|Pic courtesy of Unsplash|
Since I moved back to Kenya, I've been amazed at the variety of conversations I've been having about important things that just never came up before. There's a class I attend Saturday afternoons (class might be stretching it... it's more of a forum for people of my generation to talk about stuff that needs to be talked about), and the theme of one particular Saturday's session was 'Dropping Dependency'. What we spoke about really resonated with me- so naturally, I decided to write about it.
I've had this post on my mind for quite a while, but I wanted to be in the right frame of mind when I finally wrote and published it, and today, inspiration struck.
I think it's okay to depend on others sometimes- depend on objects, depend on people, depend on achievements. But I also think that there is a difference between depending on others, and being dependent. This may just be my interpretation, but I feel like the former involves leaning on others at times when it is necessary to do so, but being able to function by yourself, while the latter implies needing these other objects, people and achievements constantly.
I'm guilty of being dependent. I think that in my case, I try not to depend on other people; but I'm dependent nevertheless.
What's an important factor in dropping dependency? Establishing strong personal boundaries, which tend to also be a byproduct of healthy self-esteem. The higher the insecurities, the looser people's emotional boundaries, and often enough, the higher their dependency is. What do strong personal boundaries look like? Being able to take responsibility for your own actions and emotions, but not the actions and emotions of others.
What are some examples of this?
- Letting bad things that happen to other people affect you adversely. There's a difference between being empathetic and letting others' negative experiences influence you so much that you can't function. In this case, you are taking responsibility for others' actions and emotions.
- Having a bad day, and expecting those around you to tread softly because you're angry or upset, instead of dealing with your emotions productively. Here. you're expecting others to take responsibility for your emotions and actions.
- Letting yourself feel guilty because you haven't lived up to someone's expectations. The other person is demanding responsibility from you for emotions that aren't yours.
Dependency and personal boundaries are correlated. People who have weak personal boundaries tend to be highly dependent, while we find that people who are highly dependent have a desperate need for love and affection, leading to the removal of their personal boundaries.
We all fall somewhere on the spectrum from being perpetual victims (constantly make others take responsibility for their actions and emotions) to being perpetual saviors (constantly take responsibility for the actions and emotions of others). Most of us are more one type than the other, but what we are also changes based on the situations and people we are presented with.
How do we recognise if we have personal boundary issues? Guilt can be a powerful indicator. Do you have people who make you feel guilty for something you didn't feel guilty about in the first place? You need to realise that you can't always meet other people's expectations or influence their feelings. Have you ever felt guilt about taking something out on someone else that wasn't their fault in the slightest?
If there's a boundary issue in a relationship, you'll probably be afraid of the repercussions of making a change in that relationship. Compromise in such a relationship will not be because the parties want it, but it'll be out of obligation. Actions will not be without expectations.
Luckily, once you start to think about these issues, you'll probably recognise them manifesting in different parts of your life and be able to take measures to establish stronger personal boundaries; I know I'm lucky that I did!