October 9, 2013

Even Independent People Can Be Emotionally Co-Dependent. ~ Amanda Kay

We all feel alone sometimes, it’s a part of the human condition.

Some of us, however, feel that way all the time, deep down. When we subscribe to this feeling, it is self-manifesting, such that,when we feel alone, we don’t ask for help from anyone when we need it. This generates a lot of independence but it also affirms the idea that we are, in fact, alone. The cycle might start with asking for help that fails to deliver or a lack of support system in the onset.

It’s one of those chicken or the egg scenarios where it’s tough to know which came first, but the result is the same and it continues to reproduce both the independence in day-to-day life, while fostering emotional co-dependency in relationships with others.

It’s probably easy to see how the independence comes about: nobody’s around to help, so we do everything ourselves and get good at it; pretty straight forward.

The emotional co-dependency side of things is what might come as a surprise.

We often see these successful, busy, self-sufficient people and imagine they are tough as nails on the inside. But it is sometimes the opposite. Being so independent, all the while feeling alone, means that when someone comes along as a potential cure to loneliness, one can be compelled to dive in emotionally. I’ve seen many independent women who are surprisingly powerless in their relationships. It’s often not even personal. They may like the guy, but what they are addicted to is the feeling of connection that fills their ‘lonely boots’, as I like to call it.

There are other ways this can play out in relationships, though. Sometimes, those who are so used to not asking for help, they don’t ask to be loved either.

They are simply out of practice asking for anything.

So these people hold back while they simultaneously hold onto a relationship that is often out of balance (understandably). Friendships also take a hit here because these independent friends sometimes hold back in their friendships too. They don’t want to bother anyone, so they may not call as often and are less involved in general.

One way to at least begin to set back the balance in both our platonic and romantic relationships and to lessen the loneliness is to really make the effort to tighten up our support system, the community which we hand select. Many of us have a lot of acquaintances these days, but as we all move on with our lives at different phases and stages, it can seem like our true friends are dwindling in number. A good solution to this is to think about who we really want to put energy into, whether it is new friends or old ones, and let the rest, well… rest. Then we can start to test the waters and ask for help (nicely!) when we could use a hand. Yes, we could do it ourselves, but life is challenging enough without doing it alone and since we’ll become more involved as friends, they’ll be more inclined to ask us for help too. It is not weakness but strength to collaborate with others. May we continue to be independent, but not too proud or too humble to hold hands.

These greater bonds will act to diffuse the intensity of our loneliness and distribute, more equally, the love we have to give, making us a better partner and friend.

Over time, trust and a sense of community can build and the concept of being alone can be disproved. Breaking the idea of being alone is just as important as breaking the habit that leads to that idea. So aside from asking for help or lending some, we also have to be willing to accept the paradigm shift that accompanies it or else we may go back to our old lonely ways. We often are hard-wired to look for proof of our suspicions, adding up evidence in our minds from our daily lives which seem to prove the theories and ideas we have.

We all love to be right, but do we really want to be right about the bad stuff?

We sometimes can deviate toward negative or paranoid thoughts and trying to gather evidence to prove these ideas doesn’t make us any happier. It lends to a sense of victimization, an excuse out of happiness. Instead, we can use this hard-wiring to our advantage to prove worthy good affirmations that will nourish our feeling of well-being.

It may take some discipline to turn the switch, but if we look for evidence that we are instead supported by a network of people that love us, chances are, we’ll find it.


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Assist Ed: Miciah Bennett/Ed: Sara Crolick

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Amanda Kay