How to Stop Relying on Others for Happiness

How to Stop Relying on Others for Happiness (You Can!)

If you’ve been trying to find happiness and haven’t succeeded, stop and ask yourself this question: are you relying on someone else to bring you happiness?

This someone could be an intimate partner or a close family member. Does it feel as though your happiness depends on them in some way?

This can be hard to admit. But if the answer is yes, this has to change. You will only be truly happy when you live for yourself and find what makes you happy. 

Learning how to stop relying on others for happiness (you can!) is the first step in discovering your authentic self.

Cultivating Happiness Within Yourself

Human beings are inherently social creatures. We thrive on connection, love, and support from others. 

However, while relationships are an important part of a fulfilling life, you shouldn’t rely on others for your happiness. It is your responsibility, and yours alone, to address your own emotional needs and find your own joy.

Relying on others for happiness cheats you out of true contentment. 

You will not focus on your own needs, hopes, dreams, ambitions, and goals, which can lead to diminished self-confidence and low self-esteem later on. 

Additionally, you put undue pressure on others when you rely on them for happiness, which can strain your relationships.

woman sitting cross legged with her eyes closed on a yoga mat

Always remember: your happiness starts with you.

The Harm of Emotional Dependence

Emotional dependence will delay you on your journey of personal growth. It often masks the actual problem: fear and self-doubt that prevent you from going after your own emotional needs. 

Living your life in a certain way only to please another person or meet their perceived expectations can be harmful to your mental health and emotional health. It will take a toll on your self-esteem and can lead to resentment.

You cannot be emotionally dependent and truly happy at the same time. It is one or the other. To be happy, you must take responsibility for your own happiness and stop relying on others to provide it for you.

Being Happy for Others

It’s important to be genuinely happy for your loved ones when they achieve their goals and celebrate their successes. Sharing their joy is a great way to show your support and strengthen your bond.

However, it’s crucial to remember that your happiness should not depend on others’ achievements. Celebrate others’ successes, but focus on yourself, your goals, and your accomplishments. Your personal growth and fulfillment should be a priority.

Sometimes, it may be challenging to wholeheartedly celebrate others’ achievements, especially if their success makes you feel insecure or left behind. If you find yourself feeling jealous or resentful, it could be a sign that you’re relying too heavily on others for your own happiness.

In such situations, take a step back and refocus on your own journey. Concentrate on your personal goals, aspirations, and the progress you’ve made. Recognize that everyone’s path is unique, and their success does not diminish your worth or potential.

If you struggle with being genuinely happy for others, consider exploring resources to cultivate a supportive and empathetic mindset, such as this article on how to be happy for others. Celebrating others’ successes without compromising your own well-being is a valuable skill that can enhance your relationships and overall happiness.

Dependent Personality Disorder

In extreme cases, people may be diagnosed with Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD). 

DPD is characterized by an extreme need for help from others, difficulty making decisions independently, clinginess, and a tendency to stay in unhealthy relationships while avoiding independent social interactions. People with DPD are also more prone to experiencing depression and anxiety.

Psychotherapy can greatly benefit those suffering from DPD, helping them understand unhealthy relationship dynamics and build healthier, more independent lives. 

If you suspect you may have DPD, know that it is treatable. Seek help from a qualified therapist.

woman with her hands on her temples while speaking to her therapist

How to Stop Relying on Others for Happiness

The reasons why you should stop relying on others for happiness are clear. 

However, it can be a very difficult pattern of behavior to break. Here are seven tips to help you start on a path of self-reliance and inner joy.

1. Learn to Differentiate Between Emotional Dependence and Emotional Support

Everyone becomes a bit emotionally needy at times, especially during difficult periods. However, there is a significant difference between being emotionally dependent on others and simply needing emotional support.

Being emotionally dependent on others means you rely on them for happiness. You expect them to make you feel better when you’re feeling down, and you may even get upset with them if they can’t always put a smile on your face. 

On the other hand, needing emotional support means simply appreciating having someone to talk to during tough times. You may lean on them for a shoulder to cry on, but you don’t expect them to boost your mood constantly.

two women sitting and talking at the edge of a lake

If you find yourself getting upset with friends or loved ones because they can’t make you happy, it’s a sign that you’re too emotionally dependent on them. You will need to work on this. 

Developing emotional independence takes courage and mental resilience, but it’s possible.

Start by exploring your own feelings. When you’re feeling down, ask yourself what is really bothering you. Don’t expect others to know what’s wrong; they’re not mind readers. Once you can identify your own emotions, controlling them will be easier. 

Next, work on building up your self-confidence. If you need help getting started, try some affirmations for confidence. When you feel good about yourself, you won’t need others to validate you.

Finally, don’t be afraid to spend time alone. This can be difficult if you’re used to being around others all the time, but it’s essential to learn how to be comfortable in your own company. This doesn’t mean that you have to be alone all the time, but it does mean that you should be able to be content when you’re alone.

2. Take Charge of Your Own Life and Embrace Change

Emotional self-reliance skills may not come easily, but you can develop them. However, you have to want it. You have to do this for yourself when you are ready. There is no timeline for this sort of thing.

When you are ready to break the bonds of emotional dependence and stop relying on others for happiness, don’t second-guess yourself. You have decided to be emotionally self-reliant, and you will never need to look back. Change is always a bit scary, but don’t let fear continue to hold you back.

Take your time, though—you should do this at your own pace. It may have taken years to get yourself into a situation of emotional dependence on others, and it can take time to get out of it. 

Be realistic about what you want to achieve and the time it will take. You may find it easier to use a journal, diary, or accountability calendar to get your life on track. There are endless resources available to guide you on your journey to self-fulfillment.

