Dependence and Independence

Today, I’d like to talk about dependence and independence, what each of them is on the emotional level, and how one can become more independent.

Many times, when we talk about independence, it’s in reference to an interest in being able to do what we want to do. For instance, “financial independence” refers to being able to live without working. But for some, this still can mean dependence on financial independence.

Indeed, the freedom to be where one desires isn’t necessarily freedom at all, since one can still feel dependent upon that desired circumstance remaining. And when one’s desire isn’t there, it can feel as though things aren’t right until it is. What people are talking about here is independence as freedom from circumstance. Yet, it’s still very much dependent upon the circumstance one wishes to escape to, and remain in.

So what is dependence? I posit the following definition:

A state of being that involves “looking to get to” a circumstance, such that one craves it, feels one needs it, feels things are wrong without it, or may fear its absence. It can involve impatience, fixation, imbalance, suffering, emotional pain, fear, panic, and anxiety. It can lead to escapism, negativity, and frustration.

And what about independence?

A state of being that involves openness to all circumstances, whatever the current circumstance happens to be. Involves flow, and a sense of detachment from circumstance and everything outside of one’s control, including direct control. Generally a positive, free, authentic, open state, devoid of shame and very fluid, not holding on to the things that come and go in reality.

Thus you can see the differences between the two. Yet, all too often, we can slip into feelings of dependence, however ideal independence might sound. Continue reading

People-pleaser to fighter: The Nurturer’s Journey

“One can easily become a monster… it’s pathetic. What I want more than anything… is to know how to care. Bah.”

Today I wanted to talk about the Nurturer. This is the part of one’s self who naturally cares about others, and wants to help people to become better. He (or she) sees people in need, and wants to help. He has good intentions.

But perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The Nurturer sometimes gets too excited about the idea of helping somebody that he forgets the whole picture, and all the complexities involved in taking action. Sometimes we hurt people without intending to, or we support those who are creating harm.

All too often, the Nurturer turns those bad results on himself, feeling guilt and pain. He buys self-help books. He fantasizes about being able to truly help others, and can get envious of those who already do. And after the envy and guilt, he fully accepts it was a mistake to get so down on himself, that he still has flaws, that he still has much to learn. And he has the drive.

There’s another path for the Nurturer, that doesn’t involve constantly modifying himself and examining his flaws, where he doesn’t have to keep watching himself in order to be a better, kinder human being. Instead, he can fight.

Mistakes in kindness usually happen when a part of yourself that’s out of line – something arrogant, demeaning, prideful, hateful – goes unquestioned inside you. Your Nurturer can decide that, instead of catering to the whims of others all the time, and helping those in need, he can do more good by fighting with those who create your suffering. Questioning them. In the process, he’ll be confronting his own demons – thus changing and becoming more able to care for others.

That’s the thing – defeating what’s uncaring in you, rather than cleaning up after them, you become more caring.

After wandering around under the radar, doing good here, good there, the decision to fight makes this part of yourself more like a chivalrous knight. Ready to draw a hard line and tell your inner demons to back down. Ready to prove their approach to life as wrong.

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How does your Defensiveness hurt you?

There is a side of you who defends his actions against the consideration of doing differently. “But, that’s not all of me!” you might say (defensively), and you’re right. But what does that part of you do to you?

Defensiveness, protecting the wrong things

Well, one thing it can do is act like a shield against the wrong things, things that can actually help you. It holds back the desire to learn and grow, become better and more free inside. It’s that voice inside your head (or out loud) that talks like this “Just shut up! You don’t know me! Go away!” and causes you to push away from people. Always insistent and alarmed by a suggestion that you might be doing the wrong thing.

But learning is the process of discovering that you were wrong, again and again. You didn’t know it all, there was more to it than you thought. That wall of defensiveness, then, will stop you from learning. And learning renders you more capable to move freely and intelligently in a new area of life. If you push away from the idea that you could be wrong, then you also push yourself down too, you limit your capabilities. Rather than feeling like you can try new things, learn about yourself, or consider where your actions have caused harm freely, you learn resentment, denial of your feelings, and living a life where you try to avoid the things that push your buttons.

“But I don’t want my buttons pushed!” you might say. I hear you. But you can also dismantle the buttons. And defensiveness is one of those buttons.

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