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Independence and Interdependence

Independence and Interdependence

The word "dependence" comes from the Old French word "dépendance," which originated from the Latin "dependentia." The root of "dependentia" is the Latin verb "dependēre," which is a combination of "de-" and "-pendēre." In this context, "de-" means "from" and "-pendēre" means "to hang." So, "dependēre" essentially means "to hang from" or "to hang down," symbolizing a state of reliance or suspension from something else. 

Healthy adult independence is characterized by a number of qualities and behaviors, often associated with maturity, resilience, and personal responsibility. While independence is generally seen as a positive trait, it's possible for it to go too far. Excessive independence, sometimes known as hyper-independence or unhealthy independence, can lead to isolation, stress, and other issues. On the other hand is unhealthy dependence (or codependence).

Unhealthy Dependence

Healthy Independence

Unhealthy Independence

Excessive Caretaking: A strong urge to care for others, even when it's unsolicited or unhealthy. They may neglect their own needs to focus on caring for others.

Self-reliance: Able to take care of oneself, which includes both practical skills (like cooking, cleaning, and money management) and emotional skills (like handling stress and solving personal problems).

Avoiding relationships and connections: While it's healthy to be comfortable alone, completely avoiding intimacy and connection can lead to isolation and loneliness.

Prone to Indecision and Resistant to Change: Might stay in harmful relationships or situations because they're afraid of being alone or independent. Hard to adapt to change, particularly changes that could affect their relationships. Might resist change to maintain the status quo, even when the status quo is harmful.

Decision-making: Can make decisions on their own, taking into account the potential consequences and their long-term goals. They can seek advice when needed, but they don't rely on others to make decisions for them.

Reluctance to ask for or accept help: Everyone needs help at times, and it's okay to ask for it. If someone is so focused on being independent that they never ask for help, even when they need it, it can lead to unnecessary stress and difficulties.

Need for Control: A codependent person might feel a strong need to control situations, particularly those involving their dependents. This can lead to manipulative or dominating behaviors, as they feel compelled to manage outcomes or people's behavior.

Personal responsibility: Accepts the consequences of one's actions, both positive and negative. It also involves taking steps to improve one's situation rather than blaming others.

Unwillingness to delegate or trust others: At work or in group projects, the inability to delegate tasks or the tendency to micromanage due to a lack of trust in others can be an indicator of excessive independence. This can lead to burnout and strain relationships.

People-Pleasing: A compulsive need to please others, often at the expense of one's own needs or desires. This can lead to a pattern of self-sacrifice and neglect of self-care.

Goal setting and achievement: Independent adults can set personal, career, and financial goals, and they take the initiative to reach them. They are self-motivated and don't rely on others to push them forward.

Self-neglect: If an individual consistently neglects their own needs, particularly in the realm of self-care, due to an excessive need to demonstrate self-reliance, it's a sign of unhealthy independence. This can include physical health, mental health, and emotional needs.

Reactivity: Codependent individuals may be extremely reactive to others' thoughts and feelings. They might take things personally or become overly defensive.

Emotional regulation: This involves the ability to understand and manage one's emotions, as well as to empathize with others' emotions. Emotional independence doesn't mean avoiding feelings or relationships; instead, it involves being able to maintain emotional stability and healthy relationships.

Ignoring or suppressing emotions: If a person equates independence with not having or expressing emotions, especially those perceived as "weak", it's likely gone too far. Emotional awareness and expression are important parts of healthy human functioning and relationships. 

Lack of Boundaries: Codependent adults often struggle to set and maintain personal boundaries. They may allow others to overstep their boundaries consistently, leading to a loss of self, feelings of resentment, or burnout.

Boundary setting: This involves understanding and asserting one's needs in relationships, as well as respecting others' boundaries. Independent adults can say no when necessary and can balance their own needs with those of others.

Lack of empathy or understanding: Excessive independence might make it difficult for individuals to empathize with others or understand their needs. If a person consistently prioritizes their independence over the feelings and needs of others, it can negatively impact their relationships.