a long read
“Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before others’ choices make us.”
Growing up, we are all expected to at some point become independent, to become capable of making our own decisions and sustaining ourselves fully. Though often left out of the conversation, this independence must be achieved in all aspects of life including emotionally. In this entry I am going to give this marginalized conversation a focus as we delve into the idea of emotional independence.
A common thread running through all humanity is the struggle to establish self in a meaningful way. This process is a struggle for many and while involuntary for some. We are told that finding ourselves happens through the passage of time coupled by the environment we are subject to over the course of our very existence. This idea is the foundation for the common narrative of identity being something to find, not create. A narrative I plan to challenge.
Since birth we are growing. Equipped with remarkable brains we cannot resist marveling over every scent and scene theatrically playing out around us. Though behind the scenes we are not merely seeing all the lights and glamour, but subconsciously soaking in our environment, slowly building a library of opinions that will ultimately inform our personality and character. This constant intake demands us to be attentive of what we take from our surroundings as well as the footprints we leave behind to avoid the risk of taking in something bad. All this must be done for the sake of manifesting our best visions of ourselves, instead of forfeiting control and defaulting to being a direct by-product of our environment. In other words, we have an important part to play in becoming our best self’s, this is a large part of emotional independence.
Having established the link between both personality and character with emotional independence, we can now ask: What does emotional independence practically look like? How is it attained? Why is it important?
Growth Thought Experiment
In order to lay a proper foundation able to support what I have to say, let me start with a little thought experiment.
Take yourself as you are and turn back your bodily clock until childhood, when you had the body and mind of a child. Now pause the flow of time and within this infant setting ask yourself, what do you need to grow your body? There are many answers each with their own variations, but to only achieve growth the basic requirements would be food, water and rest. Pressing play, we see that those three needs will be enough to simply allow growth.
This first scenario is called the passive growth is model, the important thing to note here is the nature and quality of growth that has taken place. Given the bare necessities, growth did not occur purposefully but rather as a consequence of time and a suitable environment. Looking into our simulation, this unguided growth reveals itself as non-ideal when you consider the poor state of the body that has only received food, water, and rest. This is a body that is lacking in physical activity, social skills and a strong immune system among many other things. Just passively growing is never enough, there needs to be purpose driven growth if we want any hope of reaching our potential. It is impossible to passively acquire a soulful sheen.
Now, reconsider our thought experiment with a new emphasis on quality of life and sharpening of mental capabilities. Food, water and rest will no longer be enough to achieve this, we will have to introduce physical activity, social interaction and mental stimulation to pass the new bar we have set. This is the first step to intentional growth. The take-away here is that to be involved and active as you grow, you need to do more than go with the flow. Passive growth relies only on inanimate ‘things’ easily obtained, but intentional growth is a whole other level needing the individual to make deliberate actions that compliment a larger purpose. With the thought experiment I mind, I can now confidently further explain emotional independence.
The Dynamic Entity
A significant part of emotional independence is being able to confront who you are in its entirety and be at peace by either accepting what you see or knowing that what you see can be changed. I used to view personality as a vice slowly closing over time until a final, permanent form takes hold. Drawing parallels, this point of view mirrors the passive growth scenario where time and the basic necessities fuel a natural cycle.
This point of view led me to play a minor role in defining myself. Throughout life I have simply accepted what has been given to me with the promise that it will make me grow. I never put much thought into the things I constantly found in my hands as I instead did with it as I was told. Investing myself in the opportunities put before me or better yet seeking out something new for myself, is still a new concept to me. The nail in the coffin with this frame of mind is the notion of an ultimatum which prohibits further change. Leading to an even more indifferent attitude of the future since it seems decided regardless of what you do.
It is so important to understand that change is always possible and necessary for growth. I would even go as far as to say that what is not growing, is dead. Acting out of instinct, impossible is a quick label we attribute to things as a defense mechanism to shield us from failure and embarrassment, despite the potential rewards waiting on the other side if only we tried. Today I challenge you to confront that which you’ve deem immovable, and reap the rewards hidden behind.
Having experienced the life brought by this passive mentality, I now choose to embrace the idea that our intangible nature is dynamic. This transforms me from a passenger to the driver, allowing me to reclaim my place at the helm and change my ways. Personality is what makes a person who they are, it is the underlying core self. We are all a collection of what gets caught in our being as we fly through life. Therefore, to add depth and a sense of genuine to your personality all you need to do is seek out more meaningful endeavors. These meaningful endeavors spark a passion within you that shines bright as you interact with like-minded people. Like radiating waves, you will carry a certain aura or vibe interpreted as confidence and charisma by others.
Examples of meaningful endeavors I’ve seen within my own circle of friends are one who decided to take ownership for his own health and educated himself on the human body, another is a fountain of knowledge with regards to anything computational and mathematics, and another takes pride in knowing and living out the heritage and traditions of her country. These are all unique flavors present only because the individual chose to pursue a feeling and turn it into a passion. Evidence that this an integral part of these people as a part of their personality is the short amount of time that would pass in conversation until the subject is mentioned.
In essence, emotional independence is more like a state of mind that when achieved allows you to take charge of who you are and steer in the direction of who you want to be. This mentality states that who we are is subject to change, and this fact becomes a blessing or a curse depending on the level of involvement we are prepared to commit as time forces change to occur. So I leave you with this, the power brought by following genuine intent is our greatest weapon against the chaos and misery fighting to consume us, grow intentionally!
~ A Source of Inspiration: Sonja