Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.

Independence-What is It, Really?

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Jul 5, 2013 7:05 PM

Celebrating independence is a good thing, of course, but is it true that a nation, a person, or a group is ever really independent? I say, it's a relative term, meaning less dependent than previously or than possibly or than someone else or less dependent in one way and not in another way. Not very professional sounding but let me give examples.

A country rebels from its ruler or from being a territory of another country. Then, it has its own government and makes its decisions, fights its battles, and has its leaders. It now develops its own internal conflicts and turmoil with which to deal. Economically, it is dependent on other countries for trade, recognition and not being invaded.

A woman leaves her husband after many years because she feels controlled and wants to be independent. Then, she is still dependent on his moods and personality with regard to sharing their children and maybe obtaining finances. If she didn't work, she becomes dependent on society for making a living on her own and maybe on a new partner for affection and companionship, on family and friends for extra support, and on her children more than ever for love and cooperation.

A man leaves his job because he hates the way the boss and other team members end up in charge of his life. He wants to run his own company independently . Then, he becomes dependent on the vicissitudes of the economy, businesses who contract with him and other customers, his staff and maybe his family for sustenance when the company isn't prospering.

People are dependent on drugs, alcohol, smoking, compulsive food problems, and other obsessive disorders which may be less physical in nature. When they give up the addictive behavior, they gain freedom but still they are dependent on their new, more raw emotions, thoughts and memories that were previously masked by the addiction. They are responsible to live life without hiding and need other people more and in a different way.

The new dependencies which crop up with the abandonment of the old dependencies are often, but not always, superior to the old ones. They may reflect greater maturity, stability and courage, or they may simply be a trade-off of one thing for another. In the case of countries, the new regime may be better or worse. In the case of relationships or jobs, it depends on a lot of factors. In the case of addiction, independence is better.

Independence and dependence are like economics, a trade-off of one thing for another, a balancing act, a series of choices in which it's impossible to have it every which way.

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