Trust in your own abilities and have faith that you will find your way. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. You deserve to be happy, and only you can make that happen.

smiling man in sunglasses with his hands behind his head

3. Cultivate Supportive Relationships

One of the most important things you can do for your happiness is to cut toxic people out of your life. Toxic people are those who regularly make you feel bad about yourself, always put you down, or are generally negative. If you reflect on the people in your life, you will likely be able to identify at least a few toxic individuals.

It’s not always easy to just up and leave toxic relationships, though. If you’re in a situation where you can’t just walk away, then try to find ways to limit your exposure to that person. If they’re a co-worker, try to avoid them as much as possible. If they’re a family member, set boundaries and don’t allow them to mistreat you.

It’s also essential to ensure you have supportive people in your life. These are the people who make you feel good about yourself, who will lift you up when you’re down, and who will encourage you to pursue your dreams. 

Having at least a few people like this in your life is essential. If you don’t, then make it a priority to find some. If you do, make sure to cultivate your relationships with them. Just like they’re there for you, make sure you’re there for them too.

You may become a bit dependent on them for your happiness, but that’s okay if you’re also working on finding ways to be happy without them. A genuinely supportive person will want you to be happy and independent, not dependent on them.

4. Discover Your Own Happiness

Find out what makes you happy

Spoiler alert: it may not be the same thing that makes your life partner happy. 

It’s not necessarily the same as what makes your friends happy either because everyone is unique. We all have different emotional needs and different dreams for our futures. Our lives are shaped by the experiences and influences we have been exposed to throughout childhood and adulthood.

What matters most to you? Take your time, and be completely honest when answering this question. Your initial response may be one that you have learned, one that reflects your partner’s, parents’, or other person’s expectations of you.

Man sitting at a table working on his laptop

Forget what they want for you and think only about what would make you happy. If you’re not sure, ask yourself what you would do if you had a million dollars and no one to answer to. Let your imagination run wild here.

Some people would travel the world. Others would start their own businesses. Some would donate to charities and help those in need. Others would buy and fill a big house with all their favorite things. 

Think about the why behind your dreams. What is it that appeals to you about those things? Is it the freedom that comes with travel? The independence of owning your own business? The satisfaction of helping others? 

Whatever your own personal reasons are, write them down. This will be your starting point for finding your own happiness.

5. Find Your True Purpose

What is your why? What is your purpose? 

Spend time thinking about your answer to that question. We all have a deeper sense of purpose, an idea that gives meaning to our lives. People who have purpose-led lives are happy and content in any situation.

When you lead a purposeful life, you will be confident in your own skin. Your self-esteem will soar, and you will feel empowered to stop relying on others for happiness. Everyone wants this for their life, but so few achieve it because they deny their purpose. Permit yourself to discover yours.

To find your true purpose, identify your core values – the principles that guide your decisions and shape your priorities. Consider what matters most to you: family, creativity, service, learning, personal growth, etc. Reflect on the moments when you’ve felt most fulfilled and alive. What were you doing? Who were you with? What made those experiences so meaningful?

Next, consider how to align your life with your values and passions. What kind of work would allow you to express your authentic self and make a positive impact? What hobbies or volunteer activities could you pursue that would bring you joy and a sense of contribution? Brainstorm ideas and start taking small steps towards exploring different possibilities.

Your purpose may shift and evolve as you grow and change. Stay open to new experiences, listen to your intuition, and don’t be afraid to take risks. When you live with intention and meaning, you’ll naturally become less reliant on others for your happiness and more fulfilled from within.

6. Live in the Moment

One of the best ways to become emotionally self-reliant is to develop a practice of mindfulness. This means being present in the moment and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions without judging them. Simply observe them and let them go. This will help you become more aware of your inner emotional landscape and better able to deal with it.

Keeping a daily journal is a helpful way to develop emotional self-reliance and live in the moment. Use your journal to vent all of your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Write about whatever comes to mind, and don’t hold back. This is for you, and no one else needs to see it. Journaling can be an incredibly therapeutic way to work through all your emotions.

woman reading her journal while drinking tea

Incorporating solo activities into your daily or weekly routine can complement your mindfulness practice. Exploring things to do by yourself allows you to navigate your interests at your own pace. These moments by yourself can reinforce your sense of presence, grounding you firmly in the here and now.

You can also practice mindfulness informally by bringing awareness to your everyday activities, such as eating, walking in nature, or engaging in a hobby. Use your senses to fully immerse yourself in the experience. Notice the colors, textures, smells, sounds, and flavors. When you catch your mind drifting to the past or future, anchor yourself back in the present moment.

Another way to embrace the power of now is to minimize multitasking. When you scatter your attention across multiple tasks, you miss out on the richness of fully engaging with one thing at a time. Make an effort to unitask more often, giving your complete focus to whatever you’re doing, whether it’s working, conversing with a friend, or savoring a meal. You’ll feel more grounded, effective, and connected to your own life.

7. Choose Happiness Daily

Remember that being happy is a choice you can make every day.

Start by smiling more and appreciating the good things in your life. Be grateful for what you have and focus on the positive. Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Self-care means putting yourself first. Exercise and eat healthily to boost your mood. Get enough sleep and spend time outdoors in nature.

You don’t need anyone else to make you happy – you can do it yourself.

content woman smiling

Final Thoughts

Relying on others for your happiness is never a good idea. When you tie your hopes to another person’s actions, you only do yourself a disservice. 

We are all individuals and need different things out of life. 

What makes you happy will not necessarily be the same as anyone else, even your closest family members and friends. Honor your dreams and become your own source of built-in happiness because only you know what you need to be happy and at peace.  


If you want to promote more happiness in your life, check out the a little dose of happy blog.

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