Allowing Ourselves to Have Healthy Dependency
We often think that would like to be independent from other people; this is especially true if we have had difficult relationships with others. We imagine that if we weren’t dependent, we would be free and untroubled by the demands of other people. However, can we realistically achieve independence? And if we can, is it even more desirable than healthy dependency?
We are wary of dependency …
Many of us have had difficult relationships in the past, so we can sometimes feel an overwhelming urge to free ourselves from all relationships; ‘if this is what it’s like to be in a dependent relationship, then I want no part of it’. We can feel that we can only find lasting happiness and satisfaction through making ourselves more independent from other people. We have felt used, uncared for and compromised. It seems impossible for us to believe that we can have dependent relationships which can actually work for us.
… and yet we are wired for it
It is part of the human condition to be dependent on other people because it just seems to be the way that humans are wired. We are social animals and our inbuilt neurological responses have been built upon the importance of our relationships with others.
The difficulty is that the dependent relationships which we have experienced may have been unhealthy dependencies, but it is possible to have healthy relationships where one person is dependent upon the other. The hallmarks of these healthy dependencies is often choice – both people choose to be in a relationship, and, mutuality – each of the people are dependent on the other.
Perhaps then the goal of psychotherapy isn’t to enable us to be independent of other people, but rather to help us learn to have dependent relationships which are healthy and sustainable; relationships that aren’t abusive or destructive but rather allow our natural relatedness to flourish.
Tell me what you think in the comments.
– Tim Hill
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