Take the Fourth of July Challenge and declare your independence

How truly self-reliant and independent do you think you are? On this Fourth of July holiday, measure your level of independence with this helpful challenge from Dr. Mark Gouulston.

Editor’s Note:  On this Independence Day holiday, Dr. Mark Goulston wants you to take stock of your ability to be a truly independent person at work. His challenge can help you discover how your attitude affects your daily work life and your co-workers.

This is a photo of Mark Goulston, M.D.
Mark Goulston, M.D.

The Fourth of July is a great time of year to inspire yourself to become more independent just as America did back in 1776.

But before you can do that you have to ask yourself, how independent are you?

The first step is to assess whether you’re Dependent, Pseudo-independent or Independent and if so, how much you are of any of them.


fourth of july blame game photo
Playing the blame game at work is a sign that you are too dependent on others. Photo – Shutterstock
  • You behave reasonably well when you’re able to be dependent on others.
  • You’re needy.
  • You whine.
  • You complain.
  • You blame others.
  • You lean on and on top of people.
  • You try to get other people to take on your problems as their fault or responsibility to fix
  • You demand instead of asking for help because if you ask, you run the risk of people saying, “No.”
  • You become angry at others when they pull away or refuse to give you what you ask for or want.
  • You are not coachable, because it runs the risk of your having to give up your MO of being dependent.


Fourth of July Independence Challenge.
A pseudo-independent appears to be strong on the outside. Photo – Shutterstock
  • You act un-needy.
  • You’re prideful.
  • You have trouble asking for help.
  • You don’t believe anyone else will do it right and don’t want to be beholding to anyone
  • You not infrequently slip into acting like a martyr and/or self-righteous.
  • You’re a scorekeeper and on the one hand pride yourself on being a giver, but if it’s not responded to with at the very least, gratitude, you become angry.
  • You consider yourself to be a giver, but you give with strings attached.
  • You like to be needed, but become incensed and/or sullen when you feel you are being used.
  • You are manipulative in wanting to get people to either think well of you or be beholding towards you.
  • You are not coachable because you believe you’re generous and in the right and that others need the coaching.


Fourth of July Independence Challenge.
An independent person can stand out from the crowd by being a productive team player. Photo – Shutterstock
  • You’re self-reliant.
  • You’re resourceful.
  • You’re able to ask for help without demanding it.
  • You are needful, but not needy.
  • You lean into people, not on them.
  • You take full responsibility for your actions and accept the consequences of them.
  • You are mature enough to realize that until you can be effectively interdependent, you can’t be independent.
  • You’re a lifelong learner with regard to becoming more effective in work and as a person.
  • You’re a “good catch” be it as an employee, business or personal partner.
  • You’re coachable because you’re more of a “learn it all” than a “know it all.”

The more independent you and your children are, the better your life and their lives are. The less you and they are independent, the worse your life and their lives are. It also means that all parties are miserable and will make others feel that way too.

RELATED STORY: How to communicate with people who resist your advice

If you would like to be more independent as described above, show the above three categories to a person or people who believe in you, want the best for you and are willing to be candid with you. Then follow this strategy to guide your conversation.

  1. Ask them to be candid and how they would rate you with regard to the above three categories and their descriptions on a scale of 1 to 3, where 1 = rarely, 2 = sometimes, 3 = frequently
  2. Have them give you specific examples of when you have behaved in certain ways
  3. Ask them what they think the positive effect would be if you improved your “dependent” and “pseudo-independent” attributes and replaced them with “Independent” attributes
  4. Ask them what has already been the negative effect on your success, happiness and their relationship with and respect for you when you have been demonstrating the attributes under “dependent” and/or “pseudo-independent”

Have a conversation with your kids about what being independent means to them and how and why they will have a better life, the more they act that way.

Join the Conversation: How will you establish your independence? Tell us your ideas on our Facebook page.

Dr. Mark Goulston is an award-winning business psychiatrist, a consultant for Fortune 500 companies and the best-selling author of seven books. His latest, Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with Irrational and Irresponsible People in your Life can be found on Amazon. Catch up on Dr. Goulston’s previous articles here.

Connect with Dr. Goulston through FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn. His books are available on Amazon. Check out his videos on YouTube or take advantage of free resources available at