If you’re interested in maintaining your mental health, then you’ve likely logged a lot of hours reading about self-esteem and ways to improve it. Self-esteem is defined as the way a person feels about themself, and while having good self-esteem is undoubtedly important, how exactly to improve it can often seem unclear. One of the most influential factors shaping how you feel about yourself is your level of self-sufficiency.
Despite its importance, self-sufficiency (also known as self-reliance) is often overlooked in the mental wellness space. But, individuals looking to improve their self-esteem would do well to focus their efforts on building up self-sufficiency in their lives. Whether you’re dealing with the fallout from financial stress or trying to muster up the confidence to go after a big goal, establishing self-sufficiency is an essential part of healthy mental wellness. Success starts with knowing you’re capable of accomplishing whatever it is that you set your mind to do.
What is “Self-Sufficiency”?
Psychology Today contributor Dr. Steve Taylor defines self-sufficiency as “a deep-rooted sense of inner completeness and stability.” As with self-esteem, self-sufficiency gives a person a feeling of security and contentment. It goes even further than self-esteem and provides a sense of fundamental wholeness.
That sense of fundamental wholeness means that self-sufficient people aren’t overly concerned with other people’s opinions of them. Insults and personal slights don’t puncture their strong sense of their own worth. By that same token, people with strong self-sufficiency don’t rely on the praise of others to determine how they feel about themselves. Although they feel secure in how they feel about themselves, truly self-sufficient people don’t dwell on their own success.
Why Mental Wellness Matters for Success
Another way to think of self-sufficiency is as a feeling of fundamental well-being. People with strong self-sufficiency have a strong internal centre of gravity grounding them. Their inner sense of well-being equips them to be more resilient to negative life events. Self-sufficient individuals take things in stride and bounce back quickly when life knocks them down—must-have qualities for achieving any goal.
You don’t need to be a psychologist to recognise that, based on their characteristics and overall outlook on life, people with strong self-sufficiency have stronger mental wellness. Simply put: the more you’re able to do for yourself, the better you feel about yourself. Take continuing education, for example. Once you find the learning style that works best for you, the act of learning itself releases positive hormones into the brain. The result is a sense of accomplishment that helps to establish healthy mental wellness and propel you toward future success.
How to Build Up Self-Sufficiency in Your Life
Given all the mental health benefits, you likely want to learn how to build up self-sufficiency in your own life. Doing so begins with taking responsibility for your own life. If, in the past, you’ve relied too much on others, commit to figuring things out yourself. When you’re constantly asking other people to do things for you, you’re denying yourself the confidence that accompanies accomplishing things on your own.
For example, rather than handing off simple car maintenance tasks, learn how to do them yourself. Not only will changing the oil or checking the tyre pressure on your own save you money but taking care of these tasks yourself will give you a sense of accomplishment and reassurance. Of course, there will be times when you need to hand over your car to a professional mechanic, but learning how to do simple car maintenance proves that you can get by on your own.
On your journey to self-sufficiency, there are going to be ups and downs. It’s important to support yourself 100% and not let failures diminish your achievements. Self-reliant people make the best of every situation and avoid negative self-talk. Over time, doing small things for yourself will compound and give you the confidence to tackle bigger goals. You’ve already taken the first step toward becoming a self-sufficient person by recognizing the link between self-sufficiency and mental health.
About the Author
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to health and wellness, including mental health awareness and addiction education.