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  • Isara Moriya

Mindfull x Shield - Teen Independence…(in the spirit of Independence Day)

“With great power comes great responsibility.” Independence is both freeing and terrifying. It can feel like a superpower - like your newfound freedom gives you the power to do anything and everything you ever wished for. But being independent, as you realize with time, is not as glorious as your brain makes it out to be. As we face hardship, independence, and novel responsibilities, how can we be more mindful of ourselves and get the best outcome of that time? Independence in the familial, social, and personal circles and relationships can all benefit. 

The Opposite of Independence - Codependence

It is not the exact opposite of independence, but codependence is a psychological concept that refers to a “dysfunctional relationship dynamic where one person assumes the role of the ‘giver,’ sacrificing their own needs and well-being for the sake of the other, ‘the taker’” (Psychology Today). Codependent relationships are one-sided and unhealthy, especially for the giver who takes on the responsibility of adapting to every physical and emotional need of the opposite party. Often these tendencies live within individuals who were brought up in dysfunctional families or were responsible for taking care of another person who had a mental illness, battled with addiction, etc. 

Before we move forward, it is crucial to point out that codependence stems from basic, healthy human behavior. The act of caring for others is not inherently wrong. Quite the opposite, helping others is a generous act that should not be looked down upon or scrutinized. However, it can be harmful if the one helping is compromising their own health. It is human nature to want to connect with others and maintain those connections. 

Set Your Boundaries

“Boundary” has a negative connotation to it, but setting boundaries can ironically make your quality of life better and improve relationships. Setting boundaries allows space for you to speak up and shows that you can listen to your body’s physical and emotional needs. This also establishes how you want to be treated and how others should treat you. By making boundaries, you establish how you want to be respected by others. 

As a people-pleaser myself, it can be hard to set boundaries. When you have spent your life ignoring your needs, complying with others’ emotional needs, and helping others before yourself, it is a challenge to set up boundaries and not feel guilty about them. Consistency and persistence is key. With this skill, you become more independent and feel safer expressing your needs. 

Learn Communication Skills

Basic communication skills can go a long way. Independent individuals must communicate to fend for themselves, establish their needs, connect with others, understand their needs, and act accordingly. Not only is communication essential in close relationships, but such skills are necessary in the workplace and professional environments as well. Just like any other skill, communication takes practice. For a further dive into better communication, PsychCentral offers tips and skills to work on for more effective communication.

Talking with people is the first step to making connections and friends. Therefore, improving communication could boost social well-being as well as confidence.

Understand What You Can and Can’t Control

Going back to codependency, it can be hard to watch your loved ones make decisions that hurt them or that you believe are bad for them. But remember, you do not have control of another person’s actions or emotions. You only have control over your own emotions and actions. Giving another person space to act for themselves, giving them independence, may be freeing for you in the long run. Losing control, over anything, is tough at first. But know that you are tougher than you give yourself.

Contrarily, you may feel more like the person being controlled. You may feel burdened and trapped, forced to listen to a voice that is not your own. In this situation, it is crucial to express these emotions through words in a neutral environment. In most cases, the controlling person does it out of love and concern for your well-being. Those emotions, you have no control over. However, conversing and negotiating are actions you have control over, which you can initiate to try and gain more independence. 

Get Good At the Basics

Basic skills for living also show yourself and others that you can be independent, which brings confidence and assurance within yourself and the people around you. Some basic skills include maintaining good personal hygiene, managing your time, regulating your emotions, and completing your chores and tasks.

Nobody is perfect at these things, and we can all be neglectful of our health or time management at times. What matters is consistency and the actions you take to try and be better. Even if you find yourself procrastinating, scheduling your days and making to-do lists prove you are trying to better yourself. Before you realize it, you will get better at these skills. 

Closing Points

At some point in our lives, we must become independent. If you are moving to a different state away from family, or you just started a part-time job, these steps towards adulthood and independence feel liberating and scary at the same time. On top of this, dealing with the judgmental eyes of friends and family can be difficult during such transitions, especially when you yourself feel unsure about everything. To avoid judgment and control, we can improve ourselves and gain skills that mark an independent person. 

Relationships are difficult, as they do not depend solely on one person’s efforts. Therefore, communication is key, on top of improving upon personal skills. Once you start changing, others around you will have to change. 

Writer: Isara Moriya




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