A simple and precise self-reliance definition is being able to rely on yourself when the need arises in the various aspects of life. It is being able to use your internal resources to give meaning to your life or fulfillment.
Self-reliance is being able to understand that everything you desire in this life, all solutions you seek to your challenges, and every decision you have to make are all within you.
You are self-reliant when you follow your instincts. When you can come up with your own ideas and follow them without conforming to external influence. It is being able to live life on your own terms and able to face all consequences to your own decisions without having anyone to blame.
When you were a baby, your parents gave you a hand to support you whenever you tried to stand and walk. After gaining balance and stability, you could walk on your own. They stopped giving you support because they understood the power you had gained.
If a baby is born without legs, then the parents have no reason to try helping it walk. But because they see the legs, they understand that the baby will be able to walk at some point.
The ability to walk is therefore predicted by having legs. In the same faith, your ability to be self-reliant is the presence of those things that can help you rely on yourself. Your sane mind is sure proof of your ability to make decisions on your own.
We have an inner man or personal genius within us that is capable of shaping the life we really want to live on earth. Unfortunately, society takes grip of our minds when we are still young and shapes us into what it wants us to be.
When you were young, your parents thought for you. They decided what you were to eat, wear, and when you were supposed to sleep. Until they believed you were capable of making your own decisions, they kept hold of your mind. Just like when you were still a baby trying to walk.
When they finally let you be independent, you had the choice to make your own decisions then. However, few parents raise their children to be self-reliant. Many raise them to depend on them or someone else.
Now that you are given the power to decide who you want to be, how you want to speak, the thoughts you want to think, what you want to do, or the life you want to live, it is your choice to make your decision from within or from without.
Unfortunately, many fail to make their own decision due to the inability to rely on themselves. It is at this stage that many fall prey to conformity. They decide to do as society dictates. They look for solutions, counsel, help, and decisions from society or people around them.
Even when many of the decisions, actions, or beliefs from society contradict who they really are, they ignore their inner instincts and ideas and go with what society asks of them.
When we are born in a physical body, there is an inner genius within us as young as our bodies. Often times our inner genius gets stagnant and outgrown by our bodies. It is that inner genius that is supposed to give us wisdom, power, decision-making abilities, willfulness, self-reliance, intellect, security, and maturity.
But because many parents do not give attention to our inner genius to help it grow, we miss out on the opportunity to rely on it when we are finally free to decide for ourselves. Because the inner genius is unnurtured, we feel less confident in ourselves to live life on our terms so we take the easy way. That is following what society says.
However, there is the highway as well, digging deep within to heal our inner child or genius and help it grow so we can rely on it. It is the genius within us that we can rely on to be self-reliant
Main points of self-reliance
Having maturity means being responsible for your actions. It means holding yourself accountable for everything that happens to you. Self-reliant people are mature enough to influence their situation from within and take responsibility without trying to find someone or something to shift the blame to. Maturity encompasses being spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially mature.
2. Intellectual power
Developing the power of your intellect to think and operate beyond conventionalism and be able to decipher what is right from what everyone thinks is right.
3. Overcoming your insecurities.
Having the power to overcome the things that make you feel less worthy is power. We all have deep-rooted insecurities that eat us up every time a situation they apply to arises. You might feel insecure about your height, financial status, decision-making abilities, or anything but if you do not face it or accept yourself for who you are, you can’t change the root cause of the insecurity then it will affect you and other aspects of your life.
Be able to stand up and leave the table on which what is being served doesn’t sit well with your conscience. Conform to society only when your soul is okay with it. You should not agree with everything due to fear of rejection or being ostracized. Nonconformity is the bridge that connects your soul to your mind and body to achieve fulfillment. Conforming to become someone you are not is suicide to the soul.
5. Free thought.
Be able to think without external influences from society, religion, authority, political beliefs, and any other beliefs. It is by free thought that we can make independent decisions.
