These questions come up all the time:
If I’m self-reliant, does that mean I have to figure everything out on my own?
Does it mean that I have to do everything myself?
Doesn’t this reinforce the idea that leaders need to have all the answers?
Let’s Get Clear
Self-reliance is depending on yourself to take care of the ways you think, feel and behave. It includes getting to know yourself and how you respond in different situations. It includes being your best friend – someone who accepts everything that surfaces within you as OK vs judged as right or wrong. Thoughts and emotions aren’t wasteful — they offer information that you can use to make choices. I’m not saying you have to believe every thought or feeling, rather listen to it and deliberately decide how to respond.
Your triads (see diagram on the right) are nobody else’s responsibility but your own. In fact, they are the only aspects of life that you can control. Control is a harsh word, but it’s one we can use now — in essence, it’s your business to take care of your triads and nobody else’s.
Most people do the contrary — and don’t worry if you’re currently one of them. Most people blame other people or circumstances for the ways they think, feel and behave. Sitting in victim mode does have it’s benefits in society, but it’s not as beneficial as inner power/self-reliance in tumultuous times such as today’s.
- If you cleaned your room, I’d wouldn’t yell at you
- If you didn’t leave the dishes in the sink, I wouldn’t be angry
- If you finished the project on time, I wouldn’t be stressed
- If I got promoted, I’d feel successful
- If the economy created ample employment, I’d feel secure
- If I could earn money doing what I love, I’d be happy
Value of Self-Reliance
To feel self-confident, calm, grounded, certain, adaptable, good.
When you think that the outside world is in control of your emotions, for instance, that makes you feel out-of-control, which makes you behave in reactive or defensive ways.
When you realize that you determine which emotions to feed or invest in, you design your life — you’re in the driver’s seat, which feels good.
Ways to Become Self-Reliant
First – you become aware of your triads. You have thousands of them, yet when you chart them as a journaling exercise, you’ll see that patterns appear. If you’re like most people, you’ll notice a handful of triads come up over and over. Identifying those patterns will focus your attention on the specific areas where change will help the most.
For instance, if you have this triad:
- think – “my boss doesn’t listen”
- feel – frustrated, angry, resentful that she doesn’t listen to my ideas
- behave – stop sharing my ideas because it seems like a waste of time
If this was your triad, you’d notice that you’re holding back ideas, which is likely affecting your credibility and influence (and likelihood of getting promoted). You’d also notice that you’re holding back ideas because you don’t want to feel angry frustrated or resentful. We do that in today’s society because we’ve been taught to do that — avoid feeling specific feelings because we label them as “bad,” when they can be seen as neutral data.
Second – you choose. You can continue to use the same triad or shift into a new one.
Continuing with the above example, you decide that you don’t want to hold back your ideas, so you use another triad:
- think – “I share my ideas in creative ways that make them come alive”
- feel – excited, curious, hopeful
- behave – share my ideas
This new triad feels more powerful. By using it, you’ll notice how it makes you feel and have it changes the dynamics of your inner experience and the results you see on the outside — how people respond, how you use your ideas to contribute to your team. Yet, regardless of the external results, you always decide how to think, feel and behave by default or design, so better by design. Why should the outside world affect your triads? It’s true that environments affect us, yet when we’re conscious of that fact, we can stay in control of our triads.
As another example, if you’re an honest person yet see that people get promoted at work by being dishonest, would do dishonest things to get promoted or find another job? The choice is always yours.
Third – you engage with others! No need to explore your triads on your own, you can meet with family and friends, read, join a workshop, work with a coach to interact, share and access new ideas. Anything you do with other humans and Nature from an open heart enriches your experience. At the same time, the responsibility always lies with you to choose your thoughts, feelings and actions.
Being alone or doing everything yourself is also a choice. Today’s western world is designed around the hero’s journey, which promotes a solo hero conquering evil and saving the world.
While this is a wonderful self-development journey, there’s no need to believe that one person has all the answers. We’ve been defining “leader” as a hero for decades — someone who has all the answers and single-handedly creates or destroys organizations. This mindset has created unnecessary stress on individuals and lots of poor results in the process.
Being alone means you have to do everything yourself, on your own. Being self-reliant means taking care of your triads, which you can do on your own or with others.
[Image from Freepik]