Independence vs. Dependence

As we move forward with this course, you’ll get a better understanding of how you’ve been operating until now, how you’ve been managing your problems, and how you can do all of this in a more healthy and productive way. 

So wherever you find yourself today, don’t lose hope. It doesn’t matter what you did last decade, last year, last month, or even yesterday. What matters is what you choose to do today. And today, you are taking this course to help yourself develop emotional independence. You are taking the first step in interrupting the cycle. 

The fact is that every emotional or mental state is changeable. By nature, they are temporary and fluid. There is no permanent emotion. If you can get the right information and learn the right tools, then you can change your life. You can feel better again. I’ve witnessed multitudes of people do it. I’ve done it myself.

As we move further into the course, you will begin to understand how ineffective methods have kept you stuck on a loop. You will understand why you haven’t been able to move forward. Most importantly, you will learn how to move past them. 

Until then, let’s look at the difference between someone who is emotionally independent and someone who is emotionally dependent. This will offer you a clear picture of what each one looks like. 

Emotionally Independent and Mature Adults:

  • Are aware of their own emotional states, patterns, and needs.
  • Take responsibility for their emotional states, patterns, and needs.
  • Know how to properly manage their emotional states, patterns, and needs.
  • Are able to recognize other people's emotional states, patterns, and needs without taking it personally or letting it affect their own state.
  • Are able to ask for what they need or prefer directly, clearly, and honestly without being passive-aggressive, manipulative, indirect, or overemotional.
  • Can empathize with others without allowing it to alter their own moods and emotions. 
  • Give themselves permission to make mistakes.
  • Give others permission to make mistakes. 
  • Can resolve internal and external conflicts in a mature and appropriate manner.

Emotionally Dependent and Immature Adults:

  • Hold others responsible for their own emotional states, moods, and needs. 
  • Need others to behave/comply to ease their emotional states and moods.
  • Become obsessed with other people’s problems or wellbeing. 
  • Invest far too much of their time and energy into other people’s lives. 
  • Can become manipulative, pushy, aggressive, or like “a toddler” if they don’t get their way. Or they pull away and go silent as a form of punishment.
  • Can’t or won’t communicate their thoughts, feelings, or needs properly.
  • Mentally and emotionally abuse themselves or others for mistakes or shortcomings.
  • Can’t say no to others, can’t set boundaries, and can’t stand up for themselves. Or the reverse where they fight with everyone about everything. 
  • Are distant and disengaged or become too clingy and needy in relationships.
  • Are more likely to procrastinate, be “lazy,” or unmotivated in life.
  • Are more likely to develop depression and anxiety.
  • Are more likely to develop an addiction.
  • Are more likely to avoid social situations with new people.
  • Are more likely to avoid events and people who make them uncomfortable or nervous. 
  • Feel emotionally overwhelmed, overly empathetic, or “sensitive”.
  • Feel stuck or behind in life, as if everyone else is moving forward except them.

Another difference I’ve noticed is that emotionally independent people use their imaginations for their benefit, while emotionally dependent people don’t. In fact, emotionally dependent people use their imaginations to hurt or abuse themselves.

They’re so dependent on other people’s responses to them that they often carry out arguments internally before they even talk to others. They pre-fight with people or they imagine getting rejected. In that sense, they reject themselves in their own minds before anyone else has the chance to do it. Sometimes, they don’t even have the conversation because they’ve already visualized the negative response and talked themselves out of approaching the other person. They also have emotional reactions to their fantasies often allowing it to change their emotional states. They practice abusing themselves by imagining other people doing it. Then, when they do actually have the conversation, they’ve already set themselves up for an argument. 

How many times have you “accidently” slipped into an imaginary argument within your own mind, and then allowed that “interaction” to place you in a bad mood? In reality, you interacted with yourself, but instead of offering motivation or encouragement, you discouraged, abused, or upset yourself. Is it really any more unrealistic to imagine a conversation going well?

Emotionally independent people motivate themselves. They offer uplifting and soothing words during their self-talk. They imagine scenarios going well for them. They imagine other people being helpful and supportive of them. They create cooperation in their minds, not discord. They don’t feed inner chaos; they work through it. 

Perhaps you saw yourself in some of those descriptions; perhaps it’s all of them. Either way don’t judge or shame yourself if you do any of the things listed here. This course wasn’t created to make you feel bad. It wasn’t created to emphasize the problem or shame you for it. The point is to heal and move through these behaviors. In order to do that, we have to acknowledge them. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge.

Maybe you’re having a hard time acknowledging them. Maybe there’s a part of you that is denying some of these behaviors. I encourage you to keep going with this course anyway. Resistance will come up; this is a natural occurrence. You have been doing things your way for such a long time, there will be a part of you that will fight to keep things the same. Not because it’s working, but because it’s comfortable and safe. 

Change can be difficult, uncomfortable, and unpleasant. Emotionally dependent people hate all of those things and have installed habits to avoid them. This is why most are still stuck repeating the same behaviors over and over again. Most won’t leave their emotional comfort zones because it feels uncomfortable to do so. 

If you’re willing to allow yourself to feel uncomfortable throughout this course, you can do some real work in changing these old, unhelpful habits. I believe in your ability to work through this and to heal what needs healing. However, I won’t lie you; it will be a timely process, and at certain stages, it will be difficult. You’re going to come up against your need to ignore or dismiss new information. You’re going to want to fall back into your old habits. 

How you get through the struggles in this course will ultimately teach you better ways of handling future struggles in your life. This course is a training ground for new emotional habits. You grow by doing and this course will help you learn new ways to do it. 

So let’s move on to the next lesson…