On Dependency (or How To Stop Being A Wuss and Embrace Change)

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The problem with relying on someone or something is they (or it) won’t always be there. Then what?

If we’re not prepared to live without something, suddenly being forced to live without it will be an enormously difficult, and stressful, transition.

I’m not immune to being dependent.

Just one example: I used to use a blender every morning to make my breakfast smoothie. Fresh (or frozen) fruit with soy/almond/rice/hemp milk or coconut water. It’s healthy and because my body doesn’t have to work hard to digest it, incredibly energizing. I can drink the smoothie and I’m immediately ready to start the day with a quickness.

I’ve been “on the road” for over 7 months and I don’t have my blender. Therefore, I don’t have my go-to breakfast and my days don’t start out “right.”

The Root Of Dependency Is A Fear Of Change

Adapting to change is part of human nature. A look at any time in history proves that we’ve been adapting to change since the big bang.

But for some of us, adapting to change doesn’t come naturally anymore. We still adapt because we have no choice, but we don’t do it willingly.

I used to strongly dislike change myself, but now I relish in the opportunity to flex my change muscle.

Going back to my breakfast example: Instead of my regular morning smoothie I now eat a bunch of locally available fresh fruit. (Here in Chiang Mai I eat a lot of pineapple, mango, cantaloupe, and bananas).

Change is good because it pushes us to our limits. How do muscles grow? By stressing them; making them work. The change muscle is no different.

Some Of Us Hate Change

For example, when a significant other goes out by themselves, are you the type who doesn’t know what to do with yourself? Do you feel bored, hurt, abandoned, or worse, jealous? (Life Lesson #59: Jealousy is mankind’s most useless emotion.)

Is this any good for you or the relationship?

It’s OK To Hate Change

If you’re currently dependent on someone or something it’s going to be uncomfortable at first when making the move towards independence.

By independence I don’t necessarily mean getting rid of whatever you’re dependent upon. I’m not suggesting everybody in a relationship break up.

When I encounter a couple that has their own separate lives in addition to their lives together I feel an immense sense of happiness for them. That is my vision of an ideal relationship, although it’s very rare.

I refuse to settle for anything less and when I see a happy couple that also have separate lives it reinforces to me that it’s possible.

Girls should have “girls weekends” and guys should be able to “hang out with the boys” or whatever the case may be.

How To Embrace Change

Step 1: Take A Small, Easily Doable, Break

Break free from whatever you’re dependent upon for just 24 hours. Knowing you’ll go back to whatever it is you’re dependent upon in 24 hours will make it easier to get through it.

Some things you may want to break free from:

– TV

– Internet

– Texting

– A relationship (I don’t mean this negatively. I mean it in regards to my view of a healthy relationship, both platonic and romantic.)

– Your iPod

– Fill in the blanks: _______

Step 2: Reflect On The Change

After 24 hours are up reflect on how you felt by breaking your dependency.

Was it easier or more difficult than you expected?

How do you feel about the change?

Did you immediately go back to your dependency? In other words, were you counting down the minutes until you could watch TV, go online, text your friends, etc?

How To Truly Break Your Dependencies

A 24 hour break is all well and good, but it’s just an exercise to help you realize that you really can adapt to change and break a dependency. It’s not a permanent solution.

The ultimate test in breaking your dependencies is by practicing minimalism. Getting rid of extraneous “stuff” (<– PDF written by, uhh, me, haha) will make you realize just how little you need to live a Ridiculously Extraordinary Life.

Every day people ask me how I can possibly live with so few things. On the flipside, when I see other backpackers almost falling over due to the heavy loads on their backs I wonder how they can possibly “live” with so much.

The stress and strain on their faces is blatantly visible.

Or when I hear someone complain about how much debt they’re in while buying a new camera lens, new video game, new clothes, new car, or new anything, I can’t help but think how positively they could change their lives with a little bit of minimalism.

When you practice minmalism you have fewer choices to make, fewer things to keep track of, fewer things to stress about, and you begin to progress towards Ridiculously Extraordinary Freedom.

Need Minimalist Help?

There are a lot of good eBooks/Web sites out there. I’ve mentioned many of them in the past.

Leo Babauta’s work is a fantastic place to get what you need.

The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life (<– Leo’s print  book)
Mnmlist.com

Other minimalists you may enjoy:

Everett Bogue

David Damron

Tammy Strobel

Joshua Becker

There are many more, but there’s only so much you can read in a day. :)

How do you feel? Hit me up in the comments …



36 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve been reading a few blogs about minimalism (such as Leo’s and David Damron recently) and slowly implementing it into my life. Currently I’ve been getting rid of or giving away trinkets, old possessions and photographing anything I want to remember, then binning it. It feels good to get rid of it. I read your Minmalist Quickstart Guide PDF and am now inspired to sell more of my CDs, DVDs and books on ebay/craigslist. I want to get to the point where it’s just me and the bare essentials, although thats some way off yet! Thanks Karol, keep writing these great posts!

    • Hi Tom,

      Taking a photo and binning it is a great plan! I think Leo Babauta wrote about doing that. Although I haven’t done it myself I think it’s a great idea.

      “I want to get to the point where it’s just me and the bare essentials.” I love it…let me know how it goes!

      Karol

  2. It’s funny how our minds become addicted to lots of things. I just had the biggest quarrel ever with my fiancée and I thought «I need a couple of days to think this for myself». Then she calls, asks to see me tonight and I say yes! The feeling of losing her comes much bigger than my thinking needs.

    How do I feel about being dependent? If we are talking about relationships it could be worse, but the burden always worths it. About stuff? I may need to make some experiments such as throwing the laptop through the window but I can fully understand the feeling.

    • Thanks Pau…it’s human nature to become attached to things/people. But it’s not always healthy. If you don’t believe it’s healthy then it’s not healthy and something should change, you know?

      hehe, throwing your laptop through the window might be a little extreme, but it might be fun none-the-less! :)

  3. Good info. I’m very anti-dependency. I realized that my youngest thought he couldn’t live without a DVR so I canceled it for a month. We frequently get rid of stuff. We live with very little “stuff” but I’m thinking of some things I could do to break the dependency even more. Hmmm.

    Oh, and my husband and I lead happy lives individually. It’s totally possible and makes the marriage better. ;)

    • That’s awesome Shannon! He probably hated it for the first few days and then learned to live a child’s life. :) I mean, come on, we didn’t have all this crap when we were kids and we turned out fine. :) (I think!) That said, I was dependent on my DVR until I canceled cable in 2006, so I know what it’s like.

      From your blog I get the impression that you and your husband have your own separate things going on and I love that. Thanks for being a good example.

  4. Another post with some great points to make us think. I’m currently working towards minimalism in a similar way to Tom and definately agree with the blogs you have listed – great reads.

    Thanks for the link to your book on Everett’s site – I only recently discovered is site (through you perhaps?) and am slowly catching up with all his posts so hadn’t discovered your book there yet. Can’t wait to read it!

  5. I made more big strides toward ultra-minimalism this weekend, and it feels great! I specifically tackled things I’ve been holding onto for ages–things I thought you just “had to keep,” like certain documents in the file cabinet and gifts from old girlfriends. Things that were given to me, like gifts and cards, are especially challenging. I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt when I think about trashing them, though I know for a fact that the original givers wouldn’t care whatsoever. So, a bunch of that stuff finally found its way to the dumpster yesterday!

    • Awesome Isaac! I’ve felt the same about some things. Minimalism isn’t always about going to the extreme. It’s just about getting down to the essentials. You can believe when I get to Poland in May I’m going to buy a blender. :)

  6. I am currently living as an uber minimalist. I think I’ve got it to down to about 55 things (this includes my flight itinerary and individual pairs of underpants). I’m taking it to the extreme. I literally live in a tiny room with bare white walls in Denmark. I’m not even kidding. Friends are disturbed by my lack of stuff…

    Interestingly, I often worry that I won’t be able to sustain this lifestyle when I do become interdependent on a partner. Guess I have to try and enjoy it while it lasts. For those of you on your way to minimalism, let me assure you that it kicks ass…

    • That’s awesome Jason! And great that you count every single thing. Everybody else seems to be cheating when they count. hehe :)

      As for a partner: I don’t expect someone to be as minimalist as me. That said, I don’t expect them to have a different outfit for every day of the year either. A middle ground would be sweet.

      • For me, it’s not so much an issue of how much stuff a partner owns. I wouldn’t mind how many outfits she would own etc… But it’s the difficulty in balancing my amazingly minimalist lifestyle with the addition of a partner’s lifestyle. For example, I love how insanely uncluttered and neat my place is all the time due to owning so few possessions. I love not having the distraction of a TV. I love living with a tiny fridge and not owning an oven or even a microwave. All of these things will have to change once I get a partner. Sometimes I actually feel that my ultra minimalism is a sort of unsustainable fantasy land.

        • Interesting. Do you not cook? Or do you just eat strictly raw foods?

