Merriam-Webster defines self-reliance as ‘reliance on one’s efforts and abilities'. Self-reliance has been associated with 'the self' in its psychological sense, and more specifically within discussions of self-definition. The unique aspect of self-reliance is its approach to society, which is described in psychological journals as: “a reliance on internal resources to provide life with coherence (meaning) and fulfillment”
In terms of caring for your mental health, I believe that you may be the best person to help you, especially at times for the immediate care that you need when external help may be unavailable/inaccessible. This mindset combined with first-hand knowledge of your own experiences and the inner workings of your mind is a powerful combination to create the motivation to take care of your mental health first and foremost by you*. However, building self-awareness and practicing the mindset of self-reliance is key. As I have gone through it myself, building yourself up this way takes much effort... to observe yourself as objectively as possible and work things out internally (through the practices listed on the MNSTR Method page). This mindset along with mindfulness has been the foundation of my mental health management. Both mindsets have benefits that have helped me to organically create different ways to manage myself. It elevated my self-belief, increased my drive to seek self-knowledge, and raised my self-awareness while learning self-discipline along the way.
For those times that I didn't have a self-reliant mentality, it didn't help my deteriorating mental health state throughout most of my life (due to the multiple traumas I've experienced in the past). The feeling of powerlessness/lack of control is common amongst people who face challenges daily with their mental health. This constant feeling led me to feel stuck in my situation, it felt like I couldn't make a positive change, is this a familiar feeling for you? My first experience with self-reliance with one of the biggest obstacles in life that I've faced was my lupus, an autoimmune disorder that I supposedly couldn't do anything about to change my situation... the self-reliance mindset and the pursuit of self-knowledge rescued me from the chronic illness lifestyle (please refer to my bio). I took everything into my own hands, took calculated risks, and did the hard work that the external help couldn't or wouldn't do. Self-reliance is about getting to know yourself better, empowering you, and learning to trust yourself more because we can and we should. I understand the challenges/barriers that may come with practicing self-reliance as having a great focus is imperative. Whether they are internal (personal) reasons or external factors that may prevent you from fully focusing on yourself and your mental well-being, it is possible by assessing the factors in your life that are truly in your control. Like any other mindset, it takes practice and it wasn't consistent in my life until recent years. When people have self-reliance, they are independent and autonomous — in other words, they take care of themselves. This is the essence of this initiative, it's something that has kept me alive (in various ways) and pushing through adversities in life. Please see some info that I have gathered from various sources below:
THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING SELF-RELIANCE
There are several reasons why self-reliance is important, to be reliant on others for help means there will be times when that help is not available or accessible. The key to finding and nurturing happiness is to look deeper into this concept:
Means you can solve problems and make decisions by yourself.
Allows you to feel happy by yourself, in yourself, and about yourself—without relying on others.
Involves developing self-acceptance, a very powerful thing to have.
Involves acquiring self-knowledge and practicing self-compassion.
Gives you perspective, which in turn…
Gives you direction.
HOW TO DEVELOP SELF-RELIANCE
Whether you want to develop self-reliance for yourself, or for a friend/family member who may find this helpful... here are some thoughts, an article on developing self-reliance by mental health counselor, Mandy Kloppers, offers some practical steps (Kloppers, 2019). Her guidelines include:
1. KNOWING YOURSELF
Learning and appreciating your character strengths as well as your 'weaknesses' are key to being able to support yourself as you go through life. What are your strengths? What do you find challenging? What area in your life or character needs work? It also helps to reflect on your achievements and accomplishments on both a personal + professional level. It’s important NOT to put yourself down or sabotage your efforts. This part increases your self-awareness and you can do so through journaling. Another way to help increase your self-knowledge is by taking this 10-minute personality test based on the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The test itself may surprise you and the results are informative yet light. It'll help to get to know yourself better, if there are some parts that you don't agree with, it means that you are being aware of yourself. I highly recommend it.
