Today we are more connected than ever. Technology makes it possible to reach anyone at any minute of the day. Social media, text, email, and even that outdated device “the telephone” provide outlets for us to connect with another human whenever the feeling strikes. With so many tools available to us to reach out to others it begs the question. Why are so many of us feeling alone?
Some may argue that it’s because we’ve become more automated. That our emotional responses are limited to emoticons and rarely exceed 140 characters. I don’t argue with these suggestions. In fact, I’m sure that they play a role in our diminishing capacity to reach out to others in meaningful, heartfelt ways. Still I’m convinced it’s something else. Maybe it’s that we have so many tools at our disposal meant to fill us with false joy and insignificant love that we’ve forgotten how to be self-reliant.
“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
― Michel de Montaigne
To be self-reliant is an odd concept for people to latch onto because we’re programmed to have our physical and emotional needs met by others. When we’re ill, we go to the doctor. When we’re sad, we turn to our loved ones. When we need money, we take out a loan. When we need, we get. Or do we? What are we really getting?
In a recent blog post, I wrote about these emotionally heavy days that I had been experiencing frequently. They went away for a while and earlier this week they came back with added weight. I needed reassurance that some of career choices I made were sound. I needed encouragement that I was loved and a good parent. I needed all these things and I should have gotten what I needed because the world owes me that. Right? Big. Fat. Wrong.
I didn’t get the encouragement I wanted. I didn’t get the reassurance I craved. Why didn’t I get this? Well, a hard truth smacked me in the face. I didn’t get the support I expected because I wasn’t looking inside. I was expecting others to be there for me when I wasn’t there for myself.
Here’s what I’ve come to believe as my truth.
Not everyone is always going to be there for you in the way that you want them to. Some days, no matter how much you need it, the love, support, and encouragement you want from others may fall flat. Sometimes this is because these people aren’t good for you. Please walk away from these people. Release them back into the pool and let them swim to others who are a better match.
Most times, though, it’s not that our people don’t love us or want the best for us. Perhaps they aren’t responding in a way that makes us feel warm and fuzzy because that they can’t read our minds or moods. They don’t know what we need. Other times, they may have something going on in their lives making them emotionally unavailable at the exact moment you need them. That’s why we have to stop putting so much power in other people’s hands. We have to stop allowing our happiness to depend on others.
We have to be emotionally self-reliant. But how?
It’s a journey, my friends. One that after 40 years on this planet I am finally taking and I’d love to have you join me. Here are few ideas I have that might help those of us who look outward for reassurance to start building up an inner strength that is supportive and loving.
Invite Stillness into Your Life
Stillness is something that I struggle with both physically and mentally. I need to move constantly or I feel sluggish, bored, and prone to overthinking. Calming my mind is a challenge too. I’ve tried meditating, focusing just on breathing or repeating an inspiring mantra over and over again.
It works for exactly three seconds.
Then my monkey mind goes to work distracting me from calmness followed by all hell breaking loose. Monkeys are swinging from vine to vine and I’m lost in the chaos. I’m not giving up, though. I may never be able to reach a state of total mental calm, but learning to come back to my breath in times of stress, chaos, and uncertainty is something that will ground me. I’ve learned that I don’t need anyone else to help me calm down. Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz that power has always been within me.
We have the power to use our gifts, our words, and our hearts to cultivate a world that is filled with joy. I know there is suffering in the world. Bad things happen to everyone. But we all deserve happiness. Sometimes we live in unhappy situations because we’ve forgotten what makes us sparkle. We’ve forgotten our worth. No one else is responsible for your happiness. Sorry, my friends, that falls on your shoulders. But I know you’re strong and you have the ability to create a world that deflects the bad and invites the good. We’re worthy of whatever we want.
Stop Seeking Validation
Wanna cookie? Remember that question that someone would pose to you after you bragged about something great you just did for the sake of being praised? Well, really, is that what you want? A cookie? Anyone can give you a cookie and pat you on the back, but when we seek validation from others we’re not boosting our self-reliance meter. We’re saying, My accomplishment is only as good as how my (fill in the blank here with any relationship type) feels about what I achieved. Not everyone is going to appreciate the fact that you completed your first 5K, made a donation to charity, or even got out of bed on a really bad day. When we fall into the trap of seeking validation, we fall out of touch with who we really are.
It’s time to be there for YOU, my loves. We are worthy. We are emotionally strong. We are self-reliant. Share this message with your friends and family. Let’s create a world where we love each and love ourselves in equal measure.
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Piper Punches is an author of fiction and truth, tackling topics on social justice, mindful living, creativity, and the writing life. She is the Amazon bestselling author of The Waiting Room, and the short story, Missing Girl. Her newest book, 60 Days (Missing Girl Series — Book 1) is currently available on Amazon. For a limited time, readers can sign up to get a free copy of Missing Girl here.