“No man is an island,” wrote John Donne, 17th century English poet and churchman. We are all dependent on our fellow humans, and they are dependent on us. We are individuals with our own unique traits, but we are also tied to other individuals through bonds of family, religion, culture, community, nation, and many other commonalities. Our happiness depends to a large extent on how well we strike the balance between our independence as individuals and our interdependence with others.
Healthy relationships provide a foundation for pursuing common goals. They also give you the confidence to pursue individual interests on your own. Strong, healthy relationships don’t just happen. They require a huge investment of time and effort before they become reality.
Invest your time and heart in relationships with others who are close to you: your spouse, your children, your extended family, your colleagues and your friends. Enhanced relationships lead to joy of living.
The balance between independence and interdependence has become critical in this age of diversity. We all need to learn to make choices that lead us to invest time and effort in building trust, appreciating diversity, and valuing and respecting others.
As Dr. Covey explains: We must first seek to understand people who are different from us before we can expect them to understand us.
Once we understand our own place in this interconnected world, we are better equipped to balance this interdependence with a healthy level of independence.
A healthy understanding of others is impossible unless you have a healthy understanding of yourself. Healthy independence requires a good relationship with yourself. A good relationship with yourself enables you to cultivate good relationships with others. It is an inside-out approach.