Becoming self-sufficient is best accomplished through a gradual series of steps especially for those living in a world accustomed to obtaining their services collectively and behaving by rote. By collectively I mean that services are delivered for the masses, and by rote I mean living within a mode or framework determined by others. This way of life is unavoidable in some instances but can become overwhelming at other times. But that strategy, as designed by those who implement it, is made to be insidious and as such people are not always aware they are being pushed into tighter and tighter corners. This, of course, does not have to center on monetary policies. It can also revolve around other activities in one’s life. To become self-sufficient then is to maintain and nurture self and at the same time exclude toxic behaviors, habits and beliefs. How many times, for example, do we see people who are not only over-extended financially but are also addicted to some sort of drug (alcohol, nicotine, prescription or illegal) and who indulge in risky behaviors from promiscuity to gambling to things like never exercising? Unfortunately, this is much too common in today’s world.
I talked to someone recently who is enduring nearly ceaseless anxiety. The recourse chosen is a never ending regimen of prescribed tranquilizers and anti-depressants. While this might be just the ticket for the physician doling out the dope, the patient unfortunately never gets well and life, at least from what I’ve observed, is rather pathetic. Now what does this have to do with becoming self-sufficient? First let me say that going from a state of dependence to independence and self-sufficiency is going to engender a certain amount of anxiety. But remember that the anxiety state did not evolve (it was not selected for) because it was harmful but instead because it served some sort of survival benefit to our forebearers. Anxiety, in other words, was a good thing. But overtime the conditions under which it served as something beneficial waned and, for most people these days is looked at as a decidedly negative experience. But what if we were to say: “Anxiety is good. Our inner self is telling us something; it is desperately trying to give us a message.” Seen from that perspective and our fear of anxiety might become less threatening and we can then look at it as a positive occurrence, a way of communication between our subconscious and conscience selves. When looked at in this light we can begin our journey towards becoming self-sufficient. Now the task is to figure out where that change is necessary and even more importantly how much of a change should be made.
First of all we must understand that the primary assignment towards becoming self-sufficient begins with acquiring the right attitude. Without the correct world-view we will not be able to move forward in our quest towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle. Let’s make it clear that becoming self-sufficient does not mean becoming financially advantaged nor does it mean we are adopting a minimalist lifestyle. How are those things different you might ask? First of all, a self-sufficient person defines the quality of life on strictly qualitative terms. In other words, it is not measured by the number of things we have or do not have. The person seeking financial gain is hooked into a world where things are important. Paradoxically, the minimalist lives in that very same world but at the other extreme. Both the person seeking a financial advantage and the minimalist gauge the quality of their lives in quantitative terms. They are both playing the numbers game. Self-sufficiency, on the other hand, is about inner-resource, creativity and independence. But this independence is not because we have so much money that we can buy anything we want nor is it that we have dissociated ourselves of a lot of things so that the things that we do have are few in number. The independence that the self-sufficient person possesses is centered on an inner freedom, a mindset (an attitude) where we live our lives through our own eyes and not the eyes of others. In effect, we live our lives free of the need to impress other people. And that is where we must start. That is the attitude that almost immediately squelches anxiety or at least a good deal of it. For, in fact, most of the anxieties we suffer today stem from the need to be perceived in a specific way by others. That means we are dependent on our fears of what other people think of us.
I will talk more about becoming self-sufficient in future posts. If you look back on some of my articles you’ll see that I’ve already dealt with the subject to varying degrees. But it’s time to focus more deeply into this idea. But before I end this piece let me make one more thing clear. There are other places where people talk about self-sufficiency but I have not found any, in my view, that understand or comprehend the deeper meaning of the phrase. Let it suffice for now that true self sufficiency is, beyond anything else, a state of mind. One does not become self-sufficient because (1) it frees us from “market manipulation.” While that might be an eventual outcome (to varying degrees) that is not the impetus for which we ought to choose a self-sufficient lifestyle. (2) It “builds community strength.” No, that too is not a reason. Real self-sufficiency is about an inner-awareness, an intrinsic understanding and grounding of self and not necessarily about the community at large. But please do not infer that I am suggesting a hedonistic self or a hyper-instrumental self, or most of all a sociopathic self. The ultimate idea is to live peacefully and without malice towards anyone or anything. Becoming self-sufficient is first and foremost about the inner-mind. That is where real self-sufficiency begins. And that’s where we will go in future posts as we develop the idea further.