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The Self-Sufficiency Syndrome
by Peggy Collins

Self-Sufficiency Syndrome is an epidemic. It has never been identified before but I’ll bet it’s something you too are familiar with. Characterized by the inability to ask for help or delegate because no one can do it as well as you can, this extreme behavior builds stress and imbalance as you do everything all by yourself. It’s self-defeating to say the least!

Please don’t think I’m criticizing self-sufficiency; it’s what made this country great. But there’s also a cultural value that says “asking for help is a weaknessapostrophe and I’ll bet there’s a good chance you cut your teeth on those words.

Your parents subscribed because they wanted you to be responsible and able to stand alone. You took them at their words: “ If you want it done right, do it yourself.apostrophe Before you knew it, you had created a weakness out of a strength and didn’t even realize it.

Or perhaps, like me, you grew up in a home where there was little to trust. Fear drove you to a safe haven where you didn’t need to depend on anyone else. You chose a defense that was respected and honored in our society – being too self-sufficient. And in the doing, you took on a new identity that felt safe.

Now you look like you have it all together, like you don’t need anything or anybody. There is a tremendous pride about that - that’s very hard to shake, if you even know you need to.

Fast forward to your hamster cage life style. Do you get up every morning, wondering how you’re going to get through your day - because you have so much to do? Technology has added so many new layers to our lives and shows no promise of slowing down. We humans have speeded up to try to keep the pace.

It’s inevitable that the anxiety and stress created start to have symptoms. Unable to sleep, lack of concentration, feeling overwhelmed and yes, even panic attacks and depression. Let’s just think of this as your Wake-Up Call.

After all, we women are social beings; we were never meant to isolate ourselves by building an invisible wall of self-sufficiency. The contest isn’t who can do the most all by themselves. It’s about who we are – who we share that with – and the connection that’s made as a result.

When you have the “A-HA MOMENTapostrophe that you’ve been living a fear-based life, you can begin to look under the rubble for the authentic you – the “youapostrophe that you were meant to be. Camouflaged, it’s true, but intact, make no mistake.

This is a one-day-at-a-time thing. It’s been years in the making and to contemplate tearing it all down in a week would be unrealistic. But each day can be a new start toward living your own destiny – your own adventure. Start by aligning yourself by embracing your own values, beliefs and needs, not someone else’s. Give up behaviors that are fear-driven and adopt those that are collaborative and nurturing. Bite your tongue when the need to control everyone around you is a Red Flag for a fear you’re experiencing. Recognize it for what it is and grow closer to that authentic self you seek.

Over time, the need to take on more and more will dissipate as you grow more comfortable in your own skin. And after a time, there will be a freedom, that stretch- your- arms- high-freedom, that comes from these simple words “I need your help.apostrophe

About the author:

Peggy Collins is a speaker, trainer, author of Help Is Not a Four-Letter Word She can be reached at