In our “independence” obsessed world today, we see people are increasingly finding themselves in emotional isolation and loneliness. This is especially true in the developed cities where people are infatuated with the “I can do it myself, I don’t need you” mentality. Need should not, however, be confused with neediness. We all need each other. We cannot survive as a species without depending on each other for our needs, wants and desires to be fulfilled. Those who think they don’t need anyone, are essentially in denial.
This mania for independence arose from its polar opposite: codependence, especially in relationships. While codependence is toxic with an attachment dynamic where one feels the desperation to cling on to another for survival, people have swung to the other extreme and declared, “I don’t need anyone. I am happy and self-sufficient. Happiness is a choice, a state of mind and I don’t need to depend on anyone for my happiness”. Nevertheless, this kind of mentality also comes from an equally powerless state, where one does not believe that others will be willing to fulfill their needs and therefore they convince themselves that needing anyone or depending on another for anything at all is a sign of weakness. This mindset usually forms due to past hurt and childhood trauma where one’s needs and wants were repeatedly invalidated, ignored, unfulfilled, especially the emotional ones, by their guardians or surrounding environment, therefore they came to believe that needing is weakness. Not true. Being vulnerable is not the same as being weak. There is nothing like the joy of sharing and depending on each other to fulfill our needs and desires in life. And that requires an immense act of vulnerability. It does not take as much courage to be independent, as it takes to be vulnerable. We cannot have a civilization, or the human race running without depending on each other. But since we live in a world of duality, where contrasts exist to show us what we don’t want so as to come to knowledge of what we do want, in the face of codependence people have gravitated toward its polar opposite: total independence. But both are unhealthy dynamics because essentially both repel what we truly desire: interconnectedness and intimacy, the “into-me-see” kind of intimacy.
To understand independence, let us first examine the dynamics of codependence: when one is co-dependent on his/her partner in a relationship, he/she feels a survival threat due to any form of separation, even temporary. So they cling on to their partners for life, displaying a strong sense of emotional attachment and neediness which produces very unhealthy dynamics in the connection. The sense of attachment is so strong that they give up their personal power and autonomy, abandon their true selves, afraid to be authentic or express their needs to their partners, in fear of losing them. So they continually engage in self-abandonment, self-sabotage, self-sacrifice, self-hate kind of behavior, where they renounce their own needs, wants or desires to be at the beck and call of their partners because they don’t believe their partners would meet their needs anyways. And this is precisely what creates the victim-control dynamics in relationships, especially the abusive ones. More often than not, it is an emotional abuse where the partner ignores or invalidates you, violates your boundaries or doesn’t respect you as an individual.
So what creates this codependency? To understand this we have to go back to our childhoods. Most of our emotional imprints are formed during infancy and puberty that blueprints our entire lives with certain behavioral patterns. And we are attracted to people who bring out these patterns in us so our unresolved issues can come up and heal. If our emotional needs are neglected or ignored by our guardians as children, then we grow up believing we are not loveable, our needs are not important. We feel unworthy of love at the core of our being. So we learn to continually bypass our difficult emotions in order to cope, but by doing so, they don’t go away, they fester! Rooted deep in our subconscious minds, these unresolved feelings become trauma and show up in adult waking lives as blind spots. For no reason, the partner may suddenly leave, reject, or abuse in subtle ways, ignore, disrespect, maltreat us and we don’t understand why. This is due to the vibration we are emitting that we are not even consciously aware of, but they can be felt by our partners at an intuitive level. If we are convinced we are not loveable or unimportant, we will engage in self-abandoning behaviors without meaning to and that will force the partner to abandon us as well. The external world is just a mirror of our internal vibrations. Our reality is created by the thoughts and beliefs, conscious or unconscious, held in our minds as truths. Fetuses respond to the stress of their parents while in the womb. Those memories are stored in the body of the new born and show up later as blind spots or illnesses, without conscious knowledge of what is happening. If the parents are stressed all the time, it encodes the physiology of the child. To cope the child may mold herself, develop a conforming personality, unable to express her own desires, needs or be authentic, which leads to sickness and codependency. The child is trying to solve the parents’ problems all the time, because without the attachment she knows she would not survive. It is a survival mechanism. And when the need for this attachment is not met the infant cries all the time. This attachment dysfunction leads to relationship problems in adulthood, where one keeps trying to attach unconsciously instead of being authentic or communicating their needs to their partners. We are held hostage by our childhood unresolved emotions, until they can be understood, processed and released consciously. Then the exterior reality may change as well. To learn more, read codependence: toxic relationships.
