I grew up as a latch-key kid in a single-parent household. My mom worked quite a bit to make ends meet, but she had help raising me from my grandmother & aunt (as much as she was able to) up until I was 13 years old. When my grandmother passed away, my mother divided her time between working, trying to support me in the various ways I needed, & being a caregiver & support system for my aunt who was disabled & diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia.
Because of that, her teaching me not to be open or vulnerable to prevent the possibility of being taken advantage of (based on her upbringing & past experiences), & various other experiences including sexual abuse & trauma, I learned how to be hyper independent.
According to PsychCentral.com, hyper independence is “when you choose to be independent of everyone, even though it may negatively affect you.”
This shows up in a lot of my behaviors. I’m inclined to push people away or keep them at bay, spend a lot of time alone, rarely ask for help, & take on responsibilities that I don’t need to or accept accountability in instances where I am not responsible to do so. Google is my best friend & if I have an issue with anything that requires human assistance it takes me a bit to lose my nature & ask. But I will only ask once (maybe twice), to be honest, & I can get impatient while waiting for a response. Because I have a tendency to be results-oriented, I will find a way to do it myself if the help isn’t timely. This has shown up in my relationship with God as well; I’ve just recently started opening up in prayer again – trying to unlearn disconnection with God & trust Him again.
It’s kind of bad, the pandemic likely made it worse in some ways, & it wasn’t until recently (a little over a year ago) that I realized how much of an issue this actually is. I finally decided to be honest with myself about it & address it through therapy & actively do opposite behaviors as I have the courage to because of how it plays out in my relationships with others.
I began to realize how tired I was, both physically & emotionally, of doing most things (especially important things) on my own. It became even more apparent to me this past May when I graduated from college. Instead of inviting people to celebrate that & a work-related promotion, I didn’t really celebrate at all in order to spare myself the possible disappointment of people not showing up for me. If people like myself who are hyper independent are honest we can admit that we adopted this behavior in order to protect ourselves – from trauma, from disappointment, from pain.
Independence in & of itself is not a bad thing, & while hyper independence has gotten me through a lot of different struggles it has caused me to perpetually be in survival mode when we are supposed to live freely & healed. It caused me to train myself to dismiss my own needs a lot of times & find quick yet unhealthy ways to feel connected & fulfilled. It’s been reflected through weight gain & overstimulation – escaping through media or other means (such as oversleeping & overeating for example)… for me, anyway, but I’m sure someone can relate.
One thing I am happy about is the chance & ability to be self-aware & move toward positive changes, & one way I’ve been able to do that is through an app called Real. Real offers topic-specific pathways to give you the practical tools you need to actively reframe your mindset & get the healing/help you need. [No, I’m not sponsored by them & no, this is not a replacement for therapy/counseling, but I can honestly say that I have had a positive experience by using this app so far]. In the event you’re not able to afford the monthly cost of the app, there are plenty of helpful resources in the “Get Help” section of this site.
For those who struggle with hyper independence like myself, the bottom line is this, you are worthy of experiencing acts of service, you are worthy of being helped, it’s OK to ask for help, you are not a burden for needing help, & you will come across the right people who will generously do so. That is the truth that I can depend on & I’m so glad I got to this point. Sure, I’m still a work in progress, but I know this from experience over the last couple of years. Once I began to loosen my grip on self-protection, my perspective shifted – childhood traumas aren’t influencing my decisions nearly as much & the weight of independence is slowly but surely coming off of my shoulders (both literally & figuratively).
Learn more about the signs of hyper independence & while I discourage you from self-diagnosing or assigning any struggle to yourself without professional counsel, see if you can relate to any if not all of them, & then seek help as soon as possible.
If you subscribe to the Christian faith, I’d like to encourage you to seek support & connection with this verse from 1 Corinthians 12:20-27:
“As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
Make sure to follow me on Twitter @YNFinished & on Instagram @YNFCast to stay up to date on the latest podcast episodes & for more tips & encouraging content.
If you want to share your experience with hyper independence, or tell your story or journey as someone with a diagnosed mental health or mood disorder in order to connect with & encourage others, & you’re OK with that being shared on the YNF website, shoot an email to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact me through the site.
Anonymous submissions are welcome.
Have a great day & finish well!