There was once a little bird sitting in his nest. He wanted to learn how to fly. He kept waiting for his mother to help or dad to take him on his back. Finally the mother pushed him into the winds and asked him to fly. As the little bird plunged down, he put his trust in his little wings and flapped them till he could finally fly.

The little bird was born with the ability to fly all he needed was a little trust in himself. He was capable of soaring the skies; all he needed was to find his wings. He had to learn how to be self reliant.  All around us nature gives us examples of self reliance, to depend on one’s own skills and learn how to trust our own abilities over everything else.

So what is self- reliance? Above everything else, it is the trust in one’s own self. It is the ability to rely on our own judgment and wisdom and make our own decisions. It is often said that the best decision one can make often comes from within; when we put faith in our own self and look for the right direction.

As we grow up we are expected to become self reliant. However, we limit our idea of self reliance to economic or intellectual independence. There is another important bit to self reliance, and that is emotional self reliance. In other words, the ability to take care of our emotional well-being and become a source of emotional support for ourselves.

Somewhere in the hustle of life, we forget about our emotional well-being. We forget to nurture our emotional reliance and somewhere along the line forget our emotional wings. We ignore the fact that there exists within us the capacity to develop our emotional reliance.

So what happens when we forget these little wings of ours? What are the consequences of forgetting that we can look after ourselves emotionally as well? We slowly build a cage around ourselves which stops us from using our own wings. We become like a bird in the cage that can fly but has lost the faith to do so.

  • The cage of reassurance: This cage traps us because we become more and more reliant on others’ opinion. We need the people around us to tell us what we are doing is right or just that things will be fine. We increasingly rely on people to make us feel confident about ourselves to the point that we lose trust in our own ability to make decisions. We fear making any decision, big or small, without consulting anyone. This does not mean that we do not need others or that we should not counsel with others before taking a decision. Self reliance does not mean that we do not need people or their suggestions. It definitely does not mean that we need to know the correct answers on our own, all the time. We do need our friends, our mentors and our ancient wisdom to guide us whenever we want. A self reliant person does ask for advice, does consider suggestions and does seek reassurance but ultimately relies on his/ her own judgment.
  • The cage of clinging claws : This is perhaps one of the strongest cages. We lose the sight of our wings so much that we refuse to let go. We continue to cling with firm claws to those persons who provide us comfort or support. Again, it is needless to say that we can not do without the support of others. All of us at any given point of time, need people who support us and comfort us. These people hold our hand through tough times and help us sail through rough seas. There is no denying their importance in life. The problem arises when we continue to cling to them all the time. It would be like riding a bicycle with support wheels throughout life. At some point we have to trust ourselves and remove those wheels. There is always a risk of falling but there is always the ability to get back up on our own. Self reliance does not mean that we don’t need the love and comfort of our loved ones, it just means that we can love and comfort ourselves too.
  • The cage of excessive export: Ask any economist and they will tell you what happens when you rely only on exporting things from others. For any kind of progress we need to try and fulfill our own needs. It is only when we have tried our best to meet our needs and we see ourselves falling short that we export from others. The same is the case with our emotional needs. We can’t constantly rely on others to fulfill them. We have to learn how to take care of our emotional needs on our own. We need to appreciate our efforts, love ourselves and pamper ourselves to begin with. Obviously there will be times when we will fall short. There will be instances when we will be unable to take care of our emotional needs by ourselves. At those times, it is alright to look for help from others. At such times we can export as much as we need. We just need to remember that we need to go continue our efforts too.
  • The cage of secondary defense: When a strategic defense is planned, it has two definite lines: a primary and secondary defense. The primary defense holds off the threat till the secondary defense can arrive. In a simple example, the immune system of the body fights off an infection till we can start medication. Now imagine if there was no primary defense line. Would the secondary line of defense be of any use? Would it be able to fight the threat effectively? The primary defense here is our own ability to deal with whatever is troubling us. It involves our own coping mechanisms and our own problem solving. This does not mean that we do not ask for help from the secondary line. That would be unwise. It is always smart to ask for help, whether from a friend or a professional. Though we need to keep in mind that this secondary line fights along with the first line. It strengthens the existing defense. No friend or professional can fight our battles for us without our support or without our involvement. Self reliance does not mean that there will be no one to catch us if we fall, but rather it means an attempt to brace ourselves too.

Much like the little bird, we are all born with the capability of becoming self reliant. We all have what it takes to stand up on our own and face our world. However sometimes we seem to forget our own wings. A man walking with crutches seems to believe that he has become reliant on them. He believes that it is the crutches that walk for him. He forgets that it is his own powerful arms that are making the crutches walk. Without the strength of his arms the crutches are merely pieces of wood.

When the world around us seems like a cage all we need to do is find our wings..

 

 

Dr. Gauri Nadkarni Choudhary
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