          As far as TV: I’m with you. I’d rather not have a TV in my home either.

          • I have a little stovetop on my cubic meter of kitchen bench space to cook with and also to heat things with. The only slight nuisance is having to cook my morning porridge on the stovetop, rather than using a microwave. I also don’t have a toaster, but that’s not a major problem.

            • ahh gotcha…a stovetop is enough to make most of the food I eat regularly. Although ovens are fun.

              porridge on the stovetop is way better than microwave by the way! :)

  7. Jason, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I cut back rather quickly, as a big time collector of…almost everything, I went from thousands of items to less than 100 in about two months. I live in a tiny white room right now too, and it’s amazing. Nobody I know can fathom it, but I’ve never been happier. I’m more productive, active, creative… and free.

    Nice post Karol! I really had trouble with dependency on a girlfriend a while ago. When we split I wasn’t able to function at all.

    …I’ve matured a lot since then. Live and learn!

    • Hi William,

      “When we split I wasn’t able to function at all.” We’ve all been there. But knowing it now it will be easier to see and change the patterns of dependency next time.

      As far as your minimalism…going from thousands of items to less than 100 is phenomenal! Congrats!

      Karol

    • Hey William, I just posted a reply to Karol where my original post is. I’d be interested to know if you ever feel the same way.

  8. getting rid of things and having the bare minimums also helps with staying in the flow and it helped me focus on priorities better :)
    Hope you are having an wonderful time in Thailand!!! Keep us posted :)

  9. I admit it. I’m addicted to Gchat. I’m in love with Gchat. I need to tone it done. It’s just.. this.. job.. is .. so .. boring!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (working on that problem..)

  10. Thanks for the post Karol! I enjoyed reading it. I especially like you pointing out healthy relationships. I could not agree more, and I often wonder why people would want something other than that.

    • Thank you Amanda. Most people in relationships settle because they don’t know how to be single. And yes, I say most as in the majority. Without a partner you’re an outcast. People (family, friends, strangers) question what’s wrong with you. “Why don’t you have a girlfriend/boyfriend?” It’s simply easier to be in a relationship, any relationship, than no relationship. Hence high divorce rates and unhappy people. I don’t care what anybody says, it is not ingrained in a guy’s psyche to cheat. Men cheat because they’re not in relationships they want to be in. They’re just too weak to leave. It’s easier to cheat than to leave. Same goes for women, of course.

      • I agree with your cheating theory completely. It is easier to stay, cheat, forgive, or divorce than to be single and looking until you find the person who is right for you. I know how that outcast thing goes with strangers, they almost pity you because you don’t have a partner… blah blah blah. I am an unmarried 29 year old woman with no kids, I know that look all too well. I pity the people who think that way though. I will guarantee that I am happier in my life by not settling when it comes to my personal life. Plus dating is just way too much fun… all the stories and fun that can come from it!!! You get to meet so many strangers and new people, it is always interesting… even when it is bad.

  11. Great article & something that is a huge awareness in my life: I fear change in lifestyle. My biggest trigger is thinking about “how can I possibly manage THAT?” But, I take the proactive step and dig deep & hard as to what I’m really fearing. I believe it to be the idea that I’ll be lost, even annihilated, by the pain of losing something/someone I care deeply about. That my sense of self would feel abandoned and drifting — of who I am, to be defined by what I’m associated with and what I do. I’m glad to be coming to that realization and though the process is a tough one, I’m much better for it. Doing this has actually lessened my fear around giving myself more to things that I love and opening up to taking risks – because my inner core will never disown me for the events & circumstances that will occur in my very wonderful life.

    • Hi Rache,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Dependency isn’t something that most of us can just flip a switch and change if we have a strong feeling of attachment to things and people. It is a bit of a process. But the fact that you’re acknowledging it and working on it means that you’ll be successful in eventually not feeling so dependent.

      Cheers,
      Karol

  12. Each time I come face to face with change it feels like my heart is beating so fast it is going to come out of my chest due to the excitement and endless possiblities.
    Maybe my problem is being too welcoming with change.
    Hm… -_- maybe I need a 24 hr break and welcome monotony.

    • Thanks Yati. I’m not sure if it’s a problem to welcome change. :) Unless, of course, you use it as an excuse to not make things happen.

      Excitement and endless possibilities are great! :)

  13. I always love to donate and get rid of a bag of stuff every month! It feels so good to let go of things, it’s such a cathartic experience. I know i will never get to just that state, for me it’s a continuous process to try to live simply and walk on this earth lightly.

    Thoughts?

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