Several years ago, working late in the office was quite common for me as a team lead. Much of it was my own workload, along with being one who wanted those I led to succeed as much as I did, so whenever they needed me for something they needed help with, I was there. This was several years ago, when I was a novice at being a leader. Situations my team members brought to me seemed valid enough for me to take on, giving them the support they needed. But, a few years, and many late work nights sitting at my desk alone while everyone else was at home or out enjoying life, later, I learned I was where I was because I had done some things in a way that should have been done a little different.
When I decided to make things right, it hit me that, not only had I hurt myself, but also the self-efficacy of one of my team members. I’ll call her Nacadia for privacy reasons. Over the years of working together, along with other team members, Nacadia and I had a good work relationship, which developed as we worked together on several projects, and through a plethora of problems encountered within those projects. Then, I began to take steps to do some things differently. One of those ways was to teach Nacadia to learn to fish for herself, instead of my simply giving her the fish. I had begun to understand that in my trying to help her, I hindered her growth by doing too much for her. Thus, she never developed the sea legs she needed to stand on her own when the boat got rocky, and her dependence on me, and other team members when I wasn’t there, stunted her.
Before I began to ween her off the level of assistance I was giving her, I took the time to gather all the tools she needed to be able to prepare her fishing line, cast it, and reel in her fish. I even had our teams manager’s agreement and approval that this was what needed to be done to strengthen her skills and self-confidence. But, as I began to explain to her what I was doing and why, Nacadia panicked. And, our relationship spiraled downward from that point forward because she didn’t think she could do what needed to be done in order to step up to a higher level of independence in the work we did. Instead of trying, her fear of autonomy drove her, by her own choice, to another group that was no longer in the same sector of the field we worked in.
What we see here in this example I shared is what can contribute to over dependence on someone, and what it can cause in that person who is over dependent. The greatest thing about any relationship is being able to depend on your significant other to come through when you’re running late due to a traffic jam after a long day of work to pick up the children, and start dinner. Nothing’s more reassuring to know you have a reliable bestie, even a workplace bestie, who’s willing to support you through any pickled situation. And, what’s greater than having someone, your mom or your dad perhaps, keep reminding you that your dreams are possible and you can do it!
You are not alone in desiring these types of nourishing acts from a healthy relationship. As they give you the freedom to grow into and be all that you are made to be, as you do the same for others in reciprocity. We all need some level of support that’s genuine and effective. But, all too easy, under the radar of noticeability, can depending on others too much creep in. You might want to say, “Well, if I can depend on that person for anything and everything, what’s wrong with that? Isn’t that a good thing?” It is… until that person cannot be around for one reason or another, either temporarily or permanently. It is… until you begin to think or believe that you cannot survive or function without that person because you gave up everything that made you, you, in order to fit yourself to them. It is… until you look into the mirror and think that you don’t recognize the person looking back at you because the one you depended on is no longer accessible. Because, here’s the thing, beloved, you are made to be a “whole” that functions on your own, fitted to be a part of a larger picture.
In any type of relationship, romantic, workplace, or friendship, as you are able to function alone in the core of who you are, you are able to enjoy life, work, or any other life event no matter who’s around or not around. It’s when you join others that you simply bring your greatness to the table to contribute to the larger picture of putting your “whole” piece together with their “whole” piece. And, here’s the best reason of all, when their piece is no longer available, you still fully function fearlessly!
So, if you’ve been one who commonly looks to one or more people for everything, what do you do when that significant other you so intensely relied on leaves? What do you do when your manager says, she believes you have it in you to take the lead with more initiative and responsibility now that your team lead or your team bestie has been promoted to a position that renders them inaccessible at the level you’re use to? Here are a few things that can steer you towards a more confident independent you in any area of life.
Explore & Adore Your Core
As humans, the way we are built physically requires support. At times, each of us need to lean on something or someone to gain balance. For the most part, however, we are able to stand and walk on our own. What enables that ability is the core system within our bodies. One definition describes our core as “Your core is a complex series of muscles, extending far beyond your abs, including everything besides your arms and legs. It is incorporated in almost every movement of the human body.” In other words, everything you do is supported by a core system within you! And, the more you strengthen it, the more you’re able to do with that inner strength. Perhaps you’re a Physical Trainer or a Body Builder, and know what many of us do not. But, if like me, you are not, as I’ve had to do in order to understand what needs to be cultivated to press forth potential, I had to learn what my inner core is.
Similarly, with your likes and dislikes, with your strengths and shortcomings, with what makes you smile when no one else is around, with what gets juices of your passion flowing towards purpose, you need to discover what’s innately part of who you are. Once you do, it makes way for you to begin to live in ways that strengthen and allow you to regularly utilize those parts of who you are in fitting ways, loving your unique and valuable design. Further it empowers you to do more as your own inner support system helps you to recognize and balance how much support you truly need from others.
Refine, not Redefine, Your Divine Design
In the absence of understanding the core of who you are as a person, an unnecessary risk exists that can make way for external things to redefine your innate design. With some, they redefine themselves by what they do, because who they enjoy being is perceived not to be up to par to meet society’s measurement bar. Or, they redefine themselves by who they’re with, attempting to please and appease the other by becoming what the other wants them to be. Once the basis of that redefinition is removed, there’s a feeling of loss of who they are, and unexpected unstableness.
But, as you explore and learn to adore your core, it gives you a blueprint or a mold based on your own inner desires, gifts, and talents. Thus, instead of redefining them to fit external pressures, you can refine them as you strengthen and use your internal treasures. And, when jobs change, people change, or material possessions change, you are still a strong you.
Compromise Without Downsize
What helps to be refined and not redefined is to understand how and what about you functions well, what you’re willing to give a little on, and that which is non-negotiable, so you can stand strong in who you are. Whatever relationship you’re in, whether it’s romantic, workplace, family, or friends, compromise is required; for, inflexibility isn’t healthy for any relationship. It is healthy, however, to not allow yourself to be reduced, not to allow your core muscles, that support who you truly are, to become atrophied from the greatness of all you’ve been created to embody and live out.
In taking these three steps, exploring & adoring your core; refining, not redefining, your Divine design; and compromising without downsizing, you will begin to see a more independent you emerging. You’ll notice where you’ll spend more time taking actions fearlessly for that which you need no one else’s permission. And, appearing will be confidence to keep your toolbox filled with all you need, in various things you do, to prepare your fishing line to make a cast and catch, in ways that empower you to be able to feed others too!
Love You to Life!
Lukeisha Carr, BCACLC
Coaching to Cultivate the Abundant Life on an Unshakable Foundation!