Independence is celebrated and valued. It is taught by parents to their children, so they do not need anyone to depend on to make a life for themselves. It is taught by teachers to students, so they can think for themselves and not rely on the work of their classmates. Independence is self-reliance and self-sufficiency. It means that you assume all responsibility to provide, cultivate and nurture a life for yourself. You assume all rewards and take all losses. But there is an independence that is not so healthy.
This, what I call “unhealthy independence,” is derived from experiencing abusive, toxic relationships. It is a learned behavior based on painful past events of people dumping their issues on us with no intentions or sign of helping us through our challenging moments. It speaks the language of, “I will do it by myself. I don’t need anyone else.” It suspiciously looks at help as an insult because it trained our minds to expect that those who seek to help us usually has a string or two attached to their Samaritan efforts.
Unhealthy independence wears us out. It is afraid to receive help from others. It is prideful. It will have us struggle in silence when the very help we need is in reliable people around us. But it does not have to be this way.
Unhealthy independence must be unlearned. We must choose to believe that every person is not like our past traumatic experiences, and there are some great people in our lives. We must believe that receiving help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength, trust and vulnerability. We do not have to do life alone. It was not meant to be that way.