2. INNER CONFIDENCE
We are conditioned to feel happy when we receive compliments, praise, and reassurance from others. If that’s not forthcoming, we can feel insecure or vulnerable, sometimes even lacking direction. Being self-reliant involves the ability to be confident in yourself and whatever you are doing. Not relying on this external validation takes practice to unlearn this pre-conditioning.
3. MAKING OUR OWN DECISIONS
Kloppers advises against looking consistently outside for security and relying on others to accept us for who we are. When we can accept ourselves as unique and practice non-judgment (also on the mindfulness page), we can find security from inner sources. This rational, independent thinking is something we’ve already touched on. As children, we learn to look to others for guidance when solving problems or making decisions. The tendency becomes ingrained within us, and as adults, we aren’t always capable of handling adversity in a way that we feel sure about. Have confidence in your capabilities and it becomes a lot easier to find security within.
4. RECOGNIZE + MANAGE DEPENDENCE
Becoming aware of when you tend to turn to others is a part of self-knowledge. We may know that we turn to others for certain things, but sometimes this means we’re missing out on a chance to build up our exercise our confidence. Setting goals and achieving them your way not only gives you a sense of accomplishment and reward but greater confidence in your judgment.
5. ACCEPT YOURSELF FOR WHO YOU ARE
Self-acceptance is a huge thing. Instead of looking to others for approval, it’s all right to give yourself that approval. Seeking others’ acceptance is yet another way that we persist in our dependence on others, and it can be a pervasive, hard-to-shake habit. To develop self-reliance, we need to acknowledge these tendencies before we can change them.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON ON SELF-RELIANCE
Self-reliance is the topic (and title) of an 1841 essay from US philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. Self-Reliance contains Emerson’s beliefs and perspectives on how society negatively impacts our growth. He argues strongly that self-reliance, self-trust, and individualism, amongst other things, are ways that we can avoid the conformity imposed upon us. Or, he also argues, that we quite frequently impose upon ourselves. That is, being true to yourself, being capable of independent thought, knowing your loves, and being able to pursue them independently of others’ judgments is not the same as isolating yourself from society. While Emerson does expand considerably on the value of solitude, the idea of social networks—of having friends—features strongly in his work. (C Moore, 2019)
SOME MORE WAYS TO DEVELOP SELF-RELIANCE ACCORDING TO EMERSON'S WORK:
1. HAVING YOUR OWN VALUES / THINKING INDEPENDENTLY
The ability to think autonomously goes hand in hand with trusting your own instincts. Society’s values may not be aligned with our own deep-rooted beliefs. This can be at such a subconscious level that we don’t always pick up on it. If society values one thing, and it’s not congruent with our own, we can feel as though it’s hard to gain acceptance. For example, you may value diversity and inclusiveness but maybe work somewhere that doesn’t also value such a culture. This creates a cognitive dissonance that can be unpleasant to deal with (Fostinger,1957).
2. NOT RELYING ON 'THINGS' TO FEEL HAPPINESS
Emerson also argued strongly about the negative potential influences of material possessions; he believed that we live in materialistic times. Life is constantly changing if we tie our happiness to external objects, what happens when they’re gone?
3. DECIDE WHO YOU WANT TO BE + HOW YOU WANT TO GET THERE
Pretty much, this is almost the same as having your own values. Once we know our own values, we can understand what makes us happy and how we would like to live our lives. Then, we exercise our own judgment about how we want to get there. Arguably, these aren’t the only ways we can develop self-reliance.
*Please note that the information on this page does not mean that you shouldn't get help outside of yourself but the first person that you need to work with is yourself, especially for those moments when you are not feeling your best at any time of the day. If you need help from your support system, therapist, and/or doctor depending on your mental health condition(s)... please do seek or continue with that external help. I'm sharing info that can help manage your mental health that is readily accessible and can positively impact your mental well-being on a day to day basis.
This is a mindset that I highly recommend you to think about, the concept has motivated me throughout my mental health journey and I hope it can help you as well. The next page to check out is MINDFULNESS and after that MNSTR METHOD page. I'll highlight the practices that I've been doing in the past year that has contributed to the self-reliance mindset and much more.