For the past 15 years or so, I’ve prided myself in my independent nature. In fact, up until a few years ago, I didn’t realize what I concept I had about what that meant. One day I decided to look at what this really meant for me. Here’s what I came up with:
- Being independent is the sign of a strong person – in theory, yes
- Being independent means standing on your own two feet – okay I’ll give you that one
- Being independent means you don’t have to rely on anyone else for anything – hmmmm I think we better take a look at this
After getting in touch with the nomenclature of this particular concept I realized that something wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t the words I used to describe how I felt. It was the energy behind the words. It felt stilted, limited and somewhat inflexible. Then it occurred to me to look at the word “interdependence”. I wasn’t quite sure what the difference between the two words was so I consulted the good ole Webster’s for objective distinction. Here’s what I learned: Independence is defined as : “not subject to control by others” and “not requiring or relying on others”. Interdependence is defined as: “between, among, in the midst or reciprocal”. Upon reading this, I got in touch with how independence felt to me:
As I explored interdependence I felt:
- Inclusive – reliant
Both words have their positives and their negatives. In and of themselves they are only words. Yet they are words with associated qualities and responses appropriate for different times and aspects of life. For example, sometimes in life I need to be autonomous. Sometimes not. Sometimes, “individualistic” is a welcomed strength as it qualifies me for certain tasks such as in my work. Sometimes I’ve used individualism to separate and avoid. Flexibility is a positive quality and yet sometimes being too flexible has resulted in me being a doormat or not allowing my “voice” to be heard. Sometimes reliance has meant Iooking to friends and family for wisdom, experience and support. Sometimes I’ve allowed me to be enabled in an unhealthy manner.
As I’ve pulled back to look at the whole enchilada, I’ve discovered that it isn’t about being one way or the other. Both have their place. It is a matter of observing life from the neutral balance point; listening to one’s heart and following the guide of truth within. When it is time to be independent – be independent. When it is time to be interdependent. Be interdependent. It’s all a dance.
Exercise: Explore and experience what independence and interdependence mean to you. Get out paper and pen and walk yourself through the following exercise. Write down the answer to each question; tell yourself the truth:
1. What three words describe independence to you?
- Where in your life are you independent? How does independence show up in your life?
- Have you used independence to separate and avoid aspects of life? Or have you allowed your independence to limit your choices in some way or another? Yes or No answer. No self-judgment allowed. 🙂
2. What three words describe interdependence to you?
- Where in your life are you interdependent? How does interdependence show up in your life?
- Have you used interdependent to be co-dependent with someone – in other words, enable you to repeat certain behaviors that you really don’t want in your life? Or have you used interdependence to not trust your own wisdom-speak your truth? Yes or No answer. No self-judgment allowed. 🙂
3. Once you have completed these questions, read over your answers. Then close your eyes and get in touch with your experience:
- What are you feeling in your body?
- What emotions are you feeling?
4. Ask yourself, who’s feeling all this? The answer is simple, “I Am.” Now relax in this feeling of “I Am.” Breathe into this feeling of “I Am.” Sit in this feeling for a few minutes and just let it all be as it is. Allow the experience drift away on its own.
5. When you feel ready, open your eyes, throw the paper away and allow your inner wisdom to choreograph your life’s dance. Salsa, waltz, tango, line-dance, disco…you name it. Just dance!