Seven Steps to Emotional Independence

Are you emotionally independent?

Do you rely on other people to make you feel good about yourself?

Do you expect your partner to make you feel loved, appreciated and important?

If that is the case, then I can guarantee you, this is a recipe for suffering.

I’d like to share with you 8 ways to stop being emotionally dependent and to begin to plant the seeds of emotional independence in your relationships :

One. Give up the Quest for Validation
First of all, stop seeking the perfect partner – between the partner you have or the partner you will have and the partner you deserve is the space of grief. I know it’s tough to hear this – this space of grief is reality. There is no point expecting that things will change, they will change, but not necessarily according to plan. Becoming an adult is accepting that this space of grief is a fact of life and in that space there is also joy, complicity, acceptance, and intimacy. The possibility for true connection and intimacy is based on this somewhat bitter fact : It is not anyone else’s job to make you feel loved, to validate you or to fulfill your emotional needs.  That is your job.

Feeling like your self esteem and happiness depends on another person or outside circumstances is a recipe for suffering remember?. So here is the 2nd step in becoming emotionally independent.

Two. Make a room of one’s own
Many people shun being alone, they feel like it proves they are a failure and no one likes them or they have failed at love.

To Cultivate inner resiliency, you must create a space of your own. Virginia Woolf wrote the seminal novel “A room of one’s own” as the symbol of a women writer’s need for a physical and inner space for reflection and creativity.

The number one brilliant thing you can do for yourself, is to create a “room of your own” even if this is just a figurative inner room - this inner space is your solitary refuge space. Begin to consciously nourish it with yoga, meditation, learning a new language, painting, or anything creative or just – silence.

And as you begin to nourish and fill up your inner sense of well-being, you will naturally become more emotionally independent.

SO here is the third step in becoming more resilent and independent emotionally :

Three. Become your own best friend
You are probably quite hard on yourself. Many of us treat our pets much better than we treat ourselves. Becoming your own best friend is literally befriending yourself. Befriending your body.

Marisa Peer, my mentor and founder of Rapid Transformational Therapy, recommends putting post-its on all the mirrors in your house that read  “I love you” – well actually Louisa Hay would give this as homework to her clients and I do too sometimes  - you put post its on all the mirrors in the house and each time you walk past a mirror, look yourself in the eye and say “hey there – you know I love you”. I know, it feels silly at first, but over time your mind will accept it as true.

One of the key ways to show love and respect for yourself is to literally Befriend your body; You would not have a friend that you never visit with or do fun things with. Well befriending your body is the same thing. Every week, give your body a gift. A massage, a walk, a treat. As you begin to focus on your friendship with yourself, you will naturally begin to better appreciate your qualities and strengths and give yourself validation. And apart from having more pleasure in your life, you will no longer be reliant on other people to validate you.

Four: Attract people with a higher vibration
As you become a loving presence to yourself and as you begin to be more emotionally independent, you gain confidence and begin to attract people that are also confident and have healthy self esteem. You begin to notice when the energy vampires come to feed off your energy of presence and compassion – as you become more independent you no longer need these energy vampires to feel important or needed; Remember Like attracts Like, so your first job is to clear up your energy and let in the confidence and self esteem that is yours and was always yours.

Five: Practice recognizing that your thoughts and feelings are not real.  
The 5th step in becoming more emotionally independent is both easy and hard to do. Because often we are not really aware that we are upset, we just feel irritated or sad for no apparent reason. So the 5th step is cultivating awareness and become more conscious of what your thoughts and feelings are telling you.Your thoughts and feelings are not only not real but most of the time, they not even true because they are the automatic result of your unconscious mind reacting to the present mind based on past thoughts and feelings.

Remember that the function of the mind is to produce thoughts and thoughts are only thoughts – they are not reality. So becoming mindful of the thoughts that are pulling you into a downward spiral will not give them energy.

Do not let your negative mind chatter discourage you from being more emotionally independent. When the inner saboteur strikes in the form of negative thoughts, bring in compassionate awareness.

Imagine that your thoughts are on a grocery check-out that is moving along – and on the grocery check out are all these thoughts. Just say “next!” to the negative thought and move it past till you find the next better thought.

As we saw in the previous steps, as you become more aware of where your thoughts and feelings are taking you, you become more mindful that your thoughts and feelings are not real, and that will allow you to start becoming very familiar with your own emotional patterns

Six: Become mindful of your emotional triggers
We want to be mindful of our emotional triggers, and reactions in order to not fall into the trap of focusing on them – because what you focus on becomes your reality! Unfortunately, you can easily fall into the trap of believing that you are feeling bad or happy because of some external person or thing and that your well being and happiness is dependent on that person or thing. This is how you reinforce emotional dependence, and remember emotional dependence is a recipe for suffering.

Being emotionally independent is choosing to be responsible for one’s own life experience and not expect someone to change, or to wait for someone to finally wake up and love you or give you what you want. Relationships are hard and the only relationship you can be truly in control of is the one with yourself. Remember, as long as you are expecting another person to prove you are worthy, and if you are waiting for that person to change, then you are being emotionally dependent.

So the key to becoming more emotionally independent is to recognize where your current pattern of behavior stems from.  Once you have identified the root cause of your beliefs and behaviours, you can better assess where you're at and how to change your state of mind in order to be more emotionally independent.

Two helpful question to ask yourself are:

Where did I first learn to behave the way I do in my relationships?

How could I take small steps to break free from these patterns?

And here we are at the seventh and final step to become more emotionally independent.

Seven: Know that you are enough

When you were a baby you born into the world expecting to be loved and cared for because your birth right was to expect unconditional love and acceptance – you do not have to do or be anything to deserve this.

In order to be emotionally independent, you need to return to this original template in your subconscious of your innate worthiness. You are deserving of love and respect just as you are.

Once you appreciate yourself for who you are, you won't need others for approval, and you'll feel more comfortable shifting out of unhealthy relationship dynamics.

By focusing on these 8 steps you will be creating more emotional independence in yourself  —it’s a work in process, so give yourself the gift of patience and kindness while you commit to making confident changes to bring yourself into healthy self-esteem and being 100% responsible for your experience.

And enjoy! Emotional independence feels good!

Elaine Rudnicki is a Relationship Therapist (RLT), Clinical Hypnotherapist (RTT) and Mindfulness teacher (MBSR).