Hold on to your sense of self in any relationship, however intimate, cautions RENU GULATI
We are all interconnected; the world operates as one ecosystem and we all depend on each other for the smooth operation of a holistic universe. Dependence, however should not be codependence. What does the word actually mean? It suggests an unhealthy dependence when you lose your sense of self and start depending on another and find functioning without the other, almost impossible. Here is the dictionary meaning for this commonly used term:
‘Excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of an illness or addiction.’
psychology.com says: “Codependency” is a term used to describe a relationship in which, by being caring, highly functional, and helpful, one person is said to support, perpetuate, or “enable” a loved one’s irresponsible or destructive behaviour.
This is an extremely hazardous situation because it can lead to lack of confidence and healthy functionality.
On a higher plane, the loss of self is encouraged as this is a metaphor for the loss of ego. However, this is because in this higher plane, we have dependence on God, Himself. In such a state, one can handle all situations and yet be content in the knowledge that God is the controller of our final destiny. It means that you do your best but let go of the result. In this way, you are neither in happiness or sadness when you get the fruits of your actions.
Within mortal relationships, dependency is fine so long as we keep our boundaries because as soon as we lose them, we become helpless and dependent on the other for our existence.
Such situations are more likely to arise in a relationship where one person has low confidence or self-esteem and feels the need to rely on someone due to health issues or some other difficult circumstances. The other person could be a control freak or narcissist.
These types of relationships are like band aids, and not healing relationships. In the immediate moment, they may seem like heaven on earth, but the end result is usually disease at the level of mind or body.
In any relationship, it is important to keep your boundaries and sense of self intact. Keep track of ones own aspirations and move towards their fulfilment.
In a country such as ours, I have often found plenty of women to be codependent on their men. In many communities, it is almost a norm that women must be subordinate to their men.
In ancient times, it was much worse. There was sati, the practise of giving up her life in a fire sacrifice on her husband’s death. Fortunately, social reformers put an end to this practise.
I have heard from some wise old women that in a relationship, always keep back something of yourself for your own self. This actually leads you to be able to stand on your own feet should the need ever arise.
In the end, we are all born as individuals with different physical, emotional and psychological characteristics and with a unique purpose to fulfil in this world. We all have an innate potential to fulfil and for this, we need to feel empowered and happy. Relationships also require healthy compromises through proper communication.
We are all here to follow our dharma, our eternal duty of non-violence and to bring out the healthy innate potential of others. In this way, society would be characterised by solidarity and harmony – something we all long for.
Renu Gulati is a lawyer from the UK and holds an MSc in Ayurveda from London since 2006. Based in Rishikesh, she consults, teaches and writes in the field of Ayurveda, internationally.
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