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Declare your own Independence Day

independenceHi, now that most in the US have passed through the July 4th holiday I truly hope you enjoyed the time off.

I thought I would pen some short words in the afterglow about personal independence.

So what does ‘personal independence’ mean?

The definitions of ‘independence’ at are many:

  1. Not being influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself.
  2. Not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction; autonomous; free
  3. Not influenced by the thought or action of others.
  4. Not dependent; not depending or contingent upon something else for existence, operation, etc.
  5. Not relying on another or others for aid or support.
  6. Rejecting others’ aid or support; refusing to be under obligation to others.
  7. Possessing a competency.

So in regards to ‘Personal’ independence, the ones I think are most relevant are ‘not controlled or influenced by others’ thoughts and actions’

Just consider how you interact with others – to the extent you do so, are your thoughts and actions dependent on what they say or do?

If you have a relationship to preserve or a contract to honor, the value of that agreement needs to be considered, and to that extent, your freedom or independence is curtailed.

However remember that it was usually a voluntary agreement by you in the first place. If the agreement is not serving you, request to dissolve the agreement amicably.

If what someone says to you makes you angry, believe it or not that was a choice by yourself, not them! You could choose not to be angry and thus make yourself independent of their actions.

Remember both independence and dependence, like anything you think or do, are a choice.

The other definition that I think is interesting is that of ‘competence.’ Essentially, when you are competent at something you do not need to rely on others in this area.

For instance I am a shocking gardener – I am not motivated at all to keep the garden clean and so I am dependent on a competent gardener to come and maintain my garden. If I chose to become more competent at gardening I would not need a gardener. Again, my choice!

If you want financial independence, strive to become competent at finances. Or at least in locating reliable financial advice. Many people think that earning a lot of money is financial independence. Or they think that working for yourself, not at a job, is financial independence. In reality, most people who are financially independent have multiple income sources that require very little maintenance to keep them going. Yet others who may appear to earn huge salaries have only one source: if that source suddenly disappears, they are down a hole!

Often people who are highly dependent on something (for example, welfare payments) exhibit what is commonly referred to as ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. Stockholm Syndrome is where the victims of a terror attack or other such event develop a psychological attachment to their attackers. At a milder level, welfare recipients exhibit this behavior. If they dare to criticize the system, they fear their payments will be taken from them.

Speaking more generally, the more dependent you are on something or someone, the less likely you are to to do anything that will jeopardize that relationship. Often this is seen as a survival strategy rather than a strategy to thrive. It takes real courage to break the bonds of dependency.

So how do you issue your own ‘Personal Declaration Of Independence?’

Well, undertake to do the following things:

  1. Enter all agreements with your eyes open. Make sure both parties benefit by the agreement, not one at the expense of the other. (The ‘Win-Win’ scenario)
  2. Examine your finances – find ways of reducing or eliminating any debt. Increase the number of income sources.
  3. Every day examine what you are doing and ask yourself, ‘what can I do to reduce my dependence on… (insert your ‘thing’ here)

Remember, however, you cannot cut yourself off completely from society. Part of all human needs is the need to socialize and have relationships. The key to independence is ensuring you are not ‘dependent’ on others for your desired outcome.