Abundant Optimism

Helping people regain and keep an optimistic outlook in challenging circumstances and improve their creativity, mind, and skills.

Learn How to Be Self-Sufficient

by Tamara Martfeld

Learning how to be self-sufficient boosts confidence and enables you to be able to respond to the normal events in your life. Being self-sufficient reduces your dependence on other people and can even save you money. I am surprised at some of the things people state they cannot do or which causes people to panic if they need to do them.

For example, I have spoken to many drivers who do not know how to change a tire. They rely on roadside assistance. Having roadside assistance is not bad. Relying on it may leave you stranded for hours. There are areas of the country which do not have cell phone coverage and a land line can be miles away. Every time I have had to call for roadside assistance in my area, the wait time was 45 minutes or more. By being able to change my own tire I am not stuck waiting – I can chose to do the job myself and get back on the road. By simply knowing how to do this simple task you are able to get yourself back on the road in any situation. You will have the choice of using roadside assistance instead of having to depend on it.

Another example is the adult who does not know how to cook. Yikes! We need food to live! I know people who eat every meal out or have a diet of convenience food for lack of this simple life skill. This is not healthy and is really bad for the budget. If this description fits you I highly recommend purchasing a beginner’s cook book. These books are designed to help a child learn to cook. Learn the basics and then start experimenting. Depending on how you obtain meals now, you can eliminate 75% or more of your food costs. If you have children, teach them to cook as soon as they show an interest. Even a small child can tear apart lettuce for a salad. My parents found that as teenagers my siblings and I would talk in the kitchen and nowhere else. This may be a means of establishing communication with your children!

A third example is the individual who knows how to cook but panics over a big meal. Why panic? A turkey is just a really big chicken. Side dishes just need to be made in a little bigger quantity. With a little planning it is really a simple job. By planning instead of panicking and taking things step-by-step, a simple meal which is big is really not a big deal. If you need practice in preparing things in larger quantities, every now and then take a dish and cook it in a large portion and then freeze what is not immediately needed in portion sizes. This will give you practice as well as give you some easy meals or side dishes for a while.

Other examples include simple plumbing, electrical, and other maintenance of the home. There are some situations in which it might be better to call a professional, but doing the simple things such as changing a light switch, a toilet flapper, or using a snake in a drain can save you money and give you a sense of accomplishment. Even something as simple as being able to shut off water, electricity, and gas can help you save money. Yes, I know people who do not know how to do this in their home.

I am not stating that professionals should never be used. I am stating that being self sufficient can save you money and reduce your dependence on other people. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment with all the good feelings associated with the accomplishment. I remember bragging when I changed my first light switch and being ecstatic when I was able to change two switches accommodating one light (one light controlled by two switches at opposite ends of a hall) and make it work properly. For the best benefit, keep learning how to be more self-sufficient. Once you know how to do something and have done it several times, the sense of accomplishment tends to be reduced. There are always new skills to learn.

For example, learning how to cook is great. However, once you learn and have done it for several months you may lose the “I did it!” feelings. When you reach this stage you might try a new dish with a technique new to you, a new spice in a familiar dish, or even creating your own recipe.

If you have mastered the simple plumbing fixes, you might want to tackle the next bigger job using a “how to” book.

As you learn be careful that you do not take on more than your skills can fix. In the cooking example you may just have to toss some food which has become inedible. However, in the plumbing example you may cause several thousand dollars in damage if you do something incorrectly. Get the professional training required to master the skills required and decide when you draw the line on your skills and hire a professional. You do not have to be proficient at every skill, but you want enough knowledge to do the simple tasks and know when the “professional” is recommending a fix which is not needed.

Being self-sufficient raises your confidence level, provides a sense of accomplishment when the skills are used, and enables you to be more optimistic about your ability to handle the events which come your way.