Hyper-Independence: Breaking Free from the Legacy of Loneliness

Independence is generally considered a positive characteristic. But like any personality trait, independence falls on a spectrum.

Hyper-independence: A case study

Debbie* grew up the oldest of 3 girls in a small town in rural America. By the time she was 10, Debbie’s mother had been hospitalized twice for bipolar disorder. When Debbie was 12, her mother died by suicide, leaving Debbie to care for her two sisters and her father, who struggled with alcoholism.

What is hyper-independence?

Hyper-independence is the attempt to be fully independent in all things, even when it is not helpful or rational to do so. Hyper-independent people often resist asking for help, even in extreme circumstances. They are guarded in relationships, reluctant to “let someone in” or share personal information.

Hyper-independent people have trouble asking for help, even when they desperately need it.

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Common characteristics of hyper-independent people

  • Refusing to ask for help, even when not doing so risks mental or physical health
  • Over-achieving or over-committing to things
  • Difficulty delegating
  • Guarded in relationships, few close friendships or long-term relationships
  • Secretive, private, hesitant to share personal information
  • Distrustful
  • Dislike of “neediness” or misinterpretation that having any need = neediness
  • May feel undeserving of others’ help
  • Persistent and/or exaggerated negative beliefs about oneself and the world
  • Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others
  • Avoidance of activities
  • Hyper-vigilance (always on the lookout for danger, quick to startle)
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Irritable behavior or angry outbursts

What causes hyper-independence?

People who are hyper-independent often have a history of abuse, neglect, or other trauma. Faced with an unstable and/or dangerous situation, the body’s survival instincts kick in. Being hyper-independent can feel like a way to stay safe, a metaphorical shield that protects the traumatized from further emotional or physical injury.

Hyper-independent people are more likely to come from certain cultures.

Hyper-independence fact and fiction

There are many misconceptions about hyper-independent people.

Overcoming hyper-independence

Most hyper-independent people realize at some point that their coping mechanisms for avoiding hurt and disappointment are no longer serving them. But how do you change what is often a subconscious response? Trauma activates what researchers call the “lizard brain,” the part of the brain that operates on instinct and without forethought or reflection. But there are trauma-informed therapies that can help people heal from trauma. In addition, many people find that talking through their traumatic experiences in the context of a supportive, therapeutic relationship can help them take perspective on their behavior and ultimately, change their hyper-independent habits.

  1. Identify reasons to let go of hyper-independence
  1. Challenge negative beliefs
  1. Practice asking for help
  1. Learn to be assertive
  1. Reverse roles
If you are hyper-independent, opening up to others may be scary at first, but relationships are how we heal!


Breaking your hyper-independent habits can be scary at first. It may feel safer to hide behind a shield of self-sufficiency. But hyper-independence keeps you from experiencing a lot of things that make life valuable, like long-term, mutually satisfying relationships. In addition, hyper-independent people are more prone to stress and burnout. Overcoming hyper-independence doesn’t happen overnight, but with therapeutic support and small, actionable steps, you can get rid of hyper-independent coping skills that are no longer serving you!

Frequently asked questions about hyper-independence

What are signs of hyper independence?

1. Refusing help even when it is needed.
2. Feeling like no one can understand or relate to them.
3. Feeling the need to do everything alone.
4. Struggling to ask for help or accept it when offered.
5. Feeling overwhelmed and unable to delegate tasks.
6. Rejecting advice or suggestions.
7. Feeling resentful when asked to rely on others.
8. Taking on more than can be realistically handled.
9. Being overly self-critical.
10. Feeling like it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help.

Is extreme independence a trauma response?

Yes, extreme independence can be a trauma reaction. People who have experienced traumatic events often try to take control of their lives and become independent to cope. This can manifest itself in various ways, including avoiding relationships, refusing help, and having difficulty trusting others.

What is toxic independence?

Toxic independence is an unhealthy mentality in which people feel they have to do things on their own and reject help from others. It can lead to feelings of isolation, burnout and inability to ask for help when needed.

What causes ultra independence?

A person’s upbringing typically causes ultra-independence, life experiences or psychological composition. It can be the result of feeling strong and self-reliant, or fear of relying on others or trusting them. It can also be caused by the need to assert one’s autonomy, or to avoid or deny feelings of vulnerability or need.



Directly translated wohlgefühl means pleasant feeling sense of well-being. Read about everything mental health and wellness.

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Filler bite - Wohlgefühl

Directly translated wohlgefühl means pleasant feeling sense of well-being. Read about everything mental health and wellness.