Connection with others tends to be what is most sought-after in people’s lives. It’s deeply comforting to be understood and accepted, which is the best kind of connection offered.
The pitfall of connection, though, is that it isn’t constant. Different experiences pull people together or push them apart. While a sudden withdrawal of connection doesn’t mean it won’t come back, the sudden change experienced feels jarring nonetheless. This alludes to something more stable and equally needed: a sense of internal responsibility and independence.
In another scenario, someone may experience an overabundance of connection and still feel unfulfilled. There is a necessary balance between nurturing companionship and having individual direction. If you lack balance in one area, it’s easy to feel dissatisfied.
I have found myself in both situations, and allocating enough time towards understanding and bettering myself solved more than I expected. When I focused on my individual improvement, my relationships began to take on a much deeper meaning than before.
True independence isn’t separation from people, but rather understanding that you alone are responsible for your wholeness. It is acknowledging that life has meaning even when no one else is around.
The Merit of Self-Reliance
It’s difficult to understand yourself when you’re surrounded by people. Your focus is directed outward instead of internally. Having a grasp on what you internally experience is necessary since you are ultimately the person you spend the most time with. The time you spend with yourself should be equally if not more fulfilling than your time with others is. It will certainly play a large role in the time you spend around other people.
Solitude can be uncomfortable. It’s the only time you’re fully known. No other person knows every experience you’ve had, every failure you’ve made, everything that’s ever meant something to you. Making sense of it all is fascinating and overwhelming. There’s no one outside of yourself to define you by the personality you have and the experiences you’ve shared with them.
Who you are at this very moment is an accumulation of everything you’ve experienced in your life. You’ve subconsciously learned what has worked and what hasn’t over the years to make life manageable. Some of these learned behaviors aid you. They’re personal, professional, or social skills that help you bring value to the world.
Other behaviors are hindrances. Bad habits, poor self-management, over-reactivity, lethargy, and professional/social flaws are all examples. When you’re apart from people, such behaviors are hard to conceal and ignore.
Faults tend to be what we mentally fixate on in solitude. We ruminate about how we’ve wronged others and how we’ve been wronged in return. We know in a lot of ways we’ve wronged ourselves. These realizations usually come second to external failures, but they weigh equally as heavy on us.
This kind of rumination leads to a severe lack of regard for self. One of the chapters in 12 Rules for Life mentions the tendency for people to be better at filling and properly administering prescription medication to their pets than to themselves. We find our pets to be more worthy of our love and care than ourselves, which is foolish rather than selfless. Your pet would be much better off if you were in good condition yourself.
You have a vital role to play in the unfolding destiny of the world. You are, therefore, morally obliged to take care of yourself.Jordan Peterson
The premise of the chapter is to “treat yourself as if you are someone you are responsible for helping.” No one else is as accountable for your well-being as you are. You may know all of the reasons you don’t deserve care, but you are obliged to care for yourself even so. You play too vital of a role to treat yourself poorly.
A friend of mine explained this concept well. He said if you were to know that in a whole year, you made one person’s life significantly better, it would justify all of the personal upkeep needed to sustain yourself that year. One person’s betterment in those 365 days would give meaning to every good, bad, and in-between moment along the way.
More likely than not, your reach is far greater than the improvement of one life each year. You extend goodness in the friendships you keep, the family you nurture, the work you give yourself to, and your treatment of everyday people. Thankfully, personal faults do not rid you of being capable of good things. However, it is the work you do independently that helps you grow beyond your faults so that you are capable of more good than before.
In your time alone, you can define who you are and refine your personality. With your understanding of self, you can choose your destination and how you plan to get there. Your knowledge of self may prove to be your biggest asset since it allows you to know exactly what needs to improve.
You come to terms with yourself independently. You begin your betterment with an individual choice. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping, then become the help you need. Let the goodness that results spur you onward.
The Kinds of Connections Independence Leads to
Two of my closest friendships began with conversations about personality tests.
While this seems like a fun “two truths, one lie” statement, there’s significance to it. In both cases, the topic of personality came up organically, and then our shared interest in individual understanding lead to a whole new level of conversation. These discussions combined each person’s understanding of self and the vulnerability needed to share it.
Part of what we each search for in connections with people is to be truly understood and accepted. Sharing our personalities, and in other cases, personal experiences opened the door for that level of connection with a select few.
Deep connection requires sacrifice. With vulnerability, you run the risk of unacceptance. Your flaws are more prone to surface with people who matter to you. Theirs are as well. What’s more, someone who is deeply important to you is not within your control in the slightest. Nobody is, but with the people who matter, this is a frightening thought.
The word control is what it ultimately comes down to. People feel insecure because they fight for control over what is beyond them. Only yourself is truly within your control.
This is why friendships involving multiple self-reliant people are so powerful. The other person truly wants what’s best for you because they’re not looking for you to provide something for them, and vice versa. You provide enough just from your presence and they want you around. There is nothing better.
These kinds of friends would have their life improve if they saw yours improve. They encourage you when you do good for yourself and others and punish you carefully when you don’t. And you do the same for them.
Surrounding yourself with people who want the best for you starts with treating yourself as someone you are responsible for helping. Self-worth attracts the right people and scares the wrong ones away.
Instead of looking externally for direction, look within. Use solitude to expand your intellect, improve your abilities, take care of yourself, and reflect rather than ruminate – to grow the kinds of skills to help you contribute to your own life and the lives of others. You and the people you care about will be better because of it.
Hi everyone. Happy Independence Day!
Today’s post was a bit of a spin-off of the American holiday happening today, which was only somewhat intentional. I wanted to dive deeper into the topic of deep connection that I mentioned in my last post. That level of meaningful fellowship only resulted when I developed a sense of personal responsibility and bonded over that with people who had found the same.
To explain my content structure a bit further, I plan to share more reflective posts on Mondays that support the main topics I write about in my Friday posts, which is why today’s topic isn’t the Pt. 2 to my Meaningful Living post. That will be published this Friday, so stay tuned.
Until then, have a lovely week.