How To Be Strong And Be Independent When Everyone Is Against You | Dr. Isaiah Hankel How To Be Strong And Be Independent When Everyone Is Against You | Dr. Isaiah Hankel

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How To Be Strong And Be Independent When Everyone Is Against You

how to be strong and independent | Dr. Isaiah Hankel | go with your gut

“I never think about the play or visualize anything. I do what comes to me at that moment. Instinct. It has always been that way.”

Lionel Messi (Soccer legend)

“I choose totally by instinct. And the only time I’ve ever gone against instincts, I’ve regretted it.”

Julia Roberts (Oscar-winning actress)

“If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

Charles-Guillaume Étienne (French dramatist) 


He was the last male survivor of his family.

But he didn’t look like a survivor.

Instead, he walked with a limp.

He was also hard of hearing and could hardly make it through a sentence without stuttering.

His job?

Court jester.

Seriously, that was his job.

His nephew, the Roman Emperor, kept him around just to make fun of him and his stutter.

Claudius, the court jester.

That could have been the end of his story.

But then Roman officials staged their coup and killed everyone but Claudius.

Now Claudius was the only one left with noble ties who could run the Roman Empire.

He went from court jester to Emperor overnight.

How would he handle it?

Never before had Claudius been anything but a clown to others.

He was a running joke.

Scratch that—a limping joke.

No one ever thought Claudius would amount to anything.

Even his family, when they were alive, never took him seriously.

Claudius had almost no political experience.

Now, an entire empire awaited his command.

He’d have to do better than his nephew.

Success was a matter of life and death.

Literally, the Roman army threatened to kill him if he screwed up.

No pressure.

The result?

Emperor Claudius crushed it.

He used the pressure, fought through his speech impediment, and took full command of his life, the senate, and the Roman Empire.

He went on to conquer Britain and expanded the Empire in a way that hadn’t been seen since the reign of Augustus many years before.

There was a time when Claudius was considered weak because of his physical shortcomings.

Not anymore.

Despite the doubts others tried to infect him with, the complete lack of support he suffered his entire life, and the embarrassment he faced every day, Claudius believed in himself.

Claudius turned inward and found something strong in himself.

Claudius knew in his gut that he was meant to rule.

To this day, he’s considered to be one of the greatest men to ever rule Rome.

Claudius ignored his detractors and forgot about his history of mockery.

Claudius relied on himself.

He trusted his own judgment.

He went with his gut.

Why You Should Trust Your Instincts

Leverage your instincts about yourself, don’t run from them.

Most people are afraid of their instincts.

These people think that going with your gut means blindly having faith or blindly following their feelings or intuition.

The truth is, your instincts are powerful.

Your gut can be all-knowing.

In fact, your gut has more neurons than the brain of a cat.

True story.

In an article in the Journal of Laryngology and Otology, researchers examined doctors’ ability to detect cancer in a patient simply by their gut feeling, enhanced by years of experience in the field.

Though it’s impossible to quantify a “gut feeling,” the researchers found that these doctors were right when they went with their instincts.

The key is that the doctors were using their instincts in a field they had extensive knowledge in.

Instincts rely on a framework of knowledge.

If you have a lot of knowledge in a certain area of your life, start trusting your instincts more.

On the other hand, if you have little or no knowledge in an area, don’t use having a “gut feeling” as a crutch or a cop-out to do whatever you think or feel is best.

The one area where you should always trust your instincts is yourself.

You know what’s best for you more than anyone else.

You know, in your gut, what action you should take.

So stop fighting it.

Stop fighting who you are and what you really want.

Instead, start developing your instincts.

Your instincts about yourself can be trained and honed.

The doctor who feels when a patient is in danger.

The hunter who can sense when the target is near.

The detective who knows when something should be investigated further.

These people trust their instincts in a particular area of their lives because they’ve built up a framework of knowledge in this area.

You’ve spent years building up a framework of knowledge of who you are, what you want, and how you want to live.

Leverage this knowledge by listening to your gut.

trust in your instincts | Dr. Isaiah Hankel | follow your intuition

5 Strategies For Being More Self-Reliant

Other people’s opinions are cheap.

Asking someone else what you should do with your life won’t cost you much.

Everyone around you will happily tell you their opinions on how you should live.

“Don’t be so selfish.”