Be confident in yourself and in your abilities. Exercise the power of trusting yourself, your ideas, and your instincts. Your abilities begin to trust and serve you when you begin to trust them. And just like how confidence and trust grow in anyone, they also grow in your abilities.
When you show confidence in yourself to make a decision and it goes south on you, give yourself more chances. That is how your inner genius grows. Through attempts of trying and failing, your inner genius develops the abilities that make you self-reliant.
Levels of self-reliance
Self-reliance is a value that grows as you nurture and practice it. Just like a skill, the more you train the better you get at it. At some point, the best public speakers were beginners who went on to develop their public speaking abilities so they can rely on them. Self-reliance is a value you have to exercise in everything you do and it has the levels below.
Self-reliance for beginners.
At some point, everything on earth had a beginning. Every belief or skill in us started at some point in life. In the same way, self-reliance has a start in your life at some point. Some begin to cultivate the value of self-reliance at a later stage in life, others begin to do it as early as childhood. Whatever the stage, it is never too late.
If you want to run 10km, as a beginner, your physical strength and endurance may not be enough to support you. But if you begin with walking then upgrade to jogging, soon enough you will be able to run 10km by yourself.
Self-reliance starts in the same way, start with the easy ways to rely on yourself. Choose to decide what to eat or where without any external influence. Do the small tasks without delegating to anyone. For example, if you want a glass of water, walk to the refrigerator and get it without sending anyone. It is through these small attempts to rely on yourself that you will upgrade to the intermediate level of self-reliance.
Self-reliance for the intermediate
As they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. You made the step to rely on yourself in the simplest of tasks or decisions. These simple tasks and decisions now give you the confidence to upgrade to complex tasks to execute and decisions to make.
If you could decide on what to wear or eat without external influence, you can decide on where you want to stay, who to surround yourself with and what to tolerate.
As simple as these may sound, they are very hard things for many to independently decide about because of social influence, insecurities, or fears. For example, many people stick with toxic friends and conform to their influence due to fear of rejection.
You can rely on yourself in simple yet complex situations in life. When you choose to do things that sit well with your conscious like cutting off bad friends for peace of mind, like refusing to drink when everyone is drinking. Like choosing to eat healthy despite seductive unhealthy junk foods you develop the power to advance to the advanced self-reliance level.
Self-reliance for the advanced.
At this level of self-reliance, stands few people who defied odds to keep in touch with their inner genius to become who they desired to be. Take for instance, when everyone opposed the idea of e-commerce in China that had not known the internet, Jack Ma stuck to his dream of Alibaba.com.
Today he is the richest man in China. President Abraham Lincoln issued the slaves Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1883 amidst strong opposition from the rich whites that owned slaves. People so advanced in self-reliance have a strong connection to nature that makes them make decisions and actions that positively impact a lot of lives.
Why you should rely on yourself.
Everything else fades but you. Situations come and go. People come into your life and go. With all that, one person has always been with you whether you ignore him or not. On your first day on earth, he was with you. Every day of your life he will be with you. On your last day on earth, he will be with you and go with you. So you better trust, love, and rely on him. That person is YOU.
No one can love you more than you. The people that will love you so much will most probably be your family. Even still the reality is their love has a limit. Sometimes limited by their own limitations and most times by nature.
Your mother may be able to take a bullet for you but she can never experience the pain of your own heartbreak. God forbid but she can die at some point and leave you behind with the only person you can ever count on for anything. That person is you.
No one can motivate you to the level your inner profound motivation can push you. Some people have got all kinds of external support but still, fail because their inner genius didn’t support them. They had no motivation from within.
External support and motivation only work where there is inner motivation within you. Inner motivation with self-belief have made many people achieve the impossible against all odds. Relying on yourself for motivation gives the most profound and unconditional support you will ever get.
When everyone rejects you and isolates you, the only person that will stick with you is your inner self. You can reject your inner self but it can never reject. So you might just trust the only person who always has your back than seeking acceptance from outside of you.
