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How Independent Are You?

Fireworks display over a river

As we move through another Independence Day, many Americans reflect on the journey our country took towards Independence. It's also a perfect opportunity to turn the lens more personally and ask about your own relationship with Independence.

Independence means self-rule or self-governing. Being able to make decisions for yourself in a manner that is in alignment with your core beliefs. We celebrate the idea of Independence when considering our nation's rejection of English ideals in favor or our own. On the macro level, we struck out on our own to create a Union of ideals that we believed in, at least theoretically. And in order to do this, we had to create a story that went against the grain of those ruling us.

Looking inward. it can be fascinating to explore the ways we may be still be living through ideals of others that we have absorbed as our own. In order to accomplish this successfully we must first ask questions around what our core beliefs are and where they come from.

This reminds me of the Legend of the Ham Pan which goes like this. Every year the women of the Hale Family would gather to cook Ham for Thanksgiving. They would gather around and watch their mother prepare the Ham. She would cut off the two ends and place it in the pan with all the fixings and off it would go into the oven.

Many many years later, there was a Thanksgiving gathering at the granddaughter's home and again all the women were in the kitchen, including her grandmother. The young woman was preparing her first Thanksgiving ham while all the other's were keeping her company. She cut off each end of the ham and placed it in the large pan. The grandmother asked her why she was cutting off the perfectly good ends of the ham. The young woman said, it was how she was taught by her mother. Her mother said to the grandmother "well, this was how you taught me". The grandmother stood there aghast and said "I cut the ends off because I didn't have a pan big enough to hold a large ham". And just like this we can see how stories and beliefs are passed down generation to generation and only when someone explores the questions of why, do we truly become independent.

The majority of people still live the lives and stories they were handed as children. At times, these stories don't fit, but because they don't know anything else, nor have they sat consciously to ask questions about their thoughts and feelings, they will continue to operate on auto pilot. This is not independence.

Below are just a few areas to ask questions to determine your level of independence:

  1. What are my expectations of my relationships? Sometimes we expect certain behaviors from others because we were taught that was acceptable.

  2. What does my work like look like? Many people still engage in excessive work and little play because this was modeled for them growing up. Or the opposite, excessive play and little work. Many will engage in the familiar without really asking or examining their ideals.

  3. What is my ability to understand what self care for my body means? If we eat fast food daily, it may be that this is not a question that we have really explored.

The questions leading towards greater independence are endless. How we operate in the world is molded from a very young age. Just when you believe you have created independence physically from your family, you may be surprised to discover that you are still in many ways a creature of co-dependent habits.

Knowing where you still have the opportunity to grow your independence is the first step towards becoming more wholly you.

Next year, at the July 4th observation, there's a chance that with the right questions and exploration you may find yourself truly more Independent.


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