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Methods for Decreasing Dependency: Change Your Knowledge

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Change your Knowledge. Sometimes, the reason people act dependently is that they don't trust their own decision making abilities. Various tasks may seem too specialized or technical to take on by yourself. You may not even trust your judgment when it comes to making important life decisions, but instead let other people decide for you. You can challenge this pattern of deferring making decisions by learning how good decisions are made and then using this knowledge to alter how you make decisions.

Various tasks you may need to perform may require technical knowledge in order to proceed correctly. Depending on the type of technical knowledge required and the degree of danger inherent in the task, you may be able to learn the knowledge you are missing so as to enable yourself to take that task on safely and accurately. Changing a washer on a faucet or hanging a picture or baking a cake is something you can learn to do through self study. Other sorts of tasks, like surgery or installing a new circuit breaker require highly specialized knowledge that cannot be learned through self-study. Such tasks should not be attempted except by professionals.

There are a variety of ways to learn new skills. You can read how-to books and websites. You can take a class (perhaps through an adult education program such as are frequently offered at community colleges). You can also just take a deep breath and just start taking things apart, carefully noting how they go back together, and looking for what is broken. Different methods appeal to different individuals; there is no single best method for learning

Your problem may not be a hesitancy to take on particular tasks so much as it is a hesitancy to make major life decisions on your own. You may fear that you are incompetent to make such decisions wisely, for instance. If this is the case for you, you can learn methods for making life decisions. We've been describing one such method for helping you understanding how to make self-help decisions throughout this document. We've also briefly described the Scientific Method, which is a method for learning about the nature of the universe and the things in the universe through systematic observation (rather than divine inspiration). Some people rely on teachings or dogma of their religion as a method for determining what to do next. Your choice of method should be an informed conscious choice, based on your evaluation of the pros and cons of the different alternatives, selecting the one that fits you best.

For solving more specific sorts of life problems, there are more specific types of methods:

  • Have a financial decision you need to make? Author Suze Ormond has written many sound books and articles on sound money management, as have numerous other authors.
  • Trying to decide if you have enough money to live independently and retire early? You can and should consult an accountant and financial expert, but you can also read books such as "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, which offers a different, simpler approach to early retirement.
  • Have a relationship you're not sure if you should stay in or leave? Psychotherapist Mira Kirshenbaum offers a wonderful method resolving ambivalent relationships in her book "Too Good to Leave Too Bad to Stay: a step-by-step guide to help you decide whether to stay in or get out of your relationship."

There are many other methods you can study as well. Ultimately, decision making is a process you can study and become better at. When you take time to study the process of how to make good life decisions, then you no longer have to be dependent on other people to make them for you; you can instead be dependent on your method. It is much better to be dependent on a method than on another person, because you can control how you use a method to form decisions; you cannot control another person.. So long as your method is sound, and you have followed it well, you can trust the outcome of that method.