“Man is his own star”*
What is Self-Reliance?
Oxford Dictionaries states it is:
“Reliance on one’s own powers and resources rather than those of others”.
This can be in the realms of housing, health care, mental health, parenting, fitness plus knowledge and skill development (education).
‘Others’ could mean; your parents/ a partner/ your children/shops/doctors/teacher. ‘Other’ is anyone or anything you seek recourse to for the fulfilment of basic needs in the above realms. Ask yourself how much do you depend on these others for the provision of your basic needs such as food provision, energy, health care even mental health and education? Most people are very reliant on external sources.
Where Has Self-Reliance Gone?
Words used to describe someone who lacks much self-reliance could be: flakey, weak, incompetent or dependent. Have you ever used these words to describe someone? We are not destined to be weak and full of excuses – too much comfort and care makes us this way! Like the girdle principle the more we are supported the weaker we become. We are actually optimised to survive yet its all too easy to learn to say ‘no’ or I’ can’t’ if someone else is there to pick up the pieces, if there is no real-world consequence to our inaction. In evolutionary biology – apes will continue to parent their children for longer if there is a safe environment to raise them. Plenty of food and no predators mean the parents allow the young apes to be reliant for much more and much longer than in times of adversity when the parents will expect the child to walk and seek his own food much earlier. This is so the mothers resources can spread between the other younger children and herself. As we have lived in times of plenty and with little threat over the last 60 years we have been increasingly allowed to become less capable especially earlier on in life by parents and by the state. Law also supports this, children can no longer be left alone, they cant work with machinery in the fields – they are safe, yes, but young people are becoming less competent at life skills. Busy parents are bombarded with images of bad consequences in sensationalist media so rarely allow their children to take ‘risks’; to light a fire or even make their own dinner today.
With increasing reports of possible disaster whether from economic break down, climatic event or terrorist attack this situation needs to be addressed. The governments own report the National Security Strategy suggests that in the event of a major national incident we should look to ‘foster domestic resilience’. But have we any left?!
We survived the second world war because people could light a fire, bake from scratch, grow veg, make things – all skills we don’t have now. How would you feed and heat your family without recourse to the above ‘others’?
Developing Greater Self-Reliance
It is often those who have had the toughest life situations that display greater self-reliance but how can others interested in improving their self-reliance and reducing their dependence on external sources begin?
One of the greatest facets of self-reliance is mind-set and a tough mind-set is usually the product of a ‘have to or die’ lifestyle where weakness, apathy, laziness and reliance on external people or resources are not an option. When no one is there to pick up the pieces of a lazy decision a person has no choice but to adapt or die, again its evolutionary biology. Life should be a struggle occasionally, you should be ok being more productive and efficient than relaxed and lazy. Accept that pain and discomfort are ok to endure occasionally and see it as strength giving. Develop a positive mental outlook to adversity and discomfort – seeing adversity in a positive light is the first step to transiting toward experiments in self-reliance. To those unaccustomed to adversity or discomfort even the slightest expectation of competence in a situation can reduce them to wails and tears. We have become ‘dumbed down by comfort’, but growth cannot happen without a bit of self-sacrifice or discomfort. Remember the girdle principle? Step 1 – Remove the support to develop your own muscle tone!
Another aspect of mind-set is self-talk – does your inner dialogue involve excuses? Im tired? I can do it later? Ive no money, Ive got the kids to look after? Ill do it when I lose some weight? Learn to hear the excuses in your head then dismiss them. Also, write down your common excuses. When we write our excuses down they can often seem lame, even more so if we have to show them to someone else. Accountability to others sometimes makes it harder to ‘opt-out’ and be flakey. Make your self-talk positive action-orientated like ‘ just do it’ and communicate your intentions to others to make it harder to back out. Step 2 – Write down your common excuses here:
_______________________________________________________________________ Now, pack them away!
Ridding Yourself of External Fetters to growth
Conversely excuses may come from external sources rather than inner dialogue – there may be certain people in our lives that allow and actually encourage us toward making these excuses to NOT become self-reliant, these people usually have their own agendas – ask yourself ‘do the people in my life encourage me towards independence and to ‘have-a-go’ or do they allow or make excuses why I shouldn’t? Get rid of all excuses whether they are your own or coming from external sources. Learn to ignore the nay sayers, its your right and your duty to become the best, strongest, fittest most compassionate intelligent person you can be in this life! If something or someone is holding you back from this, walk away. Is there anyone in your life who is suggesting you can’t or shouldn’t do something that will ultimately make you grow stronger? Step 3 – Don’t listen to the nay-sayers!
So, mind-set is the first point on our journey. Free yourself from crutches, excuses and things or people holding you back and embrace the negatives as challenges – then just do it!
Become the master of your work not the other way round – using time management tools such as automation, delegation, prioritisation, time blocking. Make a list each day, stop multitasking important jobs and focus on one at a time until completion, prioritising them according to deadline and then cross it off. Automate certain things like grocery shopping by creating a favourites list online and setting up a regular delivery, link all your email accounts to one inbox then create a to-do mailbox and simply drag those emails that need attention into the ‘to-do’ mailbox and ignore the rest, work only from your ‘to-do’ inbox. After dealing with them in the to-do box you can file drag them into other mailboxes – eg. newsletters, car, marketing tips, household, etc. Don’t consume other peoples ‘lifestyle’ blogs. Lifestyle blogs are just diaries of other peoples lives – you should be living your own! Instead become unashamedly relevant data hungry. There are even apps that condense texts whether written or audio into bitesized chunks of relevant data (factor analysing in psych speak) Same with tv viewing – how much time is wasted on inane passive tv consumption? Have a movie night two or even three times a week, watch a couple of specific documentaries but tv should be off the rest of the time. You should not sit for hours each night in front of a tv passively consuming calories and other peoples fictional life stories – if you have to bin it. My kids grew up with no TV If your kids are still young or you have no kids at home then you really don’t need a tv. You wont believe how much time you will free up to: make cheese? learn a language? watch you-tube videos about how to service your car? What self-empowerment activity would you do with this new free time?
Raise The Bar On Energy
Stop feeling tired and get more energy = diet/fitness/health all linked in – try reducing carbs including sugar and wheat and eat more veg and protein based eg. start the day with a green smoothie rather than toast. Having more energy to get things done makes saying yes to opportunities for growth easier as physical energy will be high enough to actually action it. In addition to more energy you will achieve better health and the best body shape for you. Simply add more physical activity to each day. With your new tv free evenings join a walking/cycling group to further increase stamina and fitness – this may seem paradoxical to someone who feels tired all the time, but unless you have an untreatable illness then usually expending energy begets more energy. Im a lifelong anaemic but