Being Independent and Interdependent, but not Co-dependentBy 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
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
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
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
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