How To Be Less Clingy: Finding Your Personal Power

Updated January 27, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When you find yourself looking only to others, and not within, to meet your emotional needs, you may find that you’ve given away your personal power and sense of control over your own life.  Perhaps you often feel like others hold the key to your safety, satisfaction, or overall happiness.

You may feel like you’ve become clingy or dependent, feeling panicked or upset when you’re away from the person you rely on. You might feel sad or conflicted because another person's mood, thoughts, or behavior affects you more than you’d like. This might make it challenging to consider your own feelings, independent of theirs. 

If you often feel like other people determine whether you feel content, happy, or safe, you don’t have to continue living this way. It can be challenging, but prioritizing your own opinion of yourself (rather than others’ opinion of you) can bring you one step closer to feeling in control and independent. 

Finding greater contentment within yourself can lead you to feel less dependent on others for your happiness. You may feel less at the whim of others, and find your relationships improve because of it.

Remember That You Know Yourself Best

No one else knows you the way you know yourself. No one else has the same time, understanding, and ability to give you what you need and want consistently. In fact, relying on someone else to fulfill your needs often leads to feelings of discontentment or disappointment. It could also put undue strain on your relationship with that person.

If you feel that perhaps you don't know yourself as well as you should, there are some things you can do to improve this situation.  Getting to know yourself may require spending some time alone with your thoughts and feelings. For some people, a counselor can also guide them to discover and recognize who they are and treat themselves with compassion and understanding. Often, this can lead them to the next step of discovering what truly makes them feel fulfilled and safe in the long run.  

If you feel like you really don’t know who you are, it’s not a reason to panic. Who we are is changing constantly, whether or not we are aware of it. A therapist might be able to help you explore the reasons you feel this way and provide tools to help you get better connected with yourself. A counselor can also help identify and challenge some beliefs you hold about yourself that might be limiting you. By helping you figure out what your values and goals are, you'll be better equipped to recognize and manage your own needs and desires.

Realize That Happiness Comes From Within

Your fulfillment and sense of peace is something you can claim for yourself, no matter how someone else treats you. This doesn’t necessarily mean that someone else can’t be a source of your happiness. Knowing that your own sense of worth and purpose comes from within gives you the power to feel whole, even when something or someone else isn’t perfect at the moment. Your significant other, your friends, and your family can enrich your life even more when you become more self-reliant and independent. 

Sometimes this concept is referred to as self-care. When you take the time to learn how to be good to yourself, you can practice self-care effectively. Self-care can also teach you how you want  to be treated by others and can therefore improve your relationships too.  

Take Chances

If you feel or have been told you’re “clingy,” it can often feel scary to take risks, big or small. You may feel unsure if they will be scary or harmful, or if the person you love and look toward will disapprove. You may find yourself sticking to a routine out of fear or uncertainty about your ability to cope with new experiences.

As a child, maybe you often hung onto your parent or were hesitant about new spaces or people. As an adult, you may still feel that impulse to run to the person who has been a comfort to you in the past. To change this behavioral pattern, consider this suggestion: When you find yourself needing or wanting comfort or reassurance from someone else, think of what you can do to provide it for yourself.  Perhaps you can fulfill your own needs and desires. 

Relying on yourself by taking action to meet your own needs can be uncomfortable if you aren't used to it or don’t like doing things alone. By encouraging yourself to explore and test your limits in safe circumstances, you can take responsibility for yourself. That sense of responsibility can return control to you and can bring great emotional rewards. You may soon find yourself feeling stronger and more capable in other areas of your life as well.

Examine Past Relationships

It is common to develop unhealthy interpersonal relationship patterns based on past relationships. Think back on those important connections in your life and the impact they had, both positive and negative. Perhaps someone sent you the message that you aren’t capable or good enough. Maybe someone in your life encouraged you to put their needs above your own. Perhaps you’re used to people telling you what to do. 

It can be helpful to examine your past’s effects on your present. Your own understanding of who you are and the choices you’ve made can serve to make you feel more in control.

Learn How To Enjoy Time Alone

It can be a lovely thing to learn how to enjoy your own company. If the thought of this makes you uncomfortable, consider that you don’t have to go out in public right away to spend time with yourself. You can read, journal, cook, or exercise, for example. Consider making a date with yourself to go to a movie, read in a park, go on a hike, shop, or do something else just for you. The more you tune into yourself, the more comfortable you will feel in your own company. The idea here is that you’ll be earning your own approval instead of someone else’s.

Speak Up

Consider that you don't have to be the one who goes along with every plan. Voicing your opinion should not upset your friends, family, or partner. If it does, mutual respect may be a deeper issue to discuss with them. It may feel like going along with other people’s opinions all the time makes you likable, but it’s important to contribute your thoughts and interests. Supportive friends, family, and partners will enjoy who you are and will welcome your voice.  

Speaking up can also look like suggesting an activity or plan with someone else instead of waiting for the other person to make a suggestion.

Affirm Yourself

You possess strengths, good qualities, and abilities. You don't have to wait for another person to tell you that. Instead, you can tell yourself this regularly.

It could be helpful to recognize the things you genuinely like about yourself, no matter how simple, and take time to appreciate them. Maybe you  have a talent or skill that you want to focus more on. In practicing this type of affirmation regularly, you may start to feel less reliant on others’ assessment of your worth.  As a result, other people’s opinions may negatively affect your emotions less and less.  

It can feel tricky when it comes to developing a true sense of self. The age of social media can make it challenging to do things just because you like them, instead of what will earn approval from others.  However,  you might find that by being more and more yourself, you draw people to you that you genuinely relate to because they connect to the real you.

Help With Learning How To Be Less “Clingy”

If you feel your sense of reliance on someone else is new, it can be helpful to find out what caused this change.  It could be that you have been in a relationship with someone who has affected your behavior, or you could have been through something else that has made it more comfortable to take your cues from others.

You may have a tough time coming to terms with what has happened and making your way back to your independent self. Long-term or even lifetime overreliance on others is not impossible to overcome, though. A professional therapist can assist you in this journey back to your full, independent self. They can help you discover the strong person you are and enable you to move more quickly towards that goal.

If you’ve been told that you’re too clingy or just feel like you’ve become overly reliant on another person, it can be difficult to discuss this situation with a stranger, especially in a clinical environment like a therapist’s office. You may be embarrassed or ashamed of these feelings, for instance. Online therapy can make it easier for you to talk about your emotions and your personal life.  Online therapy is an easy-to-use option that is available when you need it. You won’t have to wait months for your local therapist’s office to be taking new patients.

Online therapy is also an effective tool.  Studies have shown that online therapy is just as helpful for users as in-person therapy. One study looking at almost 10,000 people found that online therapy had virtually the same effect as in-person treatment.

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Takeaway

Learning to rely on yourself for emotional wellness and stability can be challenging. This is particularly true if you have a long history of dependence on others. The licensed therapists at BetterHelp are trained to help individuals regain independence and learn self-care. Begin your journey today.

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