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Interdependence vs dependence and independence

Updated: May 11, 2022

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Nic from Compassionate Self. And I wanted to share today about dependence interdependence, co-dependence and independence, and the difference between these different terms. So for me, independence has been seen in my culture and upbringing as something to be sought after. People who are independent are people who have got it all together. People who are doing well, and caring for their own needs. There is certainly some value in that because this is what we do from the moment we were born. We're learning to become more independent and yet there's still something missing from that. The problem comes when independence is just about me and me meeting my needs and there isn't any care or openness to considering what other people's needs might be. Dependence is when it's just about my needs, but I am expecting you to meet my needs. So, yeah. So in the case of a parent and a baby, a baby has a need for nourishment, for food, for water, and they cannot physically supply that to themselves. So they need somebody that they are dependent upon to have those basic needs met.

Dependence means that I am not able to meet my own needs and I'm expecting you to have them met for me. So this sometimes plays out in relationships where you have a co-dependence where each partner is expecting the other partner to meet their needs for them. There's some kind of lack of certain needs in each of the partners. The one partner might have a lack of a need for touch and intimacy, and the other partner might have a lack of need for being seen and being heard. In a co-dependent relationship, they then expect that the other is going to fill that need in for them. If one partner doesn't listen when the other was expecting it, or if the one partner isn't willing to come to cuddle on the couch when the other is expecting it, it can feel devastating. Co-dependence is this relationship where people are dependent upon one another for meeting their needs.

Independence is:

I am just responsible for meeting my needs, I am the only one who can do that, and I'm going to sort it out for myself.

Dependence is:

You are the only one who can meet my needs and I'm needing external support to get my needs met.

Interdependence is:

where I want to be living. It is where I have healed enough in myself or cleaned up enough in myself that those needs are being met within me already. So I'm not expecting anybody to see or hear me. I'm able to be present to myself. I'm not expecting acceptance from the outside because I am already accepting myself. I'm not expecting love from the outside because I'm loving myself. And yet I still live in relationship to life and the world. And I thrive in being interdependent. So interdependence is something like my needs matter, and so do yours. Your needs are equally as important as mine

So I might have an idea of how I'd like to meet my needs, but because we maybe live together, are colleagues or we're family members, I'm going to check with you how it might be for you if I meet my needs in that way. So naturally, I'm not going to check with you for every single move I make, but certainly, activities where I imagine that you may be affected. I would like to check how is it for you.

So in a practical sense, this is what it might look like:

So I go climbing regularly and, if I was moving from a place of independence, I would say to my partner "I'm going climbing on Friday night and that's it." I would just go, and there would be no consideration for how that might be for her.

If I was dependent, I might say "I would like to go climbing on Friday evening, is that okay for you?" When she says "No, that's not okay for me." I don't go climbing anymore or I get really upset.

So her needs to become more important than mine and I'm dependent on her to have my needs met.

Whereas interdependence is that I am considering that I want to meet my needs for movement, fun, and connection with a friend of mine and at the same time I'm also realizing that my choice to climb on Friday evenings may have an impact on her. So I want to check with her "how is this for you?" And if she is a hundred percent okay with that, and that is meeting her needs in some way, then fantastic, I go climbing on Fridays.

If her needs are met for some reason, then interdependence is:

I hold my needs, you hold your needs, and let's see if we both hold our needs together, what can we find that works for both of us. For example, It's important for me that I get some movement, that I get some connection with a friend, and that I get some space. It is important for her that on a Friday evening, we relax, connect, and have moments of closeness and sharing about our week. So a possible alternative strategy could be that I go climbing on a Saturday morning or on a Thursday evening. Interdependence is really about considering all needs. For me, interdependence is a move, a shift from the experience of complete separation to an experience of more unity, and of more consideration. It is where all needs matter and everybody's needs are important and. It is where everybody's needs are of equal importance. When I can hold all needs with equal importance, then I'm living in a state of interdependence.

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