Thought Leader Series: Dependence, independence, and interdependence | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: June 21, 2024

The Fourth of July revolves around the idea of independence, but what does it mean to be truly independent? In this week’s Thought Leader Series, we explore the idea of independence with Dr. Ada Gonzales.

On the one hand, dependence involves being reliant on someone or something else. We can be emotionally or physically dependent on a wide variety of things. For some people it’s drugs or alcohol. For others it may be emotional dependence on someone who supported us through a difficult period of our lives. 

Alternatively, independence involves being free from control or reliance on others. Similarly to dependence, there are many ways to be independent. We can be financially, physically, or emotionally independent. However, the reality is that few of us are actually as independent as we would like to believe. 

As we mature, we move through these first two stages of dependence and independence. Early in life we are entirely reliant on our parents or guardians for support. As we age, we move drastically to a craving for complete independence from our parents. This process logically progresses as we move out of our childhood homes and pursue higher education or employment. 

Eventually, however, we move past this desire for independence to interdependence. We form relationships in which we are codependent and acknowledge both the support we give to others and that they give to us. Realistically, although many of us would describe ourselves as independent adults, we are interdependent on partners for emotional and financial stability. We are interdependent on members of our community to achieve a sense of belonging. The United States is infatuated with the concept of independence, but realistically, we are intrinsically interdependent on those around us. 

Although we are celebrating Independence Day, we must recognize that this mutual dependence doesn’t make us weak, but rather strengthens us as individuals, families, and communities. We have strength in numbers that can only be realized through cooperation and empathy for the role we play in each other’s lives. 

Although this year’s holiday certainly looks different, we encourage you to think of those around you who depend on you and who you depend on. Maybe you have young children or support an older relative. Perhaps you yourself lean on a friend or coworker for stability and encouragement. While celebrating Independence Day during this particularly challenging year, we urge you to also find joy and gratitude in interdependence.

Read Dr. Gonzales’ full original article at the link below.

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