Everyone can advise you on what to do. They can even show you how to do it. Unfortunately, only you will actually do it. No one will live your life for you. No one will achieve your goals for you. Not even your parents or siblings.
Sadly, people only advise you from their lens. People advise you based on their experiences, emotional wounds, pain, achievements, traumas, etc. The lady that had a bad marriage experience will give you a thousand reasons to make you believe so. The other who enjoys the sweet fruits of marriage will advise you based on her experience as well.
So you might just trust the only person that isn’t biased or influenced by any externalities. That person is your inner genius.
When you close your eyes to see the person you want to become in the future, you base on your goals, your hobbies, your passions, etc. Only you can genuinely see the person you will be happy and at peace with to become in the future. The other people or society are just projecting their own idea of you on you. Your mother wants you to be a doctor because she may be a doctor or wanted to become one.
Your father wants you to become a professional basketball player because he enjoys watching Lebron James and you are growing as tall as him.
Deep inside you, you see a very good actor because you are passionate about acting. You see your abilities capable of making you a star in Hollywood. Only your inner genius profoundly knows what you are capable of. Choose to rely on no one else but him.
The five main forms of self-reliance
1. Emotional self reliance.
The depth of our emotional reactions and consequences always depends on our emotional strength and how we support ourselves emotionally in times of very high/positive and low/negative emotions. If we have not developed our emotional strength and intelligence, we are most likely to seek support and rely on other people for emotional support.
Not that we won’t go through painful emotional experiences if we have high emotional intelligence or strength, we will go through them. The difference is that we will easily get out of it than the emotionally weak people. A person with high emotional intelligence and strength understands that all situations are temporary.
They embrace their pain and speak hope into themselves because they know it will all be well in a nick of time. You can only give emotional support to a person with high emotional strength and intelligence. You are adding on what they already have.
However, for a person void of emotional intelligence or strength, you will have to help them build it first to recover from anything emotional pain or trauma. It is therefore very important to look within ourselves, understand our emotions, embrace them, master them and learn how to deal with them so we can rely on ourselves emotionally.
People who cant rely on themselves emotionally are very prone to depression because, in absence of external emotional support from other people, they break down. A person that has a genuine love for himself is lovable and gets even more love. If you can rely on yourself for love, others can easily trust you with their love.
2. Financial self reliance.
Perhaps the least important but very crucial form of self-reliance. Yes, it’s hard to fully rely on yourself financially. At some point, you have to rely on someone. When you are young, when you are unemployed or even fall sick and can’t work.
However, if you put it into consideration and plan very well, you minimize such situations and be able to run to yourself whenever you need anything money can buy. He who feeds you controls you.
They not only control what you do but end up controlling how you think. Employers organize training for their employees to shape their minds into what they want.
The goal is to be totally independent to minimize any external influences on your actions and decisions. When your parents granted you the freedom you were able to think and do as you wish. Before that they fed you, dressed you, and gave you shelter so you had to do as they said. Financial reliance gives you the freedom to think independently and avoid conforming.
3. Mental /intellectual self reliance.
In life you do not get what you want, you get what you are. Your situation is a reflection of your mind. Taking time to enrich yourself with knowledge about the different things you are inclined to puts you in a position to rely on yourself mentally.
Your ability to think and make the right decisions gives you confidence in yourself to live life on your own terms. You do not have to call your mom or dad to decide for you, your mind confidently does before you even ask. You will not need to check what the rest are doing, you will do what is best for you.
Being able to rely on your own intellect makes you exceptional and sets you apart from other people. It helps you create an original you that everyone will eventually see as supernatural. Most inventors relied on their mental abilities to create things people thought impossible.
However, they did that through efforts of developing mental strength. If your mind can start a small business, it can develop the muscle and power to run a big one if you let it exercise its power by relying on it. Sometimes it will fail but understand that that is how it develops.
4. Physical strength
Your body is the best car you will ever sit in. If you do not give it the best service, you can not rely on it. It has all the organs that will take you where your mind wants to go. Even the richest of the world have to walk to their beds, offices, etc.
