Welcome back to another episode of Live Your Freedom Now!
Well, almost. First, you get to read this fun little summary from me, and then you’ll be on your way to this week’s latest musings. This week, I am excited to explore another Dominant Dogma narrative that has impacted our freedom and perception of the world: toxic self-reliance. This one may be an interesting one to untangle for some of us, as we find the nuanced line between self-responsibility and self-reliance. What I hope you can find — or begin to traverse — is the beautiful space of both self-sovereignty, and community connection.
Instead of “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps,” I implore you to try asking for help, learning from others, and creating meaningful and reasonable boundaries so you can live your best life. But I know there’s a lot to unpack before we get there! Let’s start with a few minutes of listening and learning this week.
In this episode, we talk about:
- The freedom we can find in interdependence
- The relationship between “hustle” cultures and privilege
- Losing our innate need for connection, and how we can reclaim and reshape what that looks like now
- Giving ourselves permission to ask for help, seek resources, and be taught in a new way
- Some journal prompts to help you engage with this topic a bit more
Listen to the episode wherever you like to listen to your podcasts
Hello hello, creative humans, before we dive in I am so excited to share that my Creative Business Accelerator is open for enrollment through May 31st! This space is for you if you are ready to hand back the “shoulds” and the “musts” that have seized control of your business to reclaim your vision and run your business on your terms. You started your business to thrive, to experience more fulfillment, and to live free. I’m here to help you do that. Head to megscolleen.com to learn more and reserve your spot today! Please note that I accept a maximum of 9 individuals per intake, and spaces are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out.
Today I am writing from my bedroom. After a rough night’s sleep and what seems to be a flare-up of issues due to my journey with gut dysbiosis, I’m feeling quite tender today, and writing from my bedroom seems the kindest thing to do. Over the weekend I patched up the cream-colored Anthropology Quilt that is spread across my bed, and I added in a new fluffy throw blanket so even with my health feeling a bit ho-hum today, my space feels refreshed. Additionally, my pup is always close by, currently curled up in the corner, and I have a giant hot mug of fresh lemon ginger water on my nightstand.
As we enter into this space, this conversation together, I invite you to take a moment and attune to your surroundings. No matter what is going on around you, or within you, simply pause. Notice what is around you that is stable. The chair or floor beneath you. The textures touching your skin. Where there is light. Where there are shadows. Not judging anything, just simply noticing.
Today, our focus is discussing the Dominant Dogma, “Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps” or, more simply put, the Dominant Dogma of Toxic Self Reliance.
Last week we talked about the internalized Dominant Dogma that says “They Have It Better Than Me” and the freedom on the other side: Self-Responsibility. Today, we’re balancing out that conversation with the freedom of interdependence.
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“Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps” is most commonly understood as meaning, “to improve your situation by your own unaided efforts.” – source
It’s a concept that could direct one to a healthy consideration of self-responsibility. Working hard to thrive in business and in life no matter what is given or not given from others. However, largely due to the hyper-independence and masculinity of western culture, many have embraced the ideal dogmatically finding themselves husting for wholeness and feeling less than human when unable to keep up. In my research of this topic, I was grateful to find that many are debunking the statement’s essence of Toxic Independence and Toxic Self-Reliance. But, the message pervades in different forms such as Hustle culture, girl boss culture, and start-up culture. Each of these “cultures” could be considered Dominant Dogma’s of their own, but ultimately they all fall under this overarching Dominant Dogma and theme of Self-Reliance.
This Dominant Dogma often sounds like:
- Work hard for your dreams. No one else will.
- Hustle your way to the top.
- Bootstrap your own success.
- You get what you work for.
- Be the hardest working person you know.
- Don’t wish for it, work for it.
Why are mantras and ideals like this so toxic? This quote from David E. Lewis, a Contributing Opinion Writer for the Harvard Crimson, summarizes it well, “It [toxic self-relience] creates a culture that relies on a fixed privileged view that assumes all people should be like the (white, cisgender, straight, able-bodied, male) default who are (supposedly) entirely self-reliant.” – source
When you embrace a mindset of toxic self-reliance, you are falling prey to a narrative you were never meant to fit within. A narrative that is, in essence, violent towards women, minorities, and the most vulnerable in society. Additionally, this narrative of toxic self-reliance requires that you forget your innate connectedness. That you place yourself on an isolated pedestal forgetting the earth which nourishes you, your ancestors who came before you, your teachers and mentors who have poured into you, and your family (chosen or biological) who surround you.
Ultimately, the Dominant Dogma of “Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps” strips you of your congruent, nuanced, whole, and natural self.
The Freedom on The Other Side: Interdependence
“Interdependence suggests that partners recognize and value the importance of the emotional bond they share while maintaining a solid sense of self within the relationship dynamic.” – Jodi Clark source
It’s ok to be supported. It’s ok to be nourished. It’s ok to be taught. It’s ok to ask for help.
When living from the Dominant Dogma of Toxic Self-Reliance, it can feel wrong or bad to ask for help, to recognize our wise teachers, to remember our innate interdependence and connection. But the freedom on the other side (the freedom now!) is: you are not meant to go this alone and you are not alone. You are supported by the earth. You are part of a lineage of ancestors. You are poured into by mentors and teachers (whether directly or indirectly). Now, it is your job to accept the supportive connections already surrounding you, attune to them, and communicate your needs. Explore the freedom of teaching your support system how they can best relate with you and cultivate delicious reciprocal relationships built on interdependence.
This is living your freedom now.
To help further explore and integrate today’s Freedom I have a few journal prompts:
- Where in your life are you trying to, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps?”
- Has this mindset been supportive for you?
- How has this mindset caused you, or those around you, harm?
- Where, in your life and your business, do you need help?
- Who can you ask for help?
And that is what I want to leave you with today. If you want to explore this further, I highly recommend visiting my website megscolleen.com for the full episode notes. I have included a few extra links where you can dive deeper, review the articles I have cited, and discover what today’s Freedom holds for you and your journey.
As a reminder, from April 1st through May 31st my Creative Business Accelerator is open for enrollment! This space is for you if you are ready to hand back the “shoulds” and the “musts” that have seized control of your business to reclaim your vision and run your business on your terms. You started your business to thrive, to experience more fulfillment, and to live free. I’m here to help you do that. Head to megscolleen.com to learn more and reserve your spot today! Please note that I accept a maximum of 9 individuals per intake, and spaces are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out.
All right, I’ll see you next week!
Freedom is yours,
“When you embrace a mindset of toxic self-reliance, you are falling prey to a narrative you were never meant to fit within.”
“Ultimately, the Dominant Dogma of “Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps” strips you of your congruent, nuanced, whole, and natural self.”
“It is your job to accept the supportive connections already surrounding you, attune to them, and communicate your needs.”
“It’s OK to be supported. It’s OK to be nourished. It’s OK to be taught. It’s OK to ask for help.”
Mentions & More:
- Enroll in my 6-month creative business accelerator program: “On My Terms”
- David E. Lewis’s Op-Ed for the Harvard Crimson
- More about the “by one’s own bootstraps” idiom
- The Uplifiting Words Podcast: Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps
- The Boostraps Podcast, which aims to move past this old narrative
- More brilliance from Jodi Clarke about interdependence
- Lots more information about interdependence and the importance it plays in our relationships