"It is man's social nature which distinguishes him from the brute creation. If it is his privilege to be independent, it is equally his duty to be inter-dependent. Only an arrogant man will claim to be independent of everybody else and be self-contained."
~ Mahatma Gandhi
When two beings depend on each other, an interdependence occurs that's fully natural because, as in all of nature, no single being can thrive alone. In interdependence both parties are mutually reliant, while in dependence, one party leans entirely on the other. A period of dependence may be crucial for children, puppies, kittens and other young to survive, but interdependence is an equally crucial adult developmental task. It's essential not just for a couple but for larger entities as well: for a family or a business, for human society, and for our earth. By tending to your lover, family, neighbors, and the living earth, you're ultimately tending to your own "garden."
Homeostasis, the balancing "wisdom of the body," is key to all healthy interdependent systems, including relationships. It keeps the system's equilibrium, much as healthy bodies keep a proper temperature. Because attachment is so central in our development, we can describe a relationship as though it were a physical body, with vital organs and points of vulnerability. When one of these points is injured--say the "trust organ" or "respect organ"--the entire system might shut down.
Robust systems, relational or physical, correct themselves through both positive and negative feedback. Negative feedback tends to balance systems and positive feedback tends to grow them stronger. When something is wrong in a relational system, negative signals usually grab our attention and call us to reparative action. In a relationship, that's the time to own your part in a problem by admitting your challenges to your partner. But don't forget that it's equally important to build on what's going well, to take time to celebrate moments of joy! For interdependence works only with each member's full participation in the health of the system.
DAILY HEALTHY ACTS
- Take the emotional temperature of your relationship or family today. Are you living in a distressed or sick system? If so, what one action can you take to correct its course?
- When things are going well in your relationship, do you amplify the positive states? How do you do that?
- Are you living in an interdependent system or are you overly dependent? Do you carry your own emotional, psychological, financial, and self-care weight? If you're vulnerable in one of these areas, talk to your partner about it and ask for help in order to keep the ecosystem of your relationship healthy.
CSH - Los Angeles