the ability or propensity to live and act without depending on others

Self-reliance is in tension perhaps with the virtues of accepting help gracefully or of seeking out good advice? Self-reliance can be an important prerequisite to being helpful to others (i.e. rather than a burden on them).

a.k.a. autarkeia, autonomy, self-reliance, self-sufficiency

Complementary virtues

Contrasting vices

  • dependence
  • neediness

Virtues possibly in tension

How to acquire or strengthen it


Notes and links


Mentioned elsewhere


Inspirational quotes

  • “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self Reliance”
  • “Being poor is better than living in luxury and serving the rich. Do not stand at the door of a rich man asking for favors if you hope to lead a good life.” ―an “Indian proverb” according to Tolstoy
  • “A dedicated life is only healthy and holy if it is sufficiently simple for the ‘inspired’ person to be able himself to provide all the labour involved in supplying his material needs, or its equivalent. Reduce and simplify your needs to the point where you can easily satisfy them yourself, so that those who live or claim to live for the Spirit do not thereby add to the burdens of other men, taking away from them the possibility and perhaps the very desire to develop their spiritual life also. What will it benefit the world if, in developing your spiritual life, you add to the material burdens of others by a corresponding amount? and if, in rising yourself towards the Eternal you as it were oblige someone else to descend correspondingly in the opposite direction. You will simply have created or increased a state of inequality and injustice without increasing the sum total of spiritual living.” —Pierre Ceresole
  • “The greatest fruit of self-sufficiency is freedom.” (from the Vatican collection of Epicurean sayings)