What I Have Learned…About Self-Sufficiency

Comments (0) Boomer Life, June 2019 KW Magazine

self sufficiency

As you begin to read this article, where are you in your life? Just starting out after schooling? Are you married? Are you single? Are you independent? Are you need dependent on another?  Are you confident or are you a worrier? Do you look at each day as a horror to be encountered or as an opportunity to blossom?

For me, the glass has always been half full, and I have a grateful heart about it. That doesn’t mean the glass WAS half full though. In fact, I grew up in poverty, but it was the perfect soil to become self-sufficient as it turned out.

To become self-sufficient, you have to want to. You have to want it with a passion and with a strong will. You have to be undeterred in your quest for it.

Marcy was unemployed. She thought her best moves forward were to apply endlessly for jobs online. Although the results were largely fruitless, she persevered, but without results, she began to feel desperate. She applied for jobs she knew she’d dislike out of her desperation, but finally, she had a truth-telling session with herself and admitted that she’d rather be travelling. She knew her budget would be frighteningly minimal, and that she’d have to rely on her good sense and righteous judgment. (Now there’s an attitude that foster’s self-sufficiency!) Marcy did have a few rather lengthy crying jags along the way, but she learned. Oh how she learned!

Life’s lessons are specifically designed to help you to unfold more of yourself. I’m the eldest of five children which role literally forced me into learning things I did not want to address or do. I see my eldest grandson – also the eldest of five – following suite. He’s well along the way to unfolding full self-sufficiency. Like me, he has a high degree of willingness to help and to do. His baby sister can only be consoled by Daddy, Mommy and Big Brother. That’s a powerful role for a ten-year-old, and it’s teaching him a powerful lesson:  I CAN.

My mind craves new ideas, new learnings. I’m still considering new stuff from the imperial seat of age 77, and I find it unfathomable that anyone can say they are bored. This life experience has offered me so much: so much to learn, so much to do, so much to enjoy. If there is something you want to learn, by all means, do that. It fosters self-sufficiency, self-esteem, and self-love.

My dad was a salesman. He sold vacuum cleaners door to door in Pennsylvania, and he told the people’s old vacuums in as a trade in. They stood in a row down the left side of our garage. One day, I got the idea of earning extra money by cleaning them up, pulling all the stuff out of the brushes, and giving them a spit and polish they really needed.  Then, I called the Used Furniture Store in town and told the man I had two of them for sale. He bought them for $5.00 each! I was so proud. My dad made me give him half of the money though and I didn’t like that one bit! That whole experience taught me that I CAN.

I believe that each of us can work for whatever we want, and that a sense of entitlement – so rife in today’s environment – keeps us from unfolding self-sufficiency. I learned that the most important step you can take is the First Step. Only fear and doubt can stop that First Step, and since you are the one who’s generating the fear and doubt, only you can quell those suckers in your mind, cast them aside and take the First Step anyway. You don’t need to see beyond that First Step. You have to take it in order to see the Next Stately Step. It’s there, just waiting for you to get to a spot where you can see it. Once you begin taking those First Stately Steps, you learn to trust that the Next Step will always show up. Your wisdom is creating it, although you may not be able to see that initially. With repeated experience, you’ll see it, trust it, and love yourself even more because it’s YOU who’s generating it.

The thrill of becoming self-sufficient began during my grade school Girl Scout days. It was that “Be Prepared” motto that singed itself into my soul. I still try to look ahead to determine what’s going to be needed to move forward, and my life experiences have helped to hone those skills.

I wish I could tell you that my life had no impediments to achieving big goals with passion, but that’d be a lie. I suffered from low self-esteem based on my bodily concepts and those mistakes arose out of a misunderstanding on my part early on. I was looking through my mom’s picture album once and asked my mother as an adult why they called me Patty Fatty. She said “Because you were so cute and it rhymed.” I was a normal sized child who grew up with an “I’m fat” concept that was always in the forefront of my mind as an impediment to achieving big goals with the appropriate passion. It interfered with facing my fears and disappearing them. I didn’t want you to think unfolding self-sufficiency was all that and a bag of chips. It wasn’t. First I had to set my low self-esteem aside and move forward despite it.

I was in group therapy several times in my 20s and 30s. We used to have a social hour and dance after group and one time I was standing in the doorway assessing the scene when my therapist who was standing behind me said “Which one do you want?” It shocked me but what a perspective shifter from “Which one might want me?” I told him which one and he poked a finger in my back and said “Go tell him.” That was a life changing experience and what a self-sufficiency booster. It stuck with me the rest of my life.

Single-motherhood is probably the biggest motivator in my life. I was in my 30s when I divorced. One of my sons was 3; the other, 6 months old. The endless demands in that role forced me to look within and learn more about I CAN than anything else in my life. I could share a book full of those experiences but I’d feel that I was taking advantage of our wonderful editor!  Let’s just say that my childhood learnings like cooking, sewing, babysitting, house cleaning, gardening, picking blackberries, driving a stick, and wearing hand-me-downs all came into great use and fostered even more Next Stately Steps.

Do you think that you have a mature sense of responsibility? That unfolds self-sufficiency. Do you think that your education is adequate? That unfolds self-sufficiency. Are you in control of your health? That unfolds self-sufficiency, as does financial stability. If you have all this in place you probably already have self-sufficiency going in your life. If not, you now know what you’ll need to get it. P.S. It IS already inside you. It just needs to be nurtured and coaxed forward.

There is a Mind Set behind self-sufficiency that involves determination, practical skills, willingness and spiritual principles. It’s about becoming the right person, not finding the right person, because finding   leads to leaning. It’s also called dependence. I once envied what looked like “happily married” people. Between then and now, based on my challenging circumstances, I have a totally different sense about that.  You can still become self-sufficient within a marriage. Don’t stick with just the skills you currently have. Get out and learn some more. It makes you feel so proud.

I would love to think that some snippet in my What I’ve Learned has helped you because giving back is important to me.

Pat Matson

I’ve retired from my copywriting business. I’m still teaching metaphysics. If you would like to know what is behind the way I think, pat.matson@gmail.com is the best way to reach me. I want to make hundreds more new friends and share what I’ve learned before it’s time to go toes up. BTW, I’ve always thought living to be 126 was a great idea. I’m working on it.

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