independent

1. Get to know who you truly are

I met a woman now 45 who told me that she had been an heiress of a not inconsiderable fortune and as such, she had been expected to conform to a certain way in society. She never felt it comfortable, but it felt easier not to make waves. What happened was that she fell in love with this great adventurer who lived by the seat of his pants in terms of livelihood and experiences. She fell madly in love with him and as such, began to accompany him upon his adventures. Needless to say, if you were to see pictures of her today astride a horse, you wouldn’t recognize the society heiress she was 20 years previously. When I queried her about this, she told me that falling in love with him was truly about falling in love with the new person she wished to become. He had just brought out her true personage.

2. Wake up and challenge beliefs about your life

Think about what you feel is truly valuable to you in your life, whether you support a particular political party or are drawn to people who reflect a more adventurous side of you. Many times we are attracted to “like” people. That is not uncommon to want to be part of the crowd that you grew up with. Start challenging those characteristics and see if they truly fit the new and realer you.

3. Become assertive

If you wish to become independent you must assert yourself in all areas of your life. You must be able to say yes and no to what you have formerly believed in or trusted to be there for you. Instead of just giving way, ask yourself if a particular food is really good for you or if you truly want to see that movie your friend is dying to see. Give your opinion. Do not be a mouse about it either.

4. Start making your own decisions

Stop asking all your friends what you should do. Most of the time when we do that it comes from that well of insecurity we have been living with. Begin to trust that even if something does not turn out well, you will move away from it and make a truer choice next time. Allow yourself to make mistakes and pick yourself up. That is how we grow.

5. Finally, I would say, learn how to soothe yourself through difficult times.

What that means is we all go through crises and uncomfortable spaces in our lives. Many people are not happy with discomfort and so they try to comfort themselves though drugs, food, alcohol etc. Knowing that there will be those times when you will feel harried and uncomfortable, allow yourself to have ready some things that will relax you in a healthy way. Some examples are going to a movie that you love, reading a great book, doing some slow and relaxing exercises that make your body feel better, and just in general deep breathing. You can even start to look into classes that will affirm the new you that is beginning to emerge.

But most of all, be kind to yourself at this time of growth; the new you wishes to emerge, similar to a child, taking new steps, and you always want to be kind to a child. Good luck to you and CONGRATULATIONS!

If you have a question about the “Becoming Independent,” or if you wish to explore your karmic habit, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer.

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