“Give more to others.”

“Put other people first.”

People are happy to spew this kind of generalized nonsense at you all day long.

But all the opinions in the world can’t override that persistent tug inside of you.

Your inner voice, your instincts, your gut—it knows what’s best for you.

You know what’s best for you.

The problem is that you’ve been taught to ask for other people’s advice your entire life.

You’ve been taught to value other people’s gut reactions over your own instincts.

It’s time to start listening to yourself again.

It’s time to start relying on yourself.

When you trust your instincts about yourself, you come out on top.

When you bet on yourself, you win.


Here are 5 strategies on how to be strong and more self-reliant…

1. Ignore compliments but seek criticism.

Growth is a prime human need.

If you’re healthy, you’ll always want to improve at something in your life.

Your instincts should always tell you that there’s more to learn.

That you could be doing an even better job.

This is why it’s important to surround yourself with the right kind of people.

Getting feedback from others is critical to growing quickly.

But it has to be the right kind of feedback.

Unsolicited opinions and compliments are useless.

Constructive criticism, on the other hand, is invaluable.

The more painful, the better.

The question is: can you handle the criticism?

Can you love the criticism so much that you ask for it?

Can you differentiate constructive criticism from useless compliments and ignore the latter?

Look—even your most successful idol can blow you off just by giving you worthless feedback like “good job.”

Compliments like “good job” come from two different types of people.

Those who feel threatened by what you’re doing and want to hold you down, and those who haven’t got a clue of what you’re doing and wouldn’t recognize if you did a good job or not.

Either way, these kinds of compliments are meant to placate you.

At no point is your work done so well that you can’t do better.

There is always room for improvement.

You always need to improve.

You need real criticism.

When someone provides you with constructive criticism, even if it’s scathing, they’re providing you with an opportunity to grow.

The right kind of criticism will snap you to attention and help you grow.

The wrong kind will drag you down and demotivate you.

It’s up to you to be able to tell the difference.

It’s up to you to know who is really for you and who is against you.

If you want to improve rapidly in life, start seeking constructive criticism and shying away from empty compliments. 

2. Fight against popular opinions.

Your instinct is an incredible ability.

It’s inherent to you.

It’s a big reason why you’ve made it this far in life.

It’s one of your best resources for thriving as a human being.

But you’ve been trained to ignore it.

You’ve been trained to obey society’s herd mentality and go along with what everyone else says is best for you.

Popular opinions are usually wrong.

You’ll never be successful in life by following a consensus blueprint for what you should do.

Go to college, graduate, get married, have 2.5 kids, work a mediocre job with a mediocre wage.

Be safe.

Be boring.

Stay average.

Tiptoe to the grave.

If you listen to popular opinions like these, you deserve to be a nobody in life.

You deserve to be dependent on other people for happiness and success.

You don’t need popular opinion to tell you what to do with your life, how to live it, or how to solve your problems.

You know what you were meant to do with your life better than anyone else.

Trust yourself.

Bet on yourself.

It’s not a popular opinion to take bold, risky steps towards improving your life.

It’s not a popular opinion to eliminate the manipulative and toxic people from your life.

Do it anyway.

If you want to meet your goals, follow your gut and your rational mind, not society’s half-baked ideas about what’s best for you.

3. Use unfamiliar situations as challenges.

Training your instinct is like training your body.

Your mind is a muscle and it gets weak without use.

If you want to become more mentally tough and independent in life, you need to start deliberately putting yourself in uncomfortable situations.

You need to start putting yourself in adventurous situations.

Stop being afraid of conflict.

Stop shying away from failure.

Instead, look for opportunities to fail and fail big.

The bigger the opportunity to fail, the bigger the opportunity to succeed.

The bigger the opportunity to win big and shock the world.

When was the last time you shocked anyone?

When was the last time you made a decision that made both you and others uncomfortable?

Was it months ago?

Years ago?

It’s time to start shaking things up again.

You only have one life—one chance—to rattle the cage and make something big happen for yourself.

Quit wasting it.

Get comfortable with uncertainty.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Don’t settle for unhappiness for another 10 years, 20 months, or even another 10 days.

Choose uncertainty over unhappiness.

Uncertainty leads to growth, but unhappiness leads to nothing but misery.

4. Never act as a crutch for someone else.

Your instinct is very valuable.

