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Is hyper-independence good or bad for mental health?

Being self-sufficient is widely praised in the society. But is constant hyper-independence good or bad for mental health?

Over the past years, people have started glorifying the concepts of ‘self-made’ and ‘single-handedly’. People gleam with pride when they call themselves self-sufficient. And if people come across someone seeking help either from his or her romantic partner, a parent who feels the need to hire domestic help, or a young lad accepting financial help from his parents, we label that person “needy” and develop distaste towards his or her choice of life, as if dependence is a sign of weakness. There is no denying the fact that being self-sufficient is a great life skill to earn, but this notion can get too far for some people who are unwilling to accept any help or support, even when needed, from someone else. That concept is called hyper-independence.

This notion can deter a person’s mental well-being and has a direct impact on his relationships or career. If you find yourself in this state of mind, you must know everything about hyper-independence, what it feels like and whether it needs attention from the mental health point of view.

What is hyper-independence?

Excessive or extreme reliance on the self to the extent of never asking for assistance or support from others is the hallmark of the hyper-independent behavioural style. Financial, mental, physical, or emotional help are all examples of forms of support. It frequently shows a strong dislike of dependence, an inability to ask for or accept help, and a propensity to handle everything on one’s own, even when it is burdensome or unneeded. Hyper-independent people are willing to gamble with their bodily or mental well-being, but they will not accept assistance from others, says psychologist and psychotherapist Priyanka Kapoor.

Being independent in every sphere of life makes us feel good, but hyper-independence is a bad thing. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Is hyper-independence a trauma response?

Hyper-independence can be attributed in part to the trauma response. People who have been betrayed, abandoned, or have not had enough assistance in the past may become overly independent as a coping strategy to keep themselves safe from harm in the future. Hyper-independence can also be a result of severe financial hardship in childhood, dysfunctional families, bullying at home or school, and inattentive parenting.

Side effects of hyper-independence

Acting overly self-sufficient or hyper-independent can have its own share of repercussions. Some of the negative effects of hyper-independence include:

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1. Weariness

One becomes overly independent and takes on excessive obligations, which can wear one out both mentally and physically, says the expert. When you go about life handling everything on your own, you will naturally feel drained or depleted of your energy. This can leave very little space or room for that much-needed “me-time” in your life. And, not getting that often will leave you tired and frustrated with everything in life.

2. May create a rift in connections

Hyper-independent people also avoid asking for assistance or support, which can cause a rift in connections with friends, family, and coworkers and result in strained or superficial interactions, says the expert. When we blatantly turn down someone’s humble offer to lend help, we can often make the opposite person feel offended. Others can consider this action of ours thinking that we are ignoramus or maybe that the other person is insufficient to help us. This can harm our well-built connections as our loved ones are our well-wishers and only step forward to help us make our lives better.

3. May lead to increased stress

Hyper-independence exacerbates loneliness, stress, anxiety, and depression. As a result, it affects both their physical and professional well-being. Our effort to be on our own always can, after some point, leave us feeling lonely or depressed. After constantly denying other people’s offers of help, we may end up in a very lonely space with no one to help us when we might actually need it.

4. May hinder room for growth

Refusing assistance can reduce your chances of growing personally and gaining knowledge from others. We always learn a lot by observing or being around people who are far ahead of us in real life. When we always stay in a state of denial, we also tend to hinder room for our personal growth. This is because less social interaction will make us less likely to learn and improve in the areas where we are flawed.

5. Adjustment and acceptance issues

Hyper-independence may result in thoughts and cognitive processes that are both rigid and flexible, which may cause problems with adjustment and non-acceptance. When we live only in our space, we become very accustomed to our way of living and thinking. And being there for so long has a high chance of making us rigid or non-flexible. So, we there comes a time that we have to incorporate other people in our life, personally or professionally, we find it very hard to adapt to their ways of living.

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Additionally, this may cause them to become perfectionists in all spheres of their lives, including their relationships, jobs, and daily activities, adds the expert.

Hyper-independence can be a really stressful behavior. Image courtesy: Freepik

What to do if you believe you are hyper-independent?

If you feel that you have traits of a hyper-independent person, that awareness can help you do better and know better in order to deal with the issue appropriately. Here are some ways you can deal with hyper-independence:

1. Self-reflection

Examine your prior experiences and traumas to gain insight into the underlying causes of hyper-independence. You must dig into your past to notice patterns that have led to the very person that you become today. Notice them, and do your best in terms of actions and changed thinking to break free from that loop of familiar behaviour that has become our comfort zone.

2. Incorporate gradual change

Begin modest by accepting assistance with little chores, and then progressively expand your willingness to depend on other people, reckons the expert. Self-change is never easy it is the hardest to do. Start small as you wish to progress to bigger changes in life. This will stop you from getting overwhelmed.

3. Therapy

A therapist’s expert assistance can address underlying problems and offer techniques to foster trust and reduce the fear of showing weakness. Therapy techniques like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) will help change your thinking pattern which will result in a changed behavior.

4. Establish trust

Put your attention on establishing trust in close relationships by being honest about your needs and anxieties, reckons the expert. Denying help from other people could stem from the fact that we think of them as incapable or insufficient to help. Give your loved ones at least one chance to start with to let them show that they are capable.

5. Establish boundaries

Acquire the skill of establishing sound boundaries that promote both interdependence and independence. Take help when needed but do not go overboard while trying to change yourself. If you feel you can manage it all alone, state that clearly to the other person and do not try to oblige them by taking help.

6. Delegate responsibilities

Get comfortable assigning responsibilities to others and admitting that working together can be advantageous, suggests Priyanka Kapoor. If you can handle some part of the work and need help with the other, feel free to delegate responsibilities for that.

7. Indulge in self-compassion

Practice self-compassion and understand that asking for assistance is a step toward living a balanced life rather than a sign of weakness. Be kind towards yourself as you metamorphose into a different person. You will falter, you will fall but dare to stand up again for yourself and a better life by learning to be okay while seeking help.

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