Personal development is a linear progression where we are always striving to better our self. We begin life vulnerable and dependent on our caregivers. We progress to become independent and strike out at the world on our own. As we mature further, we realize that we cannot take on the world alone and learn to become interdependent working in harmony with those around us. The goal of development is to reach a state of interdependence, where we are self aware enough to understand that there is strength in developing strong relations with those around us. This level comes with the self actualization that we are strong to stand on our own but we are wise enough to understand there is even greater strength in developing a community.

Stages of Maturation

So often I see individuals who have not succeeded in leaving the initial dependence stage of maturation. Perhaps their parents fostered this dependency or maybe there is another reason, but these people continue to remain dependent on others. They may be physically dependent and/or mentally dependent on others. Evidence of this is seen in individuals who cannot make decisions for themselves, they are afraid to speak their minds, or to advocate for themselves because they need someone to lead them.

Individuals in the independent stage are functioning on their own. Adolescents in this stage are exploring their options for the future. They are looking to leave the nest and start making their own way in the world. This independent stage becomes a problem when individuals use it as an escape. Often individuals will leave their marriage claiming that they feel stifled or that they have grown apart from their spouse. They focus on their own happiness leaving family and children in their pursuit to achieve what they deem as success.

Individuals who understand the importance of interdependence relationships have realized that standing on their own will never have the same support or strength as interdependent relations. Individuals in this stage understand that a marriage will be stronger if both parties support each other and compensate for each other when needed. This creates a strong bond between spouses and allows growth.

What This Means

Stagnation in the first two stages often leaves people wanting. They want someone to take charge, to take care of them, or are eternally seeking happiness despite the repercussions it has on those around them. Optimal growth leads individuals to self actualization where they understand there is strength in numbers. Interdependence provides support to individuals allowing them the strength to support others and to focus on their own personal growth.

Think of a world where everyone reached a state of interdependence. Individuals would work with one another, supporting the group and lifting everyone up to reach higher levels of success. There would be harmony among people because they wouldn’t be left out or feel abandoned. They would be accepted in a group who would care for them and support them, encouraging their development.

Chances of us seeing a world like this in our life time is slim. But everything starts on the individual level. Individuals who are interdependent will reap the rewards immediately. You will achieve more success and happiness when you are connected to those around you. Start today on your road to interdependence, and find happiness in your future endeavors.

Till then, continue Discovering Your Own Way

Dr. Brennan