This is especially true when it comes to determining who is for you and who is against you.

Too many people let negative friends and negative family members stay in their lives for years even though their guts tell them to cut the cord.

These people reject their instincts.

They reject their rational reasons.

Instead, they give in to guilt.

They feel bad for someone and instead of truly helping them by walking away, they give them handouts and act as a crutch.

They empower their negative behavior.

They support their malfunction.

When you allow someone to be dependent on you, you weaken them.

You also weaken yourself.

Dependency breeds dependence.

When you allow dependence in your life, one way or another, you become more dependent.

Quit giving other people a free pass to be negative or to play the victim.

Quit giving other people handouts just because it’s easier than saying “no.”

Show some fortitude.

Show some tough love.

Start encouraging others to stand on their own, not rely on you for help. 

This will make both you and them more self-reliant and successful in life.

5. Celebrate your victories but don’t dwell on them.

Your life is meant to be challenging.

Like a battle.

When you challenge yourself, even if you fall short of your goals, you don’t really fail.

You don’t really fail because you’ve forced your brain to adapt to something new.

But what happens when you win?

What happens when you overcome the obstacles in front of you and do what you set out to do, conquering a goal others told you was unrealistic?

Do you just move on to the next goal?

Do you absorb yourself in the praise others give you?

No, you internalize your own victory.

You validate yourself.

You celebrate within.

Appreciate what you’ve been able to do on your own.

Accept those who celebrate you too.

But don’t dwell on external praise.

When you allow others to validate you, you become complacent.

You forget what you really want out of life.

You forget the importance of depending on your own validation.

You dull your instincts and lose sight of the big picture.

Instead of letting your victory define you, leverage it to your advantage.

Use it as an example of how you can achieve even bigger goals.

Let your victories compound and they’ll push you forward.

Let victory become instinctual.

Keep honing and training your instincts by submerging yourself in the unknown. Look at the world from different perspectives and get out of your comfort zone. The more your instinct improves, the more you’ll be able to trust it. The more you develop and trust your instincts, the more you’ll be able to accomplish in life. The world will become less intimidating because you’ll know how to cope with the challenges you face and work things out on your own. Do this and you’ll live a more confident and focused life. Until next time, live like a lion.

To learn more about how to be strong and independent, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the Escape Plan wait list.


You Comment, Isaiah Responds

  • Charisse Cappello

    That story about Claudius was flabbergasting. I was really shocked, and it’s hard to imagine such a huge life-changing event that thrust you right into the thick of sink-or-swim in such a dramatic way. But I also realize that we’ve all experienced life-changing events. How do we handle it?

    For me and most of my friends, we’d probably just try to do whatever would be considered normal and reasonable. And there are times when I accidentally did something heroic without realizing it, and it worked out well because I was just following my instinct. Other times, I tried to do what was “reasonable” and went against my instinct so people didn’t think I was selfish. And those times turned into utter disasters.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Thanks for sharing your experiences here, Charisse. Your “inner voice” is powerful.

  • Theo

    It’s really humbling to see what that amazing man did with his physical handicaps and with his difficult past. It sure makes it hard to make excuses for oneself in this particular day and age! We all have our troubles, but if this guy rose to the occasion, then we should be able to do it with zero trouble!

    When I hear people complain that their computer is too slow, I think … well, it’s faster than the pony express or sending it by boat! Get over yourselves and learn to appreciate that our lives are so much easier. It’s like we have a head start.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Love your attitude, Theo. Mindset is everything.

  • Winona Petit

    It’s so important to surround yourself with people who can give thoughtful, specific feedback. In my opinion, it’s much better to hear it from your colleagues or friends than to blow a customer or bring down the wrath of management — or the freeze of opportunities because of something you don’t realize you’re doing.

  • Francie Eschenower

    Confidence is always appealing. Not arrogance, but confidence.

    If you allow yourself to follow your instincts, you’re going to build confidence. It just happens over time. Even if you didn’t grow up in a way that bolstered your confidence, there’s no reason you can’t grow some now. Isaiah was right – you are the only one who thinks in your brain, who knows what you want. Don’t listen to everyone else telling you what to do when you have a clear message coming loud and clear from your own gut.

  • Xeno Hemlock

    Can’t pick the best out of the 5 items listed ’cause they’re all great.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Thanks, Xeno 🙂 Glad you liked the article.

