Looking at a list of national independence days around the world, this subject could be written in any month. However, in the USA, the Maldives, Venezuela, Laos, and Belgium, whether it is called National Day, Independence Day or something else, this month celebrates a change. In places like Canada and France, July also holds big ‘events’ in the history of these nations… but what does this have to do with you, your mind, and your life?
We hear about drug dependencies, co-dependent relationships, financial independence… but what does dependency and independence have to do with the way the subconscious works – and is there a tendency for one end of the in/dependence spectrum to be better than the other? This is a purely independent view on the solo and interactive approaches to life.
Dependent or Independent, that is the question
In a tribe mentality, independence means certain death. In a western, first-world perspective, independence is a goal to which to aspire. What’s the answer? I don’t know if there is a universal ‘solution’ to that question. I’d guess, as it is with many of the related questions about how to live life well, the question arises – what works for you?
It’s important to separate what’s actually working from what we expect to work or what our society feels is successfully working for ‘all’ of us. A decision like this isn’t something to take lightly and is individual in nature.
And it’s not an “or” decision in my perspective. We can be independent in some areas of our life and dependent in others. While not impossible, it’s a lot harder to play chess by yourself. There are some things in life that may be easier with two (or more). Yet there may be some other areas that are more effective when done solitary.
What are some areas in your life that suit a more ‘networked’ approach – where collaboration or consultation may create a better ‘product’ in the end? Where are you best on your own? You may wish to dissect different aspects of different parts of your life – by yourself or with others – to discover where your ‘sweet spot’ on the dependent/independent gamut lies.
“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” Denis Waitley
Life is a Journey
Because the mind works in metaphors, I’d like you to imagine your life as a road trip. My personal story started safely in the backseat of my parent’s car, in what was a 70’s version of a ‘safety’ seat. Over the years I’ve driven my own vehicle, bummed a couple lifts, been stranded by the side of the path (usually by my own neglect) and even taken public transport in my life’s voyage.
While I don’t believe I would change any of my personal passage throughout life – not the path, nor the travelling companions, nor the stops along the way – I would change how I travelled. I think I would focus on enjoying the way I was riding more – not complaining about having to travel and deal with the trip all by myself, while at another time turn around and sulk in the back of someone else’s vehicle because I wasn’t driving at the time… I’d get over myself and the way I expected/believed/felt the journey ‘should’ go and actually be there more.
That would mean I hold the responsibility of leading with both seriousness and joy, and be grateful for the times when I am not heading everything up, when I am being supported (whatever the resources).
“Injustice in the end produces independence.” Voltaire
What are you willing to do for your In/Dependence?
When I work with clients I always focus on benefits – what are you going to get out of the change you’re making? What will you gain? What will be the end positive result for making a shift? At the same time it is important to also look at the ‘dark side’ of choice – the costs and losses that may arise from doing something differently. For example a new non-smoker might have more energy and money, but lose a connection with smoking friends. A person who is no longer debilitated by chronic pain may be able to function better in the world, but lose the family and friend support network that resulted from this problem.
We usually have a greater comfort level at one end of the in/dependence spectrum (even if it is all in our minds). While I realize that I’ve been dependant on a lot of people throughout my whole life, it’s not my comfort zone for the most part. Sometimes I feel that I might be a burden, or a hassle, or be restricting others because I am asking from others or being part of someone else’s ‘thing’. Yet, when others work with me, are learning from me, are depending on me – I don’t feel that they are any burden at all – I truly enjoy it. And while I have realized my double standard, I’m still working out greater ease in depending on others without compunction.
“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security a man will have in this world is a research of knowledge, experience and ability.” Henry Ford
Celebrate Your Personal ID
Wherever your comfort level lies, celebrate it. Yet realize that the difference between independence and dependence is a tiny shift (or a great stride in your mind).
Being able to celebrate the natural and varied shades of in/dependence that happens in life allows us greater mental, emotional and physical freedom, partially because we can accept where we are. Acceptance is not resignation, not a giving up of what can be in the future, it is merely a way of being present and grateful for where we are, while still holding on to goals for the future (that might put us on a different part of the ID scale).
Sometimes to do this, we need to exercise our weaker in/dependence muscles. If independence is your strength, look at all the situations where others help you, or consider what it would be like to allow others to support you for a while. If you feel more comfortable depending on others, where could you take a leading role, assert your independence? Both are skills in this social and networked world of people and interactions – absolutes of one or the other may, in fact, be impossible, so it is handy to work on our adaptability and ability to come to grips with both.
“Nature has never read the Declaration of Independence. It continues to make us unequal.” Will Durant