Updated: Sep 21, 2021
“Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
What does it mean to be self-reliant? Emerson said it best in his 1841 essay “Self-Reliance” but to paraphrase, he stated that in order to be self-reliant, we must avoid conformity, be individuals, and think for ourselves by following our own instincts and ideas.
You have to believe in yourself in order to be truly self-reliant. You have to know that you have the right answers to life’s questions. You must be aware that you have the ability to make the right choices and decisions that serve you best. You have to have confidence in your thoughts and actions.
I believe that in life it is inherent to be self-reliant because it allows us to think independently, embrace our individuality, and pursue our goals instinctually, and with courage. If we are constantly in a state of dependence on others’ opinions, approval or more collectively, society’s norms, then when are we ever really doing anything independently? When are we even following our own individual soul’s path? When are we thinking for ourselves?
Throughout life, we can be faced with many situations where we feel societal pressure to do something a certain way. This societal pressure might stem from parents, friends, bosses, coaches or mentors. Regardless of the origin, when we are in a confused state of what our next steps should be, we often look to others for approval or guidance to tell us what to do.
Or in the alternative, we are so paralyzed in fear or uncertainty that we allow society or the people closest to us to give us the answers and direct our path, instead of listening to our inner wisdom.
This can also play out when we depend on others to boost our egos or give us confidence. When we seek approval on what we’re wearing, who we’re dating, or how our behavior is in a certain situation, we are giving our power away. We are denying ourselves the opportunity to shine, to own our choices, and be proud of our accomplishments, even when we make mistakes or fail.
Ultimately, we lose the opportunity to make decisions for ourselves which can cost us our livelihoods and our happiness. We can get so far off track that we end up in a place that is nowhere we want to be, all because we didn’t think for ourselves.
I know there are many people I’ve come across who have chosen a career because it was what their parents did, or they played a certain sport because it looked good on a college application or married someone they didn’t love because their parents advised them to do it.
The list goes on, and we have all probably been in a situation where we forgot to listen to ourselves; and instead, we relied on others to steer our course of direction. And it's not a blame game. It's okay. We have all been there.
But when we wake up one day and see that this life we are living isn’t really us, we become trapped in a falsehood. It isn’t a representation of what we want or who we really are. And it isn’t who we are meant to be. So we feel lost. We feel unhappy. We feel hopeless.
That's why it is so important to embrace our individuality and rely on our inner voice to make our own decisions, so we can become autonomous. We can become self-reliant. When we listen to our intuition, we follow the path of least resistance and we ultimately become more in alignment with our soul’s purpose. We emulate our true self which attracts an outer world that is reflective of who we really are.
When we become the trailblazer, the leader, the independent thinker, the confident warrior, we pave the way for greatness for ourselves. We don’t need to look outside for the answers. We don’t need to seek approval from others. We don’t need to conform.
We don’t need to do any of those things because we believe in ourselves. We trust our judgments. We believe and have confidence in our ideas, our instincts, and our knowledge about what we are meant to do. When we are self-reliant, we gain self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-love, and self-worth which leads to purpose, direction, and happiness.
And that’s where the true power lies in being a successful individual at life. Happiness.
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