Being independent seems to be the goal of many women now, including myself. Although it’s nearly impossible to be entirely emotionally and financially independent, there are some possible mental and emotional health benefits of being independent in any way. Read below for my insight into mental health benefits and information from other sources.
1) Becoming independent in some way, small or big, can give you a sense of accomplishment if your goal is to become independent. For example, getting a job, paying for your own apartment and car are all steps toward independence. And the goal of being financially independent is clear-cut for the most part – if you’re paying for everything yourself, then you’re financially independent. This can also relieve feelings of guilt and the constant reminder that you owe money to someone. You’re paying for everything yourself, so there is no sense of needing to pay back others (unless you’re in debt or borrowed money). You control your income, so you don’t have to answer to anyone else. You can also be sure to get through hard times if you know how much money you have and are not depending on someone else who might fail. This is true of both depending on parents or spouses. One married woman wrote a blog post on ezinearticles.com about being financially independent and married, saying that financial independence lifts a weight off the shoulders of a spouse. If you’re independent, you don’t have to worry about being a burden to anyone.
2) Being emotionally independent is another story, but it can still be a goal to become less dependent on others for happiness at least. Greater emotional independence can mean less disappointment and suffering, since you’re not depending on other people to meet your emotional needs. Although social support is necessary, it’s different from emotional dependence. You can value other peoples’ company without being emotionally dependent. The Institute for Human Development’s website stated that “people who are more emotionally dependent tend to rely on getting good feelings about themselves from the outside rather than from within.” It also stated that emotional responsibility and independence is described as “recognizing that our feelings come from our own thoughts, beliefs and behavior, rather than from others or from circumstances. Once you understand and accept that you create your own feelings, rather than your feelings coming from outside yourself, then you can begin to take emotional responsibility.” This emotional responsibility can have positive changes in your life, according to the website. It stated that “instead of staying stuck in feeling angry, hurt, blaming, etc., you have moved yourself back into feeling safe and peaceful.”
3) An article on www.helium.com suggested that becoming more independent could increase confidence. The articles stated that “Independent people tend to be more confident, simply because they are prepared to do things without waiting for permission from or the support of someone else.”
4) Being financially and emotionally independent (or responsible) also means that you don’t have to fret about being single. You are OK with yourself, and you don’t need a significant other to complete you. If you do find someone you want to be with, it’s not because you need that person necessarily – he or she is just a great addition to your life. Relationships can sometimes be a compromise to independence. For example, an article in Seventeen magazine suggests that being single equals freedom. The article stated that “you're the boss, so do what makes you happy — nothing is stopping you. You can spend a day reading in the park or go to the movies by yourself without feeling guilty for wanting to be alone. You can pursue a new hobby without worrying about how time-consuming it is.” At the same time, you can still be independent within a relationship. Just remember to not compromise who you are and remain the same great person you were before the relationship and pursue the same goals (unless you personally decide to change them, not your partner).
5) Independence overall can help increase your self-esteem and your self-value, especially if it is a lifetime goal of yours to be independent. Although your self-esteem and self-value shouldn’t depend only on how independent you are, increasing independence can make you feel better in many cases. It can confirm your beliefs that you can be independent and successful on your own, that you are capable of accomplishing something.
What do you think are some mental and emotional health benefits of being independent?
Reviewed June 29, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Alison Stanton