Independence Does Not Mean Isolation

Isn’t the concept of Independence a strange thing?

I’ve been pondering on it a lot recently. Not about myself at the start, but that did come as a  result.

Striving For Independence

From an early age we strive to be independent. We want shot of parental control, to earn our own money, buy our own things, make our own decisions, set goals which will define our happiness and sense of achievement in life.  Often in that mix is the passion to do it by ourselves, rely on no-one; to be independent. To be masters of our own destiny.

But if we’re not careful, striving to be independent can be isolating.

The Common Mistake: Isolation

A mistake that many make in their attempt to be independent is to extract themselves from the outside world in the belief that asking for help is a sign of weakness.

Quite the opposite seems to be the case. Independence, whether it’s on a personal or professional level, requires a constant exchange with outside forces and influences.

Without something or someone to challenge our ideas and approaches in life we can soon lose a sense of reality. It’s important to remain real. Along with planning ahead aren’t we also told to live the moment? But what if that moment is fraught with struggle or a sense of being alone?

Strength Through Connections

I’m very much in favour of people doing whatever they want to do as long as their ideas, actions and rewards are positive and, at the very least, something to learn from. That comes through robust validation; often through good and bad experiences. And those things that, in whatever way, don’t hold up to our own or others’ scrutiny tend to fall by the wayside.

Think of countries who strive for independence. It’s not simply that they want shot of their current overlord. It’s more the fact that they want to self-govern. To be in control of who they interact with culturally, politically and economically. But they cannot be independent & exist in the long-term if they isolate themselves.

That’s where I think independence truly lies. The ability for each of us to self-govern. To form and challenge our identity or purpose through meaningful exchanges with others. To forge alliances. Without those alliances we become isolated and gradually become weaker. We may then start to lack confidence and self worth, feeling powerless against others (which is the very reason why we wanted to be independent in the first place!).

Therefore, if we want to remain strong and to grow in both our personal and professional lives we need to establish good relationships with people beyond our immediate circle.

Sometimes these exchanges will be based on genuine mutual appreciation. Other times these may be more economically or politically biased but we know there is a tangible benefit for each party which far outweighs trying to operate alone. This can cover everything from simple support to finding additional like-minded people through to accessing skills we don’t possess.

And maybe that is where our drive comes from. If we know why we’re doing something, who and what can help us to do that, then managing and cultivating those relationships makes genuine sense, all the time moving ourselves and our plans forward our way.

Michael Laffey Life Coach, Michael Laffey, Life Coach