As we’ve experienced unprecedented political events in both the UK and the US over the last year, I’ve had the feeling of emerging from a fuzzy, confusing mental cocoon into a field of clarity and connection. Perhaps like Dorothy uncovering the Wizard of Oz and getting home again, it feels like a veil of obscurity clearing from the mental plane.
Through this veil, I have felt at times like I’m witnessing a game of peek-a-boo played between digitized faces and two-year-olds who don’t yet understand object permanence, reacting to each image as if it’s the eternal truth. Or else I feel the energy of pubescent adolescents angrily asserting their mental independence from all others as we push, condemn, and withdraw into isolated boxes.
We are struggling for mental independence because we fear dependence.
And yet the potent field of mental interdependence is calling us and yields a world with loving, wonderful creations.
Dependent, independent, interdependent
A simple, yet elegant, model of development that I have found helpful is the idea of three stages of development: dependence,independencey, and interdependence. We can look at our physical development, our emotional development, our mental development, our material development, and our spiritual development through these lenses and see where we developed and where we are still expanding. This is a powerful model that brings us compassion for our journey and a sense of delightful adventure about what comes next.
I’m right, you’re wrong
In the dependent stage of mental development, we are blank slates, following the ideas of our parents, teachers, and environment. What we see and hear is what we believe. Our ideas are dependent upon those we are exposed to and live with.
When we move into the independent expression of our mental capacities, we discover the freedom of having our own ideas and opinions. This is a vulnerable time that needs respectful dialogue and the space to explore. However, often we are met by others’ mental walls and end up with a model where there’s only right and wrong.
There’s a flow of our physical and emotional needs being met that impacts our mental development. Some of us overcompensate at the mental level to handle emotional trauma. Others of us stay mentally dependent as we put energy into other areas of development.
We aren’t meant to stop at the level of independence, and indeed some struggle here depending on our social and educational structures and our wounding at prior ages and levels. However, eventually, we hear the innate call to expand and move into the delicious plane of interdependence.
A whole new world at the interdependent view
The mental stage of interdependence feels very different from the first two stages of dependence and independence. Our individual, and collective, physical and emotional worlds are developing so that this interdependency is now possible. I have a taste of what’s possible and while I am still limited by my own mental walls and emotional reactivity, I can feel and imagine this place of curiosity, wisdom, and discernment where our ideas and thoughts skillfully play together in an open, undefended field of delight.