Codependency, Independence, & Interdependance
I may not have used those words a few years ago. But it’s become a bit of a buzz word, I think in part because a large number of humans have some codependent tendencies.
And there’s more to explore than just what codependency is… I have found there is an interesting connection between codependency, independence, and interdependence, that’s worth exploring.
What is Codependency?
What does codependency look like and how do you know if it's showing up in your relating?
So glad you asked!
My experience of codependency is that it all starts in childhood (like so many of our relationship struggles)… no matter how well intentioned our parents were, many of us did not receive the attention, stability, safety, or tools that were needed to develop a healthy sense of self.
This healthy sense of self, is what helps us set boundaries, ask for what we need, and walk away from things or people that do harm to us.
You are likely experiencing codependency if you are concerned about what others think about you to the extent that it impacts the choices you make for yourself; if you find yourself 'doing' a lot to get validated; if you are haunted by perfectionism.
Codependency can make it hard to be around people in pain without wanting to pull away from them, or try to ‘fix’ them and their problems to make the pain stop.
It can make you fear being alone or abandoned; feel responsible for other people's happiness which can become people-pleasing, or over-giving, leaving you at times depleted, resentful, or feeling taken for granted.
If any of this sounds familiar, then you know what codependency feels like. In extreme cases, it can lead to totally losing yourself, and can lead to being dependent on another person, substance, or thing in order to feel whole.
What is Independence?
Independence can feel like a freeing contrast from the crippling shame, powerlessness and instability that living in co-dependency creates.
We often get our first taste of independence when we break away from our parents, making our own choices, shaping our lives, discovering what we like and what we want for our lives. But many of us are still seeking validation and approval of our choices in this phase of life, and are taking actions from a baseline of a co-dependant self.
So real independence arrives when we become aware of how much we've been shaped by the influences of others and start to hear and listen to our own inner nature.
This is what Tantra, and personal development work gave me, a path to begin knowing and honoring my authentic self. From this place, healthy boundaries arise, an ability to say 'no' to things that aren't good for you, and being able to risk upsetting people or being alone in order to care for ourselves.
In independence we get good with being alone… we get good with moving to the beat of our own drum because we enjoy dancing alone, because we enjoy ourselves. We check in about what we feel, and think... and learn how to share that in healthy ways.
Independence may sound pretty good, especially if you live mostly in codependency land, but it is not the last step in the self-actualization journey! Beyond codependency and independence there is interdependence.
What Is Interdependence?
Interdependence is when we can relate from a place of wholeness and self-love and still honor that we are all connected.
Interdependence gives our newfound self-love a greater purpose. It reminds us that when we love and honor ourselves, the natural movement is to share that love with those we are relating with.
Once we have established a healthy sense of self, and have learned how to set boundaries, how to say 'no', how to meet our needs… then it is time to play with letting go of rigid ideas about ourselves to open up to the possibility of experiencing union… oneness.
We can't leap to this experience in a real way without first recognizing where we have lost ourselves, going on a journey to find ourselves, and then loving the shit out of ourselves…. some times to other peoples’ dismay.
Once we feel solid in our Independence we can play with sharing our inner and outer resources with those in need. We can play with surrendering our personal likes and dislikes for the good of the whole, we can practice listening to what is needed in any given moment, and finding the capacity to respond.
This is like the airplane announcement about putting on your own oxygen mask first and then assisting others. Or getting married, and learning how to co-create a life together. Or becoming a parent, or taking care of someone more vulnerable... these are all opportunities to practice Interdependence.
Of course no journey is a linear progression. I shared it this way for contrast and clarity between the different phases; but in lived experience there are often threads of each of these flavors running parallel as we evolve.
It helps to start noticing how you relate with the people in your life, and notice which one of these stages you are coming from.
If you notice too much codependency….
It’s time to connect in with yourself
Can you slow down, take some space?
What needs do you have that aren’t being met?
Are there requests that you need to make?
What can you give yourself to feel pleasure or enjoyment?
If you notice too much independence?
Where can you loosen rigidity or being set in your ways?
Where can you extend your love to another?
Can you share what is on your heart with someone you trust?
Can you ask for help with something you feel vulnerable about?
And I don't think you can have too much interdependence, but it is a hard state to stabilize so it may take quite a bit of practice to experience more of it.
In my upcoming body of bliss program, we will be deep diving into practices that will connect you to yourself and lead to a state of wholeness over time, from this place boundaries naturally arise, needs are met with less effort, and love flows with an intelligence.
The early bird pricing ends this week, you can read more HERE: