Independence Without Isolation

None of us are, or should be, truly independent. Without our relationships to others, we would not be who we are. Learning to navigate the winding path between connectedness and independence is key to our happiness and relationships.

Independence, along with Assertiveness and Emotional Expression, is part of the Self-Expression Composite in the EQ-i 2.0™ model of emotional intelligence (EI).

What is Independence as a dimension of EI?

Independence, in the context of emotional intelligence, is:

The ability to self-direct. Independence means you are able to plan, decide, and complete daily tasks autonomously, free from emotional dependency.

When Independence is low, people have difficulty holding their own viewpoint in the face of disagreement. They tend to go along with the people around them. With a lack of clarity of how they see things or feel, they rely on others to determine their emotional states and positions on issues that matter to them. Others will likely experience those with low Independence as clingy, indecisive, and seeking emotional security from others.

Well-developed Independence allows you to hear the viewpoints of others, but stand solidly on your own when you believe that is the right course of action. You are able to decide for yourself, without seeking excessive reassurance from others.

Two things you can do to improve Independence right now:

  1. Do I agree? Or do I disagree? Is this what I think I should be doing right now? Or is this what I think someone else thinks I should be doing right now? Set an alarm to remind yourself to just stop, notice, ask those questions a few times each day.
  2. Beware of “I don’t care.” Where would you like to go for dinner? Often we reflexively answer “I don’t care – anything is fine with me.” The next time someone asks one of these questions, ask yourself if it’s really true. What do you want? Then respond by saying it.

Too much of a good thing:

A crucial insight in life is that there is no fixed, “right” way to be. Instead, we must focus on the practice of constantly finding and re-finding balance between opposites. Independence is no exception. We must depend on others, and others must depend on us, and unbalanced Independence is just as problematic as being overly dependent.

Unbalanced independence shows up as a person who is overly identified with the role of devil’s advocate, who makes choices simply to be in opposition to the group. Overly Independent people occur to others as isolated, uncollaborative, and difficult to work with. Rather than throttling your valuable Independence, however, focus on balancing it with more effort toward Interpersonal Relationships, Empathy, and Social Responsibility.

Until next time, thank you for reading, and stay tuned for more on emotional intelligence. In our next installment in this series on EQ we will be moving to the Interpersonal Composite, which includes the dimensions of Interpersonal Relationships, Empathy, and Social Responsibility. Until then, you can subscribe to our newsletter via email, and click here if you are interested in taking the EQ-i 2.0 assessment.

Finally, please pass this article along if you know someone who might find value. It helps us, and it might just help them too.

Read More Articles in the “Emotional Intelligence” Series

Can You Define Emotion?

In our everyday lives, we should understand our emotions as complex responses, experienced both cognitively and physiologically, that are an integral part of the overall process by which we make sense of and interact with the world and others around us.

The EQ-i 2.0® Model of Emotional Intelligence

Unlike IQ, emotional intelligence is a set of skills that can be developed with practice. Some may come more naturally than others, but with awareness and effort, we can develop our weaker areas, and in doing so gain even more from our strengths.

Overcome Self-Doubt: How to Build Self-Regard

When we have healthy levels of Self-Regard we experience a sense of inner strength and self-confidence. When we struggle with Self-Regard, we can be simultaneously over-critical of our weaknesses while also unable to leverage and enjoy our strengths.

Feeling Misunderstood? Developing Emotional Self-Awareness Could Help.

A person who lacks Emotional Self-Awareness can struggle to differentiate between their feelings and their logical sources, often because they avoid introspection and reflection. They might frequently find themselves surprised by the reactions and emotional states of others, while often feeling misunderstood themselves.

Independence Without Isolation

Without our relationships to others, we would not be who we are. Learning to navigate the winding path between connectedness and independence is key to our happiness and relationships.

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