They have to do their computer work and all other things that involve their bodies. They even have to use them to dance when they are happy.
What do you do when your own body can not dance when your heart wants to? You have to make your body strong and healthy enough for you to rely on. You do this by exercising it for strength, fitness, and to keep it young. Giving it the best food to keep it alive and healthy.
You take care of it by loving and accepting it. Do not speak negatively of your body. Your insecurities about it are what someone out there prays for. Whenever the need arises, you will not be considered physically vulnerable but physically self-reliant.
5. Spiritual self reliance.
For our eternal well-being, we must be self-reliant. To rely on yourself spiritually is to rely on your spirit. We are all spiritual beings in a human experience but often times we forget the power within our own spirit and look to others for how to shape our lives.
When you are spiritually self-reliant, your prayers are not a copy and paste of what others are praying for. We strive for growth from within.
The problem many people have is comparison. Comparing yourself to others is a toxic, unreliable, and foolish approach to life. There is no fundamental growth in the lives of people who are in competition with others.
A spiritually self-reliant man only compares himself to the person he was yesterday. He wants to be better than he was yesterday.
If you are in competition with yourself you experience unlimited growth. If you strive to be better than your brother at something, what will be your goal when you finally become so?
Will you sit back because you have no one else to compete with? Spiritual self-reliance helps you create the person you desire to be instead of the person other people want you to be. It makes you original with unique testimonies.
How to develop self-reliance.
Just like a skill or strength, self-reliance can be developed. It does not matter how old you are. There is always a first time for everything. If you are a young adult or teenager self-reliance is one value you will be grateful for if you embrace it. If you are 50 years and struggle to rely on yourself. It’s not too late.
You have spent 50 years not relying on yourself, you do not want the next decades of your life to be the same.
Fortunately, once you accept your need to become self-reliant, you have already done 50% of the work. Without further ado, here are tips to help you become self-reliant.
1. Self acceptance and self love.
Accept yourself for who you are. Your flaws, weaknesses, and strengths are what make you human. We are imperfect beings. Put your strengths at the forefront of your thoughts and actions, eventually, the weaknesses will also gain momentum to become strengths.
Imagine you are a general going to war, if you put your weak soldiers at the front, the strong ones behind will also become weak. However, if you put the strong ones at the front, the weak soldiers will get inspired and become strong too. Love yourself more than anything and know that you are the best person you will ever have. Self-love makes you embrace your imperfections and nothing can use them against you.
2. Profound confidence
One pandemic sweeping the world is approval-seeking personality. People are becoming more narcissistic than ever before. They need compliments and cheers from others to feel worthy or capable of anything.
Unfortunately, approval from other people is not always available. The people that clap for you today can boo you tomorrow.
The question is what will you do in those days when no one is clapping for you? You have to be able to clap for yourself. You have to be able to give yourself approval. This comes from developing profound inner confidence. The confidence that makes you rely on your abilities even when everyone is doubting you.
3. Make your own decisions.
As children, we were all raised depending on other people to decide for us. We grew up doubting our convictions and ability to make decisions. As adults, few have gone on to exercise and develop that ability. In our minds, we think someone else always has a better decision. This isn’t how decision-making is developed.
If you are put on a basketball court without any skills of the game, asked to make 20 free throws, you will definitely miss several of your first attempts. Maybe 6 or 10. Then you will relax and summon your ability to make successful attempts from the lesson from the failed attempts. Eventually, you throw the ball into the basketball net.
That is how decision-making is, you might make some wrong decisions at the start but believe me if you do not give up on yourself and continue exercising your ability to make decisions, you will start to make some of the most impactful decisions you will ever be proud of.
4. Find your dependence points and manage them.
We are all imperfect beings striving for excellence (excellence not perfection). Because we are not perfect, we fall short in some aspects of life. The physically strong wrestler may be self-reliant when it comes to physical strength but may fall to his knees in times of emotional turmoil needing someone else to give him emotional support.
Identify those points where you find yourself looking at other people for help. Try to regulate how often you go to them for help. Learn to solve some of those challenges on your own. Even if you do not become fully self-reliant in those fields, at least you will minimize your level of dependency on other people.
5. Embrace nonconformity.
Seek what you stand for, believe in yourself, and your personal values. Do not be taken by waves of the society when deep down your conscious is disagreeing.
Conformity is a betrayal of your soul. Not everything everyone follows, you should follow. Learn to stand up for yourself and say no when you need to. Don’t be a yes person when your heart is screaming no. Be unapologetic about who you are and what you feel.
6. Cultivate profound happiness
Relying on material things does not bring you fundamental happiness. You say you will be happy when you buy your dream car. You go on and buy it. You feel excited and happy for yourself. Eventually, your mind accepts that you now have the car. What now? What is next? Profound happiness is the absence of negative thoughts and feelings.
Profound happiness is when your heart is coherent with your mind. If you have profound happiness other material things can only make you happier. Without it, no car, no house, no amount of money can make you happy. With profound happiness, you can be happy even without a roof over your head.
7. Try solving your own problems.
If you always find the need to call someone for advice or help. Restrain and face them on your own. Unless it is a death or life situation, do not call them. If it is a bully at school, stand up to them and tell them how you feel about what they are doing.
When they don’t stop, you can then seek external intervention. Let external help be the plan B of your life instead of being plan A.
8. Be aware of what you think.
Embrace meditation in your life to increase your level of self-awareness. This can make you aware of the thoughts in your mind. Sometimes we are so used to doing some things that we end up being autotuned to do them.
However, when we are aware of our thoughts we can prevent them from turning into actions. If you are used to relying on someone else, you can easily prevent this by opposing the thoughts asking you to do so.
9. Finish what you start.
When we do not finish what we start we take away confidence in our abilities. We start to think that we are not competent enough to finish any task successfully. This makes us rely on others to finish tasks we can complete on our own. Ensuring that you finish what you start makes you more productive and gives you the confidence to rely on yourself.
10. Seek knowledge and skills.
Developing our minds by learning information and skills that are commonly needed in society makes us very self-reliant. Take, for instance, basic bookkeeping knowledge and skills are needed by every adult working for money. Basic cooking skills are needed by everyone. When we know such skills we can always run to ourselves instead of someone else when the need arises.
11. Seek to be a giver, not a taker.
Giving puts you in a place of power and increases your ability to rely on yourself. Come to think of it, how much power does your boss have over you for being in a place to give you a salary that you survive on. If you get it, then seek to be a boss instead of an employee. That is where power is. He that feeds you controls you. Be the person people go to for solutions.
12. Seek contentment not approval.
Before you do something, make sure your goal is contentment or peace to your soul but not approval from other people. If you keep doing things for other people to approve, soon enough you will realize that you are living a treasure behind (YOU) to chase for the wind. Do what resonates with your heart instead of other people.
13. Do it yourself first before you hire someone to do it for you.
Before you hire a maid to clean your house or cook food for you, can you do it yourself? If you can not then you are doing yourself a disservice. What if your maid quits because you can not afford her anymore, will you starve? If you want someone else to love you, can you love yourself in the first place?
If not how then do you expect someone else to be able to love you? ability to do the basic and essential things for yourself makes you self-reliant and safe in the absence of your helpers.
Conclusion: Self-reliance is a very important value to thrive in a world where everyone puts themselves and their needs first before others. If you keep relying on other people, you will always get residue help or second-hand experiences. Let me leave you with one factual secret. A person with self-reliance gets more from people than a dependent person. People are more willing to trust those who have self-reliant abilities like self-confidence, self-trust, self-belief, etc than those that lack them. Imagine you hand a million dollars, would you deposit it in a bank that sustains itself or one that depends on the central bank to survive? Share with me your opinion in the comments.
Learn more about self-reliance in my skillshare course