Freedom isn’t free. It is a struggle. But we all, especially those of us that bristle at the idea of someone else controlling us, need to be clear about what we are fighting in favor of and what exactly it is that we are resisting.
From the age of about eight, most of us were skilled enough and self-reliant enough to start thinking and behaving as though we don’t need anyone. That was about the time we started to assert ourselves and to act as though those that speak into our lives are to be resisted. Real maturity involves gaining freedom from a sense of being entitled to independence. It is moving from valuing to independence to valuing interdependence.
Real maturity is being willing to explore what it is to be interdependent throughout life, including, but not limited to, romantic relationships. In fact, this is so especially when it comes to romantic relationships because a willingness, or unwillingness, for interdependence in the relationship is like a governor on the level of intimacy and trust that can be achieved and enjoyed in the relationship. If you’re determined to be, and to remain, independent in romantic relationships, by definition, those relationships will fail on most, if not all, levels. If you insist on being independent and are also looking back on too many love life memories that are painful, consider two questions:
1) How is being stubbornly independent working for you?
2) Are you aware that the main common denominator of those failed relationships is you?
The good news is that you have direct control over… you! You have the ability and the capacity to see the problems caused by an intractable insistence on independence and to move toward more and more interdependence.
I used to tell myself a lie that went something like this: “When I determine she can be trusted, then I will trust, and then I will share more of myself, and then I will be more interdependent and less of a loner. In the meantime, she has no excuse for not trusting me!” What a load of crap that was.
- Depend upon others, despite the occasional disappointments, and let someone you love depend upon you.
- Regularly ask for others’ opinions and feedback, especially from significant others.
- Be willing to be influenced. Take it from a recovering know-it-all: you don’t actually know it all.
- Freedom isn’t free, but neither is independence. Actually, independence is potentially quite costly.
We all have the choice to live independently or interdependently. Real independence doesn’t exist. To the degree that the notion of independence promises safety and security, it does not deliver either safety or security. It is a lie we believe when we are ruled by anger and fear; anger at what others have done to us in the past and fear that we might be subjected to the same kind of pain again.
Interdependence is the better option when it comes to our God outlook, our professional endeavors, our friendships, and our love life.
The risky business of being vulnerable and honest, of being the equal to a special person who you consider to be your equal is a real struggle, to be sure. But in light of the alternative, it is well worth it.
The next time you say, “Leave me alone,” ask yourself if you really meant that.
More Obstacle Blaster articles about being interdependent and promoting interdependence in the workplace: