Independent vs. Hyper-independent
By ANEESA MOIDOO, PSYCHOLOGIST
Independence means being able to take care of yourself and handle tasks on your own. It’s an important skill for adults to have, like managing appointments, work assignments, and maintaining a safe living space.
However, being overly independent, or hyper-independent, can be problematic. Hyper-independence is when someone insists on being completely independent, even when it’s not helpful or when they genuinely need support.
This behavior can be a response to trauma, where individuals avoid asking for help. Signs of hyper-independence include overcommitting to tasks, reluctance to delegate or ask for help, guardedness in relationships, secretiveness, mistrust of others, few close relationships, and experiencing stress or burnout.
Trauma responses, like hyper-independence, can stem from distressing events that the brain processes as threats. People may develop hyper-independence due to feelings of undeserving social support, past neglect, mistrust of others, or as a coping mechanism to regain control in uncertain situations.
Children raised to believe that independence is superior or those who experienced role reversal in the family may also develop hyper-independence. Treatment involves recognizing and addressing these underlying issues through therapy, focusing on building healthy relationships, trust, and understanding personal limitations.
Healing work for hyper-independence includes letting go of perfectionism, exploring identity beyond doing things for others, understanding the cost of not asking for help, realizing that help is available, normalizing asking for help, and learning how to delegate. It’s essential to remember that hyper-independence served as a survival mechanism during a challenging time.
Moving past this response takes time, involves small steps, and might include setbacks. Seeking support through therapy is encouraged, allowing individuals to let go of maladaptive coping patterns and work towards a healthier mindset.
Healing from hyper-independence involves acknowledging and addressing the root causes that drive extreme self-reliance. This process encourages individuals to embrace imperfections in themselves and others while exploring a sense of identity beyond fulfilling roles for others.
Recognizing the negative impact of avoiding help, there’s a shift towards viewing seeking assistance as a healthy and necessary aspect of life, particularly in adulthood where support is available. Normalizing the act of asking for help is emphasized, challenging the misconception that it denotes weakness.
Through self-assessment, individuals understand the personal costs of avoiding help in terms of well-being and relationships. Learning to delegate tasks becomes crucial, promoting the acceptance of collaboration and reliance on others.
This healing journey, often facilitated through therapy, aims to cultivate self-awareness, self-compassion, and a more balanced approach to independence by gradually challenging and transforming deep-seated beliefs and behaviors.
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Daily Tribune)