Posted by: thealienist | May 9, 2013

Foundations of Mental Health: Dependency

In my previous post, I talked a bit about responsibility.  Unfortunately, many (in the pursuit of excessive responsibility and imagined independence) overlook the health promoting effects of appropriate dependence.  In this post, I would like to discuss how dependence can be effective for one’s mental health and for the mental health of those around them.Dependence has gotten a bad name.  No one wants to have a substance dependence diagnosis.  No one wants to be known as a Dependent personality.  And rightly so.  These are excesses of dependency.  On the other hand, most of us would like to be known as dependable people.  We would like for our friends and family to know that they can depend on us to help them in times of trouble or to be a faithful member of the family.  Sometimes it seems that in our desire to be the one depended upon, we overlook the value of the one who depends on others.

In being an appropriately dependent person, you challenge those around you to become the dependable, responsible people they want to be.  By being thankful for their help, you reward them for their efforts to grow into responsible people.  Gracious dependency fuels a society of caring, active citizens.  But this is only true of appropriate dependency.

Many of us have undoubtedly seen the effects of inappropriate dependency.  People who act as if they are entitled to the help of others.  Those who show no gratitude for the exertion of others on their behalf.  Those who take from others and squander the help they receive.  These people, often unknowingly, produce a cynical, hesitant, and selfish attitude in those who might otherwise grow to be generous with their time, work, and money.

Therefore, I encourage all of us to consider to add to our reasonable responsibility a desire to be foster an encouraging dependence with others.  To accomplish this, it might be good to do some of the following:

1.  Find someone whose personality, talents, efforts, or productivity enriches your life.

2.  Acknowledge openly how this person adds to your productivity, enjoyment of life, courage to face challenges, etc.

3.  Share your successes and share credit with those who support you.  You can keep the credit that is appropriate for the acts you were responsible for, but let others share in your success to the extent that they were responsible.

4.  Do not waste what you are given by others.  If nothing else, sincere gratitude may encourage them to continue their helpful ways.

5.  Be thankful.

6.  Pay it forward.  The cycle of respectful mutual responsibility and dependence is a wonderful thing.

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