But we don’t understand we are being held hostage by our own unresolved emotions from the past. As adults we just react to the situations and circumstances life presents us. So either we engage in codependent behavior by abandoning ourselves to keep that relationship or in order to maintain our personal power swing to its polar opposite and display fierce independence, that snobbish behavior where you show others that you need no one and are content by yourself, while still hoping desperately that someone will love you truly for who you are. But how can anyone love you, if you are hiding all the time, putting up such a defense? No doubt, this behavior also stems from that same space of deep hurt and feeling unloved or abandoned, where one eliminates the need of relying on anyone for love, affection etc. altogether. People are usually always reacting to past hurts in present connections, therefore turning the present into another version of their past, hence these endless patterns are created which are hard to break as the mind has now formed a dysfunctional belief. And beliefs create our reality! This is a prime reason for increasingly failing relationships in today’s times.
So the vibration of fierce independence essentially comes from that inner powerlessness state where one doesn’t believe their needs can be met by another, hence put out the vibe of “stay away from me” without meaning to. People are so used to doing this that it has become natural now as they don’t even stop to check how they are coming across to their partners: rude, selfish, mean, cruel, nasty, self-absorbed, uncaring… Obviously the connection breaks or the deeper needs of the individuals in the relationship are not met. So either they stay dissatisfied or part ways. And loneliness perpetuates.
It is natural to swing toward independence when we first learn about self-empowerment. But soon we realize even that doesn’t work because in the end we all want to connect, share, bond and create with one another. And for that interdependence is necessary. To sustain interdependence, we need to learn how to communicate more effectively with each other, compromise, negotiate and navigate the connection in healthy ways. In today’s society communication is so bad that most relationships break just because the couple cannot or do not know how to have an honest, open, frank, heart to heart conversation with each other, without making each other wrong. Read more here: interdependence, the key to relationships.
If we look at the trends in relationships from east to west, usually in the western world there is this sense of fierce independence perpetuated by society and in the eastern world, there is this toxic dynamic of codependence. Of course both dynamics are present everywhere but this is a generalization here. We live in a world of duality or contrasts where one extreme always gives birth to its polar opposite; for example, along with excitement the seeds of disappointment are sown, joy is defined in the face of sorrow and so on, until we can balance the energy vibrations of the two poles and come to a mid-point of harmony. In case of relationships, balancing the extremities of codependence and independence gives birth to interdependence. That is the sweet spot in relationships. Where one can say, “yes I can do this myself, I don’t depend on you for it but I choose to do it with you because it is more fun together”. So both parties in the connection are not coming from a place of neediness or loneliness but from a place of wholeness, thus creating oneness.
The energy of fierce independence puts people away from you. Everyone is sensitive and vulnerable in the face of power. If you are giving off the vibes that you don’t need anyone then people will stay away from you and soon you will find yourself very much alone. In most capitalistic societies caught up in the mad rat race, this kind of independence is giving rise to increasing seclusion and solitude, which in turn leads to depression, bitterness, indifference. The sensitivities of life are lost in an attempt to do it all alone and relationships suffer. Emotions are not shared, feelings are not expressed, vulnerabilities are masked and people put on a façade of fake strength and nonchalance. People leave the connection before they think they will be rejected, for example, abandoning a conversation abruptly or prematurely before it even ended properly, just to preserve your power. That way they are setting themselves up for more rejection, because they are essentially rejecting themselves, suppressing their own needs, wants and desires. This kind of continual emotional repression leads to chronic ailments as well.
While clinginess is unhealthy, more times we cause each other pain by not being emotionally present in the connection. There is a hunger everywhere in the world, today more than ever, among people to connect, share, bond and be intimate with one another. And yet how can anyone see into you, if you are always giving off the impression that you are so independent, you don’t need anyone? We can get a sense of this from how people are going crazy in social media, where there is not much avenue for direct rejection, sharing such minute, intimate details from their lives, crying out for attention, love and acceptance. But unfortunately social media is where all the crazy expressions end. People in real life are unavailable, emotionally absent and find it increasingly difficult to express and experience who they really are, in front of each other. That is so sad. We need to stop focusing so much on social media and start sharing with each other at a deeper level, be present and support one another in processing our difficult emotions. Such a thing is only possible when we accept that we can never be totally independent and rather get into an interdependent relationship dynamics with each other, joyfully sharing love and other paraphernalia of life.
In conclusion, this compulsive independence is creating a lot of disconnection among people, giving rise to power struggles, control games and manipulation in relationships, which in turn is leading to many mental disorders like bipolar, depression, anxiety, trauma, mood spells, temper tantrums, ADHD etc. We need to stop pretending that we don’t need one another, and start owning our truths. Acknowledging and accepting is the first step towards healing and changing our circumstances.
So chuck the independence and the codependence. Go for interdependence!