Independence and Interdependence Two Sides of the Same Coin

This blog post was written by guest blogger, Dr. Robin B. Dilley. Dr. Dilley is a licensed clinical psychologist in Phoenix Arizona and also the author of In  a Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer.   Her expertise in Affect and Script Psychology with a specific focus on Shame helps her engage her clients in their own healing and empowerment journey. You can follow her at or

Please note that the opinions presented in the article are that of the author and not necessarily the opinions of RHN. RHN chooses to publish articles and share individual sites to evoke discussion and show all options, ideas and beliefs.

Independence is a word that is common in our vocabulary and in the founding of this nation.  However, it is not a word that we give much thought.   First, Independence is a paradoxical word because in reality, none of us are independent in the strictest sense of the word.   A healthier way of thinking about the word “Independent” might be interdependent.  We need each other.  We cannot survive very well without each other.  I am interdependent on my partner, my family, and my work.   Then I am also interdependent on the grocery store, the gasoline station, the cleaners, and these days, the internet.  Yes, I have  lived without the internet for the majority of my life, but if cut off from it, I would miss my old friends that I have reconnected with, the new friends I have met, and new acquaintances that I have never met but enjoy their vacations and thoughts on the world.  My life is richer through the internet.  I feel more connected to the world.  It is an amazing interdependent world we live in.  Thus the dance between interdependence and independence is a dance that can give us a great deal of emotional freedom or restriction.

So, then what is emotional freedom?  Think about emotions as flexible and fluid.   It is not pleasant to have someone download on us emotionally, just because they think they have a right to do so.  It is not okay to unload on someone else either, regardless of how many times we want to tell them that they are incompetent, hard-headed or just downright lazy.  However, many of us are emotionally restricted.   We tend to only exercise one or two emotions, such as anger or sadness. But there are many more emotions that we never get close too, because our emotions are not flexible, and thus we are emotionally limited.

In Affect-Script Psychology there are Nine Biological Affects.   Those are:  Interest, Excitement, Joy, Fear, Anger, Sadness, Shame, Disgust, and Dismell.    ASP  says the nine affects are discreet while emotions are complex and muddled.  In ASP theory we speak of emotions as the biography of affect which ASP eventually referred to as co-assembled scripts.   What I know from being a clinical psychologist is that emotions are at the heart of the complexity of healing.  Often clients are so afraid of emotion their range of affect is restricted or limited.  Or, often he or she is on the other end of the spectrum where powerful emotion is triggered and spills out everywhere and all over everyone.  Neither of those spectrums is very helpful to the individual trying to get through life with a sense of emotion freedom and without emotional freedom we really do not connect with ourselves or each other.

So, let’s say you are really distressed and angry with someone.  If you have healthy affect flexibility you will use the option of direct communication, that sounds similar to this, “I am aware that I am angry at what just happened and that is not okay with me.”  We need to talk about it.  When would that be okay with you?  Now, that sounds so easy.  It would be if the other person would say, “Sure, I did not know that bothered you.  Let’s talk about it tomorrow before I go to work.  I am tired now.”  But of course in real life, the very fact that one person has brought up what another person is doing, is not okay, the affect of shame has entered the picture.   Shame creates many muddled emotions within and between us, that the word INDPEPENCE begins to get over blown and it is common to pull away from the hurting party and declare something like, “I am never going to trust you again.”  This type of independence is also emotionally restrictive and certainly not very helpful.  It is important to talk or speak to the offending party, and let them know that what just happened was not okay and that you are not happy about it.  In this example, independence is clearly in the use of the voice to speak your truth and interdependence in the relationship where you share your vulnerability.   To be healthy you can not have one without the other and that is emotional freedom to do the dance of both-and.



Elana Clark-Faler
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