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Michael Walters Jul 6, 2011

Independence and Interdependence = Balanced Life

I hope everyone had an excellent Fourth of July celebration. For me, one part of the annual tradition for the Fourth of July is to read the Declaration of Independence with my children. Reading the Declaration of Independence gives me the opportunity to reflect on the core values of our country: Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness, Common Good, Justice, Equality, Diversity, Popular Sovereignty, Truth, and Patriotism—to name just a few.

In order for those core values to be strengthened and maintained, interdependence in the society is necessary. That is, both citizens and social institutions need to trust and depend on each other. Yet trusting people and social institutions is not easy. Likewise, for personal wellness to be strengthened and maintained, a person needs to be able to balance independence and dependence on others—interdependence. However, that involves trusting oneself and trusting people in your life.

In counseling, establishing and maintaining a professional relationship are critically important. This involves trust. Empathy, positive regard, and genuineness are the typical relationship skills by which the counselor promotes trust. Likewise, in daily life, these same relationship skills can also apply for developing trusting relationships. As you think about the trusting relationships that you have in your life, I am sure that you will notice that empathy, positive regard, and genuineness are key aspects of such relationships. Ultimately, when a trusting relationship is established, we have the confidence to depend on that person. We believe in that person.

Our parents are the first people in which we establish a trusting relationship. From the beginning of life, we are completely dependent upon them. As we age, acquire skills, and pass through the stages of development and rites of passage to adulthood, we gain independence and trust in our own abilities to depend on ourselves. Yet to maintain personal wellness and mental health throughout the lifespan, it is clear to see that balance of independence and dependence on others is essential. This is especially true in family relationships.

In conclusion, independence provides the opportunity to help oneself and others to be the best we can be through interdependence, the balance of independence and dependence. Yet to be interdependent involves trusting yourself and others. Such trust and balance are essential for personal wellness.

Michael Walters is a high school counselor and a licensed professional counselor. He has a special interest in strengthening family relationships and empowering individuals to reach their goals.

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