BEING YOUR OWN HERO | Is Independence a Good Thing or a Defense Mechanism?

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Hello Magical Souls, welcome to this week’s episode of The Soul’s Human Experience Podcast. I apologize if my voice sounds any different, I was involved in a freak accident where I accidently was hit by a blanket and injured my throat. But anyway, this week’s topic is whether or not being your own hero is a good thing or a defense mechanism. I feel that I can speak about this from personal experience because I am a hyper-independent person. I always have been. And up until maybe a year or two ago, I had always thought of it as a good thing. Then I heard that it’s a trauma response and I reevaluated how I thought about it, as well as asking myself, well is it a trauma response? Is it a defense mechanism that’s trying to keep me safe from experiencing that again? 

For me personally, I think it’s a result of a couple of things. One, there was a lot of independence growing up when it came to certain things. One thing that comes to mind is something as small as meals. Everyone was responsible for getting their own plate out of the cabinet and then putting the food on it yourself. Another one I can think of is after high school I had to learn how to apply to college and figure out that whole process all on my own. So basically I was navigating a lot by myself. The second thing is that as a kid, anytime I went to a friend’s house, I was always told to not make anyone go out of their way for me while I was a guest there. To me, that meant that I was not really worthy of eating any of their food and that I should stay small so I wouldn’t get in anyone’s way. I think subconsciously I took it as I was an inconvenience. So I think both of these things led to me being hyper-independent. And what it has looked like for me as an adult is having a really difficult time asking for help. If I have to ask someone for help, that is a really big deal for me. It’s something that I had to do when my book came out last November, because I needed to find people to read it and endorse it. It was really uncomfortable for me to have to reach out to people and ask them to spend their time reading it and then also writing about it, because in my mind it was me inconveniencing them, asking them to go out of their way for me, something I was told I should never do. It definitely feels like taking a risk too, because when you ask someone to do that, and if they don’t, then you can feel like you weren’t worthy enough. The majority of the people I asked said yes and were happy to do it, but there were no’s and possibly even worse, when someone says yes and then never does it. I think for many people, hyper-independence comes from a fear of being hurt and disappointed by others. And I can most definitely relate to that also. So as a defense mechanism, as a way to protect yourself and keep yourself safe from the pain of being let down by other people, by simply not asking for help. Probably where the saying if you want something done right you have to do it yourself comes from. I know many times I’ve justified that by thinking that it will take more effort than it’s worth to ask for help so I just won’t. Not being able to depend on others would then lead you to believe that the only person you can depend on is yourself. And feeling like no one has your back. Not feeling like you can put trust in other people a lot of the time, could lead to feeling alone.

And you know I always like to throw in the societal programming piece. I think our society does reward independence. Being able to say, I did it all myself, I didn’t have any help, all the suffering and sacrifice I made, I did it all on my own. That is generally applauded. And the truth is, at some point or another, we all help each other. So it’s unlikely that there even is such a thing as accomplishing it all on your own. But that might be a can of worms for another time.

Another reason why someone might be hyper-independent is because asking for something might be seen as transactional. If you do get the courage to ask for help, then it might feel like you are in debt to that person and owe them something back. When in reality, most people are happy to help other people. According to psychology, asking someone for a favor makes that person like you. I believe the opposite is also true, and again I’m speaking from experience here. Because I hardly do it, I’ve been told in the past that people think I’m cold and that I don’t like them. When from my perspective, I just don’t want to be seen as needy or weak or dependent. It’s interesting how those two perspectives of the same thing are so vastly different. 

But I also want to talk about the positives of being independent. Because I definitely don’t think it’s all bad, rather there are some really great reasons for it. And obviously there are varying degrees of being independent, there’s no one size fits all for any of this. Everyone’s experiences are going to be different and unique. So, the title of this episode, being your own hero. Being able to be your own hero and being okay being alone are being talked about more and more. I do think it’s great to be able to enjoy your own company, which is probably easier for introverts than extroverts, but not having to always need others to be happy is a beautiful practice. And being your own hero means not waiting on anyone else to rescue you in any way. Don’t wait for someone to buy you flowers, buy them for yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to plan the most epic birthday for you, plan it yourself. When you do that you take your power back. You don’t put your power in the hands of someone else, letting them decide for you how happy or upset you’ll be. And there’s no waiting or wishing or hoping. If there’s something you want, you should feel fully empowered to give it to yourself and be able to enjoy it just as much as it it had come from someone else. When it comes to social media, this is extremely relevant. You put yourself out there hoping for validation from others in some way. But there is so much peace in not needing that validation from anyone. Your value doesn’t come from other people. You’re already valuable exactly as you are. This is honestly why I struggle so much to show up on Instagram stories, because I get nothing out of showing people what I ate for dinner or whatever it is. It makes no difference to me whether zero people see it or a thousand people see it. But on the flip side, I can forget that the people viewing it might be getting something out of it. Even if it’s just that they find it interesting or enjoyable. Should I post more to Instagram stories? Let me know. But it can be very easy to confuse your number of followers with your value, and needing it to be a certain threshold that you’ve decided is what you’re value is. Then you feel validated. Or you don’t if it’s not there. 

My suggestion for all of these, whether you identify as hyper-independent, hyper-dependent, or somewhere in between, is to try and find a happy medium. It’s ok and it’s good to ask for help, and it’s also good and ok to know that you don’t need to rely on other people. It’s good to be your own hero and it’s good to let others be heroic for you sometimes. It’s good to share your light whether that’s on social media or some other way and receive that connection, but it’s also good to know that you don’t need to in order to feel validated and valuable. You get the picture, there will be times for both sides. It’s something I’m working on, to find more of a balance, especially with asking for help. It’s interesting because from the flip side, I don’t have any issue helping other people. I love to help people, and more specifically helping people heal is my passion. I’m sure you know that if you’re listening to this. But when it comes to me asking for help, it’s something I’m still working on. As I spoke about in one of my recent tiktoks, I believe that life is always giving us opportunities to heal. So on that note, Id love to practice receiving and ask for your help. It would completely make my day if you took one minute of your time to leave a quick rating and review of the show. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am and if you are and you would be so kind as to tell me about it, that would mean a lot to me. And as always, I’m available by email and on instagram to answer your questions. I hope you’re taking good care of yourself this week and I’ll see you next week.