In this sub-unit we deal with the delicate topic of getting away from dependence patterns and develop true and lasting interdependence with others. This transition is for many people a matter of constant hurt and strife, and therefore assumes particular importance in every single process of personal achievement.
Become Independent and Response-able
To relate in a sane way to others, I must have built a sufficient amount of independence. Why? If I am fusioned with others, I lack the distance to have space and to give space for individuality. Therefore, our first step in personal evolution is to become interdependent and responsible (response-able).
The topic of dependence, independence and interdependence is often overlooked in power training, and it’s a tricky matter. I have dealt with this problem quite extensively in my self-help books.
My opinions on the subject which grew during many years of personal and scientific work is shared by many professionals today. But initially it was an avant-garde position in the years during which I found the solutions to my personal problems through the methods I developed and that now are the core of my human skill training. Now human skill trainers tend to have some basic knowledge about these questions, whereas formerly these topics were the exclusive domain of psychiatrists and psychologists.
Stephen Covey, in his 7 Habits is very outspoken and clear about it. He states that success in relationships is impossible if we cannot make it from dependence to interdependence. The interesting point to note is that Dr. Covey, unlike many others, does not say we just have to develop independence, but well interdependence. Indeed independence is the transition phase between dependence and interdependence. Let’s make the point what we are talking about here:
- Dependence: Fusioned with others
- Independence: Disconnected from others
- Interdependence: In flexible exchange with others
Fusion is extreme dependence. There are forms of living which require it. The human baby is indeed so dependent on the parents, especially the mother, that we talk about postnatal symbiosis. However, if things develop normally, this fusion or symbiosis should gradually take an end and develop into independence and autonomy. When this happens, later the adult will usually develop into natural synergy with others, and build the most creative form of relationship: interdependence.
However, many of us are stuck somewhere in this process of maturing. Most often because the primary fusion with the parents was inhibited in some way or was emotionally charged with negative feelings, we carry into adulthood sequels of our primary fusion.
This means that there is in us a secret need for fusion with others. We try to get very close to others to a point that the borders between the You and the Me dissolve, or, if this is not possible, we tend to reject the other and feel abandoned or rejected ourselves.
Harmonious adult relationships are impossible when one or both partners of the relationship are stuck in dependency. This is valid for the private sphere, and especially marriage, but also for business relationships and our relationships with employers, employees and colleagues.
I can’t point out the complex details of this matter here. What we can do is to retrace the way that our development should take. Please be assured that all what has not been done during our young years can be done later. There is no limit to learning. We can push our evolution at every point on our life’s timeline. It does not mean that we have to get back into the past in order to do it. In evolutionary terms, all is always present!
The work that I propose you to do in order to solve pseudo-symbiotic bonds is to start with observing your self-talk, giving others freedom in positive prayers and visualizing yourself having nurturant relationships that are mutually respectful. Gradually the old fixations will vanish. This can be done without any therapy. The only thing that is important to maintain is a serious and honest attitude towards yourself and others.
The second point is to analyze the moments when you get into power-struggles. Power-struggles are futile discussions, one-to-one or group interactions where you or the other person more or less consciously try to overpower each other, while each of you attempt to increase self-power to the detriment of the other’s power.
This is something so common in our times that most of us are totally unaware of it. We often feel exhausted or insecure after such kind of interactions. We may also feel anxious and uneasy. Either we feel hurt or uneasy because we hurt another and want to apologize. What is the missing piece in these relationships? Peace.
And power struggles inhibit personal growth.
They often cause relationships to stagnate or break off. They destroy trust. They affect negatively our emotions. They trigger psychosomatic disease such as ulcer, cancer or deep depressions. And this both in our personal or our professional relationships. Awareness of the problem leads, if we are responsible at all, to immediate and total action.
- avoid power struggles at any price;
- play the superior part in offering support for understanding;
- develop pro-activity to build trust and security all around you;
- help the other who is stuck to overcome negative emotions.
Before I will deepen each of these points, I would like to recall how strongly Dr. Covey emphasizes in his 7 Habits the necessity to work on responsibility which he called, very creatively, response-ability.
Our ability to respond to others is dependent on our degree of personal evolution, our freedom from getting stuck in power struggles. The more we are dependent, the more easily we react. The more we are free and interdependent, the more we proact. Proacting means that we have some kind of inner space for reaction. This space gets larger and larger the more we have developed creative acting in relationships.
Human beings display various responses to events or circumstances and tend to behave in unpredictable ways under emotional stress. However, we possess the inner freedom to respond consciously instead of being driven by our emotions. We do not need to follow instinct like an animal. We are not conditioned to this point. Although we are conditioned in some ways we’ve got the conscious power to change this conditioning so that it’s more in harmony with the universal laws which are also the laws of success.
The necessity to avoid power struggles is vital. Relationships in which there is power struggle can’t develop into a level of high synergy where the energies of all partners merge into an x-times higher form of power which will produce new and astonishing results. It is absolutely essential if we want to develop effective teams that we previously deal with the issue of power struggles.
In my work with groups I have seen that inherent power struggles are the one and major point why teams fail, why groups cannot develop creative team activity. If there is only one person in the team who is out to control the others, the whole group will suffer from it. Except the group that has consciously developed the delicate control issues and solved it. It will react proactively to the one disturber and give him or her the chance for positive evolution helping to identify that person’s control problem.
If the person does not want to change over a set period of time, the team will dismiss the person because of the destructive impulses that risk to endanger the synergy of the group as a whole.
Being proactive means to play a superior role on the stage of personal interaction. It means to offer support through empathic communication, understanding and clarity on words. This does not mean to always play the ambassador. At times it is more appropriate to put things clear and take the masks away. However, it should be done in an empathic way so as to respect the other’s vulnerability and self-esteem.
Having someone losing face is by no means appropriate to help that person develop their communication or relationship skills. So all depends on the way we handle the problem. In relationships we have to observe the rules of tact and the usual conventions. To be honest and clear does not mean to act counter to those conventions or to be tactless.
When we empathically relate to others, from our heart level and not only from our intellect, we establish a security in the relationship that creates the pathway to treat even the most delicate issues.
If this security, this trust has not been built up, it’s not possible to deal with such issues without endangering the relationship as a whole.
Helping others to overcome dependency is not easy. It namely requires that we previously have dealt with these problems ourselves, that we have identified our hang-ups and found creative solutions to them. It means we must have done some personal work.