Independence Part 4: Interdependence

In my previous blog posts we have covered what independence is, the irony of it Co-dependence and now we are covering interdependence.

If we want to be independent but we can’t be truly independent what are we left with.  The answer is interdependence, which is mutual dependence.  A friend of mine got confused with the terms when they thought co-dependence was interdependence.  The difference between the two is that co-dependence is over dependence or reliance on someone else and it’s not necessarily mutual.  Mutual dependence means that  you assist one another in becoming independent by supporting the other person or people where dependence is necessary.

I think a great example of this is in a good working community where everyone understands each others strengths and weaknesses.  For example there are two people one is a middle aged man the other an elderly lady.. The  gentleman  is extremely good at gardening but can’t so a button after his wife died, the elderly lady is no longer able to garden due to arthritis in her knees but she can still sew.  The man who can do her garden will equally be supported by the elderly lady’s ability to sew some trousers or buttons on a shirt. It could be that the elderly lady can teach the gardener to sew themselves and the gardener can show the elderly lady other ways to garden independently without bending down, this could mean the gardener can landscape the garden so there’s very little bending involved, or only have a garden with trees or hanging plants in.  This kind of example could be practised in other ways throughout the community.  A parent who has a car can give a lift for someone who doesn’t have a car in exchange for baby sitting duties.  If the person getting the lift was a teenager they can be taught to drive by that parent and the teenager can assist the parent on maths or IT if they are at adult education classes.

I personally think one of the reasons why so many people rely on welfare or rather have to rely on welfare is that the notion of community has largely disappeared in our modern world, although I believe it seems to be desired.  I know that churches and organisations are setting up projects within neighbourhoods, towns and cities in the UK in an attempt to address this shortfall.  But one of the reasons this is not happening is probably down to trust, can we trust someone to assist us who we barely know?

The place to start I think is in the family unit and try and extend the interdependence model outside of the family unit.  If your not a part of a family unit try and join a community project where your skills and strengths can be utilised and also get support for the things that you need support with, or the things you can teach others.

Now one important thing I want to address, disabled people are the ones that are often seen being the ones that need help, but apparently have nothing or little to offer, this is nothing further from the truth.  Many disabled people are crying out to be integrated into their communities, they have an awful lot to offer, life experience, flexibility, problem solving skills and that doesn’t account for the many other things.  Many of the disabled people I know are more than willing to give to their communities and some have had the opportunity to do so, one of my visually impaired friends, runs a choir for children in their community for instance.

So in conclusion look out to help others and be mindful of the fact that others are willing to help you, but don’t become dependent on people and do things not expecting anything in return no one likes people doing things for ulterior motives. But if someone has helped you in the past be sure to find ways of supporting them in return somewhere down the line, hopefully they weren’t looking for anything in return. Let’s hope we can learn in the future to find ways to not fear to depend on one another without becoming users or becoming over dependent on people. Not to be afraid of asking for help either, knowing that we may be able to do something in return in the future.

I hope this blog post and my others have given people food for thought.  My next blog post will be the last post in this series it will be on coping with losing independence as a result of illness or disability and how to adjust,


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