  • Andrea Robinson

    As soon as I read the quote from Julia Roberts about following her instinct, I knew this article would be very special to me. This is a systematic way of doing something I’ve wanted to return to my whole life — following my gut-level instinct.

    And I know I’ve made progress, because I used to let people hold me hostage to their opinions for years … decades, even.

    And I cared so much what other people thought. And so little about what I thought.

    About a month ago, I cast off one more person who was just living off of me and giving me nothing but unwanted, off-base advice in return. It was a pleasure! The person resisted hearing the message, but what could they do? Stopping someone from acting in their own best interest is easy if they’re a pushover, impossible if they fully intend to walk their own path.

    I’m really glad to have this blog available to bolster my efforts! It’s inspiring me to celebrate those moments of reclaiming my freedom!

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Good for you, Andrea. Protecting your boundaries from negative people is not an easy task, but as you know, it’s very rewarding. Keep going, nothing can stop you. Thanks for commenting.

  • Willow Sampson

    Hey, I like this idea! I guess I would start at learning to hear criticism without taking it personally. It sounds like a way to get stronger and more resilient.

    I’m sensitive so I don’t like to hear other people criticizing each other or me. And I don’t say anything to criticize someone else, either. But you’re talking about asking for feedback, and asking people to be candid.

    The most successful people I know all have one trait in common – they’re incredibly honest. Some of them have honed their ability to be honest to a fine art – not mean, but really candid. And they can tell you exactly where you’re going wrong but you still feel uplifted. Not everyone has that gift, but I’d like to be more like that.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      That’s a noble pursuit, Willow. If someone asks you for feedback and your advice comes from a sincere place of wanting to help, then it’s all good. If the advice is unsolicited and not constructive (doesn’t offer a solution), different story.

  • Harvey Delano

    This story blows me away, and the whole article is right on.

    I like #5 – celebrate your victories but don’t get too caught up in them. You know how some people are always reminding you how great they are because they did this and that? Well, those people must be really insecure. Should I be giving them feedback, like, “Hey, that’s great that you did this and that, but what about the here and now? Let’s make a difference now.” Or, would that just be unwanted advice like you talked about in the article?

  • Julian Holst

    I guess I’m too young to have too many people looking to me like a crutch, except maybe someone wanting to “study” with me because they don’t know anything and I’ve been staying on top of it. But I really agree with what you’re saying. If I start helping everybody out of their weakness, what I’m really doing is reinforcing the idea that they’re not capable. And I wouldn’t want to do that. Besides, it’s not right for me to take a huge detour away from my life just to prop them up and try to help them live theirs.

  • Maggie Sue Smith

    “The one area where you should always trust your instincts is yourself.” This really resonates with me.

    I’ve never heard it said quite this way before — your instincts are sharp in areas of knowledge where you have a wide array of experiences and study. What other field of expertise do you know better than yourself? You know what makes you tick, what you like, what you don’t like, what you’ve experienced, and how you interpret everything.

    You’re the only one who knows what motivates you.

    So when you listen to others about what you should or shouldn’t, can or can’t, do in your life, you’re really listening to the peanut gallery instead of the expert.

    Very powerful, Isaiah.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Glad it resonated, Maggie. Thanks for commenting.

  • Monica and Willy Hill

    I’ve definitely learned to fight against popular opinions. Sometimes people are fooled into thinking that if large segments of the population agree on something, then it must be right. That’s a pretty ridiculous idea considering all the superstitions that we’ve overgrown throughout history. But people still do it. They point to someone else and say, “He’s doing it. She’s doing it. It must be a good thing.” Actually, I think that’s just a way of copping out.

    A really great point.

  • May

    Thank you. Thank you so so much. I’m a 19-year-old student that’s currently deciding on what I should major for my bachelor’s degree. I cried my eyes out because I got told by my parents every single day that I’m a stubborn child and that I should listen to them and pick a different major for a better future and career chances. I didn’t listen. Their words hurt me so much that I constantly cry. I was crying and I didn’t know what to do until I came across your article just now and every single word you delivered struck me so deep that suddenly I stopped crying and forgot what my parents said and I reminded myself of why I wanted to major in mass communication. Words can’t describe my sign of appreciation but I just want to thank you again from the bottom of my heart :))