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5 Ways to Be More Emotionally Independent (With Examples)


No one likes the idea of being completely dependent on someone else. But many of us allow our emotions to be dependent on another person or our environment.

Learning to be emotionally independent helps you take back control of your life. When you can self-regulate how you’re feeling, you start to feel more optimistic and realize your own self-worth.

This article will teach you how to stop letting your emotions be dependent on others. By the end, you will feel empowered to take control of your emotions to dictate the direction of your life.

What does it mean to be emotionally dependent?

We generally understand that being dependent on someone means you rely on them. But what exactly is emotional dependence?

Emotional dependence means you rely on someone else to determine how you feel.

Research defines emotional dependence as an unhealthy attachment style where your mood is based on someone else’s behavior.

If you read that sentence, you may think that it sounds absurd to engage in that behavior. But trust me, most of us have been emotionally dependent at some point in our lives.

I know in the past I have become emotionally dependent on one too many romantic partners. If they didn’t give me enough attention or if they said something harsh, it could ruin my day.

I was dependent on them behaving in a certain way in order to feel good. As I write it out, I realize how ridiculous it was to give my power away like that.

And you can see how becoming emotionally dependent can quickly become a slippery slope.

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Why do we want to avoid being emotionally dependent?

It may seem obvious that being too emotionally dependent is not going to be healthy long term. But what does the research say are the effects of emotional dependence?

One study found that individuals who were strongly emotionally dependent on their partners were more likely to engage in negative impulsive behavior.

I think of one time when my boyfriend broke up with me in high school. I was so emotionally dependent on him that I remember showing up at his doorstep. I threw every gift he ever gave me on his doorstep.

How’s that for impulsive behavior?

Fortunately, I have grown up and become less emotionally dependent on my romantic partners. But I can see how emotional dependence clouds your rational thinking.

Another study showed that emotionally dependent partners were more likely to consume harmful psychoactive substances.

And last but not least, emotionally dependent people have been found to be more aggressive.

Based on both research and my experience, it’s clear that you want to strive to be emotionally independent. It will benefit both you and those around you.

5 ways to be emotionally independent

There’s no time better than now to ditch emotional independence and self-regulate your emotions. These 5 tips are the perfect recipe to get you there.

1. Remember your own worth

In order to be truly emotionally independent, you need to remember your own worth.

Sometimes we depend on others to give us a sense of validation. But you are a wonderful human being regardless of how someone else feels about you.

Learning to love yourself isn’t always easy. Trust me, I spent the first half of my life focusing on things I thought were wrong with me.

This caused me to seek out love and emotional regulation from my boyfriends and friends. As you could guess, this led to a lot of unnecessary lows in my life.

I am still learning each day to love myself. But I started to practice writing three things I love about myself daily.

Doing this and valuing my own opinions has helped me to depend less on others to feel good or bad. I can look within myself to find reasons to feel happy no matter what.

2. Re-evaluate your reactions

Another way to start becoming more emotionally independent is to take a hard look at your reactions.

You have to examine if your reactions are dependent on someone else or coming from within.

I remember my ex-boyfriend told me he wanted to hang out with his best friend instead of me. I immediately spiraled into a depressive mood.

I wish I could say in this instance I had the good sense to look at how this was a ridiculous reaction. But it took an external source to help me reevaluate my reaction.

My friend said to me, “Why are you letting a silly decision like that make you sad?” It kind of woke me up to realize that I was allowing one action to completely shift my mood.

Since then, I work on looking at my own reactions. I ask myself if they are coming from within or am I allowing someone else’s behavior to control my mood?

You can allow yourself to feel your emotions for a bit. But once you’ve felt the emotion, ask yourself about the source. It’s a simple trick that can help you become emotionally free.

If you need more tips, here's our article on how to handle your emotions better with some helpful tips!

3. Examine your relationships

Sometimes you need to take a hard look at the relationship itself. Unfortunately, there are people who want you to be emotionally dependent on them.

I had an ex-boyfriend in college who got a kick out of emotionally manipulating me. I didn’t realize it until we had been dating for about a year.

He didn’t like it if I was happy and he wasn’t. And he liked it when I would come begging for him to forgive me or take me back.

Sounds healthy, huh? Obviously, it wasn’t a good relationship. But when you like someone a lot, you can allow these things to happen for too long.

Eventually, I started to examine the relationship. It became clear that he wanted me to depend on him emotionally. And I knew this was not healthy for either of us long term.

So we broke up. And it hurt. But I now know how to make sure my relationships are emotionally healthy for both parties.

4. Use daily practices to regulate emotions

Like all things in life, emotional independence takes practice. With repetition, you will become more skilled in emotional regulation.

Incorporating a daily practice where you focus on regulating your own emotions is key. There are several ways to go about doing this.

I personally have found meditation to be an incredible tool for emotional regulation. I am able to tune into how I feel and the version of myself I want to be.

If you don’t enjoy meditation, you could start doing a reflective walk or a breathing practice.

You just need to create space to reflect on your own emotions so you can better control them. Once you’re aware of your emotions and their source, you can be empowered to direct them.

5. Seek professional help

This may be the most important tip of them all. Becoming emotionally independent is not an overnight process. And it’s often best done with someone trained to guide you through the process.

Professionals can help you identify your triggers and better regulate your emotions with tangible tools.

Having an expert who is objective can be critical for helping you identify the patterns that you repeatedly fall into. Because we can’t always see them on our own.

I know some of my emotional patterns were deeply ingrained. They were so hard wired that at times they just felt like a part of my personality that I couldn’t ditch.

Once I got a life coach, things changed. My life coach has helped me integrate some of the daily practices I discussed. Her insight has helped me take better care of my emotional health.

Seek out professional help if you need it. Many times it’s the thing that changes your life.

💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, we've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇

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Download Our FREE Mental Self-Care Cheat Sheet!

Thrive under stress and crush your goals with these 10 instant tips for your mental health.

Wrapping up

It’s never too late to take control of your emotional well-being. You can start to become more emotionally independent today by using the tips from this article. It will be a journey, but it’s a journey you won’t regret. Because one of the most beautiful gifts is realizing that you always have the power to make yourself happy.

Do you consider yourself to be emotionally independent? What's your favorite tip to be less dependent of others? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Ashley Kaiser Writer

Physical therapist, writer, and outdoor enthusiast from Arizona. Self-proclaimed dark chocolate addict and full-time adrenaline junkie. Obsessed with my dog and depending on the day my husband, too.

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