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Independence in our daily lives: what it means, and our daily struggles to achieve it

Posted Jul 02 2010 12:00am

The fourth of July is coming up and my mind is flooded with thoughts of independence .  Webster’s defines independence, in part, as: not dependent, not subject to control by others, self-governing, not relying on something else, not looking to others for one's opinions or for guidance in conduct.  

Personal struggles for independence are essentially what keeps people like me working.  It's natural to want control over our own world.  Kids are often ungraceful in their attempt to be independent; "No, that's mine!" shouts a toddler;  "I told you I would clean my room.  Just get off my back," whines a surly teen. 

Adults have their not so great version of striving for independence, "I'll clean the basement next weekend.  I promised my buddies I would golf this Saturday." remarks a guilty looking husband.  "I can't do everything around here.  I need some help," cries an exhausted Mom.

These daily struggles for independence take myriad shapes and forms. Disrespectful tones in kids, teens breaking curfew, couples fighting, workers missing deadlines, a desperate need to start a new career, many versions of the relational tug-of-war of 'I'll do it my way'.  Not to mention the hundreds of wars on our planet, with countries fighting to retain their definition of what makes them who they are and how they want to do things.

Independence is a good thing.  We all need control governing our own selves.  Each person has the right to define who they are, what they do and develop a life that works best for them.  However, interdependence between people, which is the fuel for basic human connection, is an important lubricant for healthy living and longevity.  It's good to rely on others.  It's important to find the sweet spot of Independence vs. interdependence. 

Let's love ourselves enough that our search for independence is achieved with minimal conflict and our reliance on others feels like a warm blanket wrapped around our shoulders while watching fireworks light up the night sky.

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