Positive Path Recommended Reading

Being Independent and Interdependent, but not Co-dependent
By Beth Burns

I was communicating with a wise friend and we were talking about relationships. We were talking about romantic relationships at the time, but after thinking about it, the exchange we shared could be true of any significant relationship between friends, co-workers, employees, and parents with children.

We all want healthy, happy relationships in which we fully express who we are and we want the other person to authentically express who he/she is. I mentioned that the end result is that we want to be "INDEPENDENT, INTERDEPENDENT BEINGS WITHOUT BEING CODEPENDENT." Yikes! What the heck does that mean? OK, I admit, it's a little "coachy" sounding, but let me explain what I mean here.

By INDEPENDENT, I mean that each one of us can function as a self-reliant person. We are aware of what our special gifts are and who we are in relation to ourselves, to others, and to God. We know we are unique individuals who are free to be who we want to be. By trusting that we are wonderful just as we are (although always a work in progress), we make a valuable contribution to the world.

Our independence and acceptance of responsibility allows us to have boundaries in place that help others know how to respond to us and know what is acceptable for us. Autonomy allows us to safely, fully express our needs and desires to those we are in relation with.

By INTERDEPENDENCE, I mean that we all need other people. Even though we are independent beings, we are not meant to be alone. We are all interrelated and everyone needs to feel needed. You have your gifts and other people have theirs. Why not leverage the odds and work together to support one another? Interdependence is your connection with others. It's often the measuring stick for the quality of your life. How well you can relate and how comfortable others feel relating to you is crucial for a joyful life. Your interactions and communication together can create extraordinary outcomes!

Some people may feel that needing others is a sign of weakness, but with interdependence, the essence is really about working with a partner (or team) toward a common goal. It's empowering and it's a choice born of strengths and respect. Interdependence is wanting the best for others valuing, trusting and cherishing their unique abilities, while still being secure about your own.

On the other hand, there is CODEPENDENCY. Co-dependency allows the actions of others to determine the quality of our life. It is based on self-limiting beliefs and care-taking of others with little regard for yourself. I believe most of us want to please others and can, therefore, be categorized as co-dependent to a certain degree, but I am describing something far more oppressing here.

Earnie Larsen, an expert in co-dependency, describes it as: "Those self-defeating, learned behaviours that result in a diminished capacity to initiate or participate in loving relationships." I always think of co-dependency as loving others more than we love ourselves. While I will agree that being of service to others is of the utmost importance, being singularly focused on others with little regard for the gift that YOU are is not what God intended for us. In the Bible (see Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31 and Romans 13:9), we are charged to "love our neighbours AS OURSELVES."

Therefore, the objective remains "INDEPENDENT INTERDEPENDENCE WITHOUT CODEPENDENCY." Take an honest look at your relationships, both personally and professionally. Are you being responsible in your relations? What actions can you take to improve on them? The only way to make things better is to be aware, acknowledge and then act. Action is the key to changing the way things are and the gateway to something even better. And you definitely deserve that!

About the author: Beth Burns is a Professional Life Coach -- partnering with motivated people on their personal and professional goals. Her mission is to teach people to love themselves and to love the life they create. She offers two free email newsletters and can be visited on the web at www.BrightSideCoaching.com  She can also be reached by email at Beth@BrightSideCoaching.com


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