I used to have so much shame around this topic.
I was really good at articulating that I had my shit together and was able to hide enough so that my massive dependency on others never showed but I really struggled for a long time.
And there’s multiple sides to this but to be clear – I’m going to talk about developing emotional/mental independence as well as physical independence.
The first thing that comes to mind is that you have to really want to be independent.
You have to be willing to step into that responsibility and be willing to make decisions on your own.
I’ve found that a lot of us find comfort in dependency whether it started with our parents or we are now with partners who are more dominant and decisive.
And I totally get it.
I was v similar.
In my own experience, this started with my mother as she designed my upbringing so that I would always need her.
She criticized all of my choices.
She refined my perspective to always see that she had the right answer to everything.
& she actively and quite loudly doubted and minimized anyone else’s opinion around me to fool proof her subconscious plan for me to always listen and rely on her.
It is my belief, that this dependency (emotional, mental and physical) was created as a way to alleviate her own fear of abandonment.
As a fully independent adult woman now, I can look back and feel extremely frustrated about that.
I couldn’t make a decision without thinking of her and even though this was all of her making – she would then make sure to remind me of how irresponsible I was whenever I did ask for help on something.
‘You’ll never make it on your own.’
‘You think you’re so smart. Just wait.’
‘Ok, you’ll learn, Ms. Know It All.’
My biggest issue was that I didn’t enjoy my own company.
I couldn’t stand myself.
I felt needy, over-emotional, dramatic and overwhelming.
So I performed a lot to get the necessary feedback that any child would normally get from a healthy parent.
Years and years of relying on others to define me.
To let me know if I was doing okay.
To let me know that they agreed with my decision making.
I couldn’t think on my own.
I couldn’t feel on my own.
And I sure as fuck didn’t like to be alone.
I was a shell of human being.
Everything was loud, always moving and I was never enough.
Every move I made, every dollar I spent, every hour that went by that could be used to do something more productive – it was always about what my mom would say about it.
Not including, I opened a bunch of credit cards at her request (always, always to help her, you know)– that led me down a long road of massive debt that I had no idea what to do with.
I would try to save to get my own place but then would need the money to go else where.
I assumed it was all my fault, as she made sure to tell me – so here I was … heading into my mid 20’s and I couldn’t make a god damn decision for myself without massive self-doubt and I also couldn’t get my money right for the hell of me to get my own place.
So I spent most of my time either working (sometimes up to 7 days a week) and running around the city that I thought would change everything for me (definitely didn’t want to be home) filling my time with other people that I needed to validate me, too.
All of this, in secret, of course.
I over-explained myself constantly and hovered over people’s perceptions of me in order to correct any ‘mistakes.’
Always measuring my appeal based on someone else’s ruler.
It was consistently painful and incredibly exhausting.
So if you’re here, you’re not alone.
It took me YEARS to feel so solid in my convictions that I now literally have to spend time trying to remember what it felt like before.
My biggest piece of advice is becoming your own person.
You won’t ever trust your own thought process, if you don’t know who you are.
You won’t ever feel good about a decision you made, if you are constantly looking to someone else to tell you the right thing to do.
Here are some things to consider:
- You HAVE to spend intentional time alone. This was SO scary for me as I never spent any time alone other than when I was in the car and I was usually on the phone with someone. But this matters. I had to learn to enjoy my own company and get to know myself outside of everything that I was told I was.
I did a lot of reading, writing, dancing, listening to music or podcasts, walking, running, trying different foods, sitting in silence, meditating. I had to figure out what worked for me and not just what looked good or would please someone else. I had to learn about myself and how I actually felt about things so I could feel confident in who I was and in my decision making.
Most importantly, I had to befriend my loneliness and be that source of validation that I was so desperately seeking. (this can be the hardest part.)
- Really be firm on your boundaries. Start only doing shit that you really want to do and say no to everything else. I know this can feel funky when we are the ultimate people-pleaser or experience massive FOMO when we aren’t involved but in order to become that independent thinker, you have to start honoring what it is that you specifically want. Respect your space, your time, your boundaries, and behave accordingly.
- Figure out your own routine. What do you like to do in the mornings, afternoons, evenings? What do you like to listen to? What do you like to eat? How do you like to do these things? This is crucial to your identity and being able to build a system that honors you, fuels you and is specific …to you.
- Start formulating your own opinions and use your voice. This includes letting people know what you are and are not okay with. Letting people know when they are giving advice you haven’t asked for or who may be crossing over into your lane when it’s not their stuff. Also, give yourself permission to confidently disagree (when you actually do,ha). It’s not about being right. It’s about finally gifting yourself the freedom of expression. And then afterwards, working on having self-compassion as you navigate the shaky waters of shame and self-doubt.
5. Get your money right. Go talk to people who can actually help you. Research resources that will work with your lifestyle. These are available. You just have to feel worthy enough to follow through.
6. Which leads me to my next point – so much of our dependence has come from listening to someone else tell us we aren’t good enough or smart enough, our whole lives. That we will struggle in some way shape or form and that fear of failure is PARALYZING. This has also caused us to truly believe that being on our own will be incredibly difficult and practically impossible. I’m telling you from personal experience – IT. IS. NOT. TRUE. — The mindset work here is crucial.
7. Lastly, – the goal isn’t to become ‘so independent’ where you ‘don’t need anyone at all.’ The goal is for you to become a whole, solid person on your own without needing to depend on anyone else for your thoughts, opinions, decisions, shelter – etc. #FREEDOMAF
Lastly, — and this was a welcomed surprise:
I not only grew into becoming a whole person with major thoughts, opinions and desires that I felt securely proud of but I also actually really liked everything else that I found about myself.
I also now ‘need’ people a lot less.
Yes, I of course have my own wants and needs when it comes to my relationships/friendships but I no longer need them to be anything for me.
I no longer rely on their reaction of me to determine whether or not my opinion is valuable.
It’s all become a choice for me. There’s no social anxiety, blurry lines or dangling self-worth anymore.
I also learned to develop proper expectations and agreements with those around me.
Because I’ve given myself the permission to just be who I am, I now have the space for others to be who they are without silently needing them to constantly provide feedback that I’m doing okay.
I was also able to recognize my own behavior in wanting people to be dependent on me to avoid my own fear of abandonment.
Which was a really honest assessment but also very liberating.
I know this is a lot of work but it’s actually kind of exciting once you can shift your perspective.
Try seeing it as an experiment.
& stop focusing on other people’s stuff to avoid your own growth.
Make this time about you.
Let go of doing shit you don’t want to do and then let go of the guilt, too.
Develop your systems and thought processes to they can finally support you in your growth.
Use your voice.
And take up all the space you need.
PS – Ready to learn more from me? Please join my FREE FB Group HERE and also join the waitlist for my signature program; The Scapegoat Daughter’s Guide, HERE, — where you can finally spend that intentional time getting to know yourself in a safe container with all the resources you’ll need.