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Hyper Independence: When Too Much Independence Can Be Harmful
Mental Health

Hyper Independence: When Too Much Independence Can Be Harmful

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on January 3, 2023
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6 min

People with hyper independence consider their actions to be healthy when, in fact, it is a defense mechanism they use to avoid re-experiencing trauma. How to cope with and what are the signs of hyper independence?

Hyper independence
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In their development process, many people aspire for independence. An independent person is capable of making decisions for themselves, evaluating the impact of their actions, and looking after their well-being. However, when these behaviors are taken to the extreme, they may indicate someone with hyper independence.

A person who is hyper independent is unable to discern how their actions will impact others. They may mistake it for independence when it is not. Extreme behaviors typically have a detrimental impact on the individual who is the last to realize them.

This article is intended to teach readers about hyper independence so they could identify if they are hyper independent, and, if yes, how to cope with it.

What Is Hyper Independence?

Hyper independence is a behavior characterized by exaggerated independence and self-sufficiency. A hyper independent person takes their sense of independence to the extreme, where they refuse to ask for help or rely on others.

Hyper independent people consider themselves self-sufficient in everything. There are situations where, like any other person, they need help but refuse to seek it and actively reject it, regardless of who it comes from. They refuse assistance and prefer to handle things themselves, even when doing so could harm their health.

Hyper independent behavior is not healthy – it stems from trauma, where the person learned that self-reliance is the only way to survive.

People with hyper independence may have trouble establishing healthy and meaningful relationships. Long-term relationships are challenging as they think they may become a victim of betrayal. If they feel that the bond they have created with another person is too deep, they may become distressed and exit the relationship.

Behaviors that heavily rely on self-sufficiency and rejection of assistance are defense mechanisms. Defense mechanisms help the hyper independent person deal with situations they consider life-threatening.

Signs of Hyper Independence

People who are hyper independent show some signs that differentiate them from other types of independence.

#1 Doing everything on your own

Hyper independent people believe they can do everything by themselves. Even when counting on others is necessary, they choose to rely only on themselves. They do not trust the quality or work ethic of others and consider themselves capable enough to do everything.

#2 Having difficulty delegating tasks

Someone with hyper independence has difficulty delegating tasks as they do not trust other people. For them, it is terrifying to think of leaving a task or action in the hands of another person. When they succeed in delegating, they still check in to ensure everything is going well.

#3 Rejecting help

In general, a person with hyper independence will reject any and all help from others. Even in situations where it is very obvious that they need help, they will never admit it and will continue to do everything alone. 

Many times people close to them, such as family and friends, may worry because they do not know how they can help when, in reality, the hyper independent does not want help from anyone.

#4 Difficulty in trusting others

The hyper independent person usually does not trust others. It is possible that they have had some bad experiences in the past, and because of this, they believe that it is better not to trust anyone and avoid suffering. This lack of trust makes it difficult for them to open up to others since they are also often unemotional and distant.

Is Hyper Independence a Trauma Response?

Hyper independence is a trauma response, but it does not mean that every traumatic experience results in a person being hyper independent. Having experienced a traumatic event in the past can lead hyper independent people to avoidance as they do not want to go through similar situations again.

One of the traumatic experiences that a hyper independent person may have had is childhood trauma. They may not have had the care and attention of one or both parents during childhood, which led them to suppress emotions and become self-sufficient.

There are also situations where a person experiences great disappointment or betrayal by someone they love, such as a friend or partner. From there, the hyper independent person avoids similar behaviors out of fear of getting hurt.

The responses given to the situations mentioned above are considered trauma and are usually common signs of hyper independence.

Hyper independence is a coping mechanism. The trauma response is often unhealthy, but the person who experienced the trauma does not consider it as such. They think about how they should protect themselves so as to not experience a similar situation again.

Trauma Response

A traumatic event can leave marks on a person. Some can recover and move on, while others continue to deal with the event they have experienced. Traumatic events can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), where the person constantly relives what had happened, has unpleasant memories of the event, and fears that it will happen again.

Traumatic events such as a near-miss car accident, loss of a loved one, divorce, or losing a job are some of the situations that can trigger traumatic responses. These actions are defense mechanisms where the person employs strategies to protect themselves and not experience a similar situation.

Trauma responses occur automatically since our body has an “alarm” that is activated and prepares our body to defend itself. In this case, hyper independence is one of the coping mechanisms that a person develops in the face of certain traumatic events.

At first, defense mechanisms can seem like an appropriate way to deal with the consequences of the experienced trauma, but they are generally maladaptive behaviors: dysfunctional thoughts, emotions, and actions.

The symptomatology of post-traumatic stress is characterized by avoidance of the traumatic event experienced, sudden memories or nightmares, high stress and anxiety levels, distrust, fear, isolation, hypervigilance, emotional detachment, loneliness, and guilt. Each symptom of post-traumatic stress negatively affects a person’s quality of life.

How to Cope With Hyper Independence: 4 Actionable Tips

To deal with hyper independence, it is important to remember that this is usually a response to a traumatic event. The hyper independent person is trying to take care of themselves and avoid repeating harmful situations.

Some actions can be put into practice to manage hyper independence.

#1 Start trusting others

Hyper independent people have conflicts when trusting others, as they believe that everyone is the same when, in fact, they are not. There are people you can trust and who will be there when you need them the most. Little by little, begin to listen and allow others to be in your life.

#2 Ask for help

At first, it can be difficult to ask for help, so it will not happen immediately. You may start by asking for help with small, simple tasks that trigger less of a stress response than others. As you become better at managing your reactions, you can continue to ask for help in areas of greater difficulty.

#3 Delegate tasks

The self-sufficiency that hyper independent people possess makes them prone to stress and burnout. To prevent this, you have to learn how to delegate tasks. If you are at work, distribute the assignments and focus on doing your part instead of worrying about everyone else.

Confidence also comes in here – trust that others can deliver good results and that, at the same time, not doing everything can give you greater peace of mind and less stress.

#4 Connect with people

A hyper independent person tends to isolate themselves from others. They like to keep themselves “secret,” not wanting the rest to know about them. Although it is indeed valid to have privacy, reaching the point of not talking to anyone and avoiding forming healthy relationships can affect your emotional health.

A Word From a Psychologist

Childhood traumas are one of the reasons why a person may develop hyper independence. Theories such as the attachment theory explain what happens when there are no healthy relationships between the baby and the caregiver.

According to John Bowlby, attachment behaviors are instinctive, and their activation will depend on the dynamics between the baby and the people who care for it. The author states that people are biologically prepared to build connections with others, which helps them survive in the world.

A person who develops a healthy attachment style feels trusted, protected, and is not afraid to expose themselves to others or explore their surroundings. People who develop an avoidant attachment style are those who have difficulty relating and establishing relationships with others. People with hyper independence are the result of an avoidant attachment style.

Conclusion

Hyper independence is characterized by behaviors of extreme independence. Such a person feels that they can do everything by themselves, does not ask for help, and when someone offers it, they reject it.

People with such behaviors are avoidant and have a history of childhood trauma. They create a shield to protect themselves from going through another similar situation.

Someone with hyper independence loses significant relationships due to fear of hurt or abandonment.

To work on it, the person must begin to trust and relate to others. During this process, they will see that the people around them wish to support them instead of sabotaging them.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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