The Fourth of July is a national favorite. It’s a day filled with backyard barbecues, family gatherings, colorful fireworks and festivities. Across the U.S., people celebrate our country's independence, and the overwhelming opportunity gained from breaking free of oppression.
The Fourth of July also motivates a pride in personal independence, not just in what you have or what you do, but in how you feel about yourself. Independence is multifaceted; it includes practical, emotional, and mental aspects. And, finding independence in each of these is key to unlocking potential and happiness.
You can take small steps daily to achieve a more
Step One: ‘Dive into you’
To establish independence, one must reflect inward and take time to truly get to know oneself. One must reflect on personal values, desires, and motivations in life both presently and in the future. Many times, the foundation of independence lies in acknowledging personal strengths and weaknesses, and accepting you for who you are and what you bring to the world. Knowing and accepting yourself gives you the confidence to be independent.
Step Two: 'Strive for wellness'
Your health is key to your independence because it grants you the strength and ability to take control of your life. While not easy, personal independence requires one to maintain physical and mental health by eating appropriately, exercising, and engaging in activities that provide relaxation and rejuvenation (i.e. reading, chatting with friends, attending a concert, etc.). To have a healthy independence, it is important to keep your physical and mental health in check.
Step Three: 'Appreciate alone time'
Some tremble at even the mention of alone time. Society has conditioned many to crave the presence and acceptance of others to feel calm and fulfilled. Yet, instead of focusing on what’s ‘lacking’ in time spent alone, focus on what can be ‘gained.’ Alone time can help you re-charge your batteries and find solace in personal time. Learning to be okay with being on your own is an important life skill that reminds you of your personal strength.
Step Four: 'Better your self-talk'
It is all too easy to fall into negative word traps. Our incessant internal scripts can sometimes be overloaded with: ‘can’t’, ‘don’t’, ‘won’t’, ‘shouldn’t’, ‘not able too’ — all negative remarks that stagnant our progress, confidence, and growth. It is important to remember that independence and confidence go together. One sure way to boost confidence in self is to change the way you talk to yourself. Instead, use words that build confidence and independence to illuminate personal ability and success rather than squash it.
Step Five: 'Unleash assertiveness'
Learning to be assertive is a powerful way to boost your self-esteem and become more autonomous. Assertiveness is a skill you can learn and practice in work, family, and even friendships. It means setting personal boundaries that protect and fuel personal wellness, instead of always bending to the needs and requests of others. Learning to object, say no, clarify ambiguity and discuss problems openly, can help you be clear about your needs and feelings.
Step Six: 'Learn to soothe yourself'
Instead of bottling emotion up inside, grant yourself permission to actually feel your feelings. It is important to learn how to comfort yourself in times of challenge or hardship because sometimes, you may not have a support system that can help. Ignoring your feelings will only prolong the hurt and discomfort. Take time to figure out what calms you, what supports you, and what makes you happy. This is a giant step forward in harnessing personal independence.
Step Seven: 'Prioritize you!'
Independence equals thinking and acting for you! It is important to consistently set aside time for you; time dedicated to honing in on life goals and personal pampering. You impact others best when you yourself are at your best. This requires time and effort deposited directly into your own personal wellbeing 'account'.
Independence is something to be celebrated on the Fourth and everyday. It’s not easy to achieve, but it's necessary in being able to contribute your best self to every situation, occasion, and relationship. With patience and commitment, independence is within reach.
“The way to independence is with little moves. I liked the notion that I could start small.” - Oprah Winfrey
How often is your self-talk negative? Next time a ‘can’t’ pops into your running script, replace it with a ‘will try.’ This gives you the opportunity to excel, without the over-promise of success.
Schedule an hour of ‘alone time.’ Engage in an activity you seldom have time for and cherish being able to tune into you without the static of the outside world.
Find an action or behavior that you can use to comfort yourself in a time of challenge, for example, pat yourself on the back, sing a few song lyrics, coin a phrase… A simple action can be the reminder you need to inhale, exhale, and re-group.