There is an interesting phenomena in our world impacting many people from a young age. It gets re-worded and people rationalize it, but I believe it to be detrimental to having personal happiness. This phenomena is called hyper independence.
Hyper independence, sometimes called Ultra independence has been classified as a trauma response for when an individual fails to have their needs met by their caregivers. They develop an attitude that they will be the only person who can meet their needs, and in their later years will wall themselves off to genuine trust in relationships.
I have noticed there are various degrees of hyper independence. I think it’s rare to see extreme cases where an individual completely closes themselves off to the outside world and when this happens it tends to be labeled something more extreme. The more common occurrences which I observe tend to include things like:
- Unwilling to ask for help, especially when struggling
- Difficulty being vulnerable with others
- An inability to accept circumstances
- Anxiousness surrounding uncertainty
People with hyper independent behaviors tend to be reliable and well respected by their peers. Our society views independence as a good thing, and it is, except when it is taken to the extreme. The glorification of independence often creates a distorted perspective of what it really is. Independence is something to be valued when it enables you to meet your own needs. Being able to pay your own bills, take care of yourself, and the freedom to create the life you want to live are all valuable parts of being independent.
However, being independent doesn’t mean being alone. There are many movies with a “Lone Wolf” protagonist. Mad Max, I Am Legend, Book of Eli. Interesting how many of them take place in a post-apocalyptic setting. While these characters are fun to watch in movies, in reality, traveling across a wasteland with nothing but a dog for company would be immensely difficult. Humans are social creatures. It is hardwired into our biology to be a part of a group and build connections with other humans. When we deny ourselves these experiences whether by choice or circumstance, we suffer negative physiological responses.
Unfortunately, the world is a bit different than the environment we evolved in. Thousands of years ago we lived in tribes and basically new everyone we lived with. Even as cities formed, people would still gather in the town square and making connections with others held the same level of importance to our survival. It is only now, in the Age of Information, where we have this illusion of being connected but truly separate. Things like social media and Zoom allow us to feel connected, and overall I think they are good, but they don’t replace the genuine connection of being face to face with someone. They don’t allow for people to physically help someone who is going through a tough time. If your eyes are the windows to your soul, then a screen would be like having limousine tints.
The good news is these behaviors can be unlearned. Hyper independence, like many trauma responses, is a way for an individual to feel safe when their environment feels unsafe and persists even after their environment has become safe again. When we are no longer living our life in fight-or-flight mode, we have the opportunity to heal our old wounds and develop healthier, more fulfilling ways of living. If you struggle with hyper independent behaviors, there’s more good news. It’s up to you to change the behavior.
I have found people to work best with incremental changes. It can cause a lot of stress to make a 180 degree shift in your behavior. Most people can start by asking for help, or better yet, accept help when it is offered. It’s quite likely you’ll be able to do whatever tasks people are offering help for, after all, we built our lives on doing things for ourselves, but that’s not the point. Accepting help develops our ability to trust others, and the easier the task, the more likely they will show they can be trusted.
When we develop a significant amount of trust with someone, it opens the door to be vulnerable. Then it is just a matter of taking the leap. Although if you put it off long enough, you might get lucky and have a break down, forcing you to be vulnerable with someone. I wouldn’t recommend that path but the universe cares more about learning the lesson than how difficult the lesson might be. Being vulnerable is an extension of trust, and trust is a result of nurturing a relationship.
Some of the issues around hyper independence are more complex but all of them really result from distrust. At a young age our caregivers showed they were unable to provide for us and as a result it created a sense of distrust in other people and the world. We felt we could trust only ourselves and in all honesty, we got pretty good results. It’s only once we reach the next step in our healing that these behaviors become an issue.
Any way you can develop more trust with other people is a good thing, and don’t worry about people abusing your trust. With hyper independent people it usually isn’t given without good cause! It may not come easy but if this is something you struggle with and want to heal, I know you’re more than capable of it!
I hope this article has been helpful to you whether you struggle with hyper independent behaviors or simply want to be more aware of things others might be struggling with. If you’re interested in a coaching session, hope on over to my Book a Lesson tab and we will find something that works for you. I wish you happiness and blessings in all that you do.
To my fellows, may your seeking be fruitful and your findings bountiful!