Build Your Self-Reliance

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help thinking that people who want to be more productive and successful need an extra helping of self-reliance. Why? Because the vast majority of people are not very productive or successful, and it takes better than average self-reliance to depart from that well-trodden path, strike out more-or-less on your own, and find your way to your goals.

Some of us, of course, are born with lots of self-reliance. But if you weren’t, don’t fret. Self-reliance is a trait that’s fairly easy to cultivate and strengthen.

Here are some methods for building up and maintaining your self-reliance:

Accept Yourself

It’s hard to develop your self-reliance if you don’t like your self. That’s why any effort to become more self-reliant must begin with a look inward: to see who you really are and to discover in detail what’s good and likeable about you.

It’s also helpful to supplement this inward look with a review of your past efforts and accomplishments.

As part of self-acceptance, you can devote more energy to accurately identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and to steadily improving your skills, knowledge, and abilities.

Together, what you discover about your inner feelings, values, motivations, and priorities plus your abilities and track record in the world will nearly always provide a solid basis to admire and like the person you are.

If, however, what you discover about yourself is perhaps not as likeable as you want it to be, you may want to rethink some of who you are and make appropriate adjustments so you can begin to like yourself more.

Accept Your Situation

Unless you’re living alone on a desert island, you’re almost certainly involved in a web of relationships, including people who depend on you and people on whom you depend. Self-reliance is not about cutting through this web or isolating yourself from family, friends, colleagues, and/or society. Instead, it’s about seeing this web of relationships more clearly, considering various adjustments to improve or reduce any dependencies you don’t like, and making the most of your individuality where you can.

For example, we all depend on a web of food production and delivery systems to get our daily sustenance. However, in today’s world it would be a major burden to try and grow all your own food. On the other hand, many people depend heavily on a web of pundits, experts, and influencers to get their ideas and opinions about what’s going on in the world around them. This can readily be changed. It’s perfectly possible to demote these pundits, experts, and influencers to mere “advisors,” and begin to take greater personal responsibility over what you think and the choices you make.

Doing this same kind of thing for important parts of your life is usually a major driver of self-reliance.

Enjoy Your Inner Life

Another aspect of self-reliance is the amount of pleasure and satisfaction we derive simply from experiencing our thoughts and feelings. In today’s “material” society, there’s pressure to get our pleasure and satisfaction from external things: our car, home, wardrobe, jewelry, and many other possessions.

That’s not the road to self-reliance.

Deriving your feelings of self-worth and happiness from your inner – rather than outer (“material”) – life tends to produce a longer-lasting, more stable, profound, and meaningful sense of satisfaction. Accepting who you are is the first step toward this level of enjoyment, and the second is following a path that better reflects your inner self.

Run Your Own Life

Few of us have the freedom to do everything we like and nothing we don’t like. But even so, taking more control over the things you do, the places you go, and the people with whom you spend time tends to strengthen your self-reliance.

You can do this by trying to do more of the following:

  • Solving – or at least coordinating the solving of – your problems on your own.
  • Following your own rules and guidelines for behavior (within social bounds, of course).
  • Scheduling and managing your own time.
  • Reaching your own conclusions and developing your own opinions.
  • Selecting your own friends and acquaintances.
  • Finishing what you start.
  • Taking responsibility for your activities of daily living.

The more effectively you work to have your outer life express what you think and feel in your inner life, the more self-reliant you will become. 

Cultivate a Self-Reliant Personality

One of simplest ways to improve your self-reliance is to try and behave more like the kind of person on whom others can consistently rely, and who solves many of your own problems without waiting for others to solve them for you.

If you make a point of regularly exhibiting these two traits, your self-reliance will steadily grow.

Fundamentally, self-reliance involves thinking independently, feeling comfortable with who you honestly are, and working toward your own – rather than dictated or induced – goals. Generally speaking, the more often you can do this in your work and your life, the happier, more productive, and more successful you’ll be.

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