My dog, Cassie, and I went for a six mile run yesterday, and when we returned, I reached down to take her sweatshirt off. As I reached for her head, she began to urinate on the floor. Let me explain. She is very submissive and has mostly outgrown this quirk of submissive urination, but there are still times when she reverts.
Of course I immediately made her go outside to finish her business, but mentally I kicked myself because I had forgotten to remind her to “go potty” before we left for our run or after. How does her action become my responsibility you might ask? Because I have trained her to listen to me, and she is like a forever toddler. I must remind her that she needs to “go potty” because she has no idea that we may be leaving for a long car ride or an extended run. She just is. She lives in the moment with no concept of time.
This incident, however, made me think about how my little dog is totally dependent upon me. She cannot feed or water herself. She may find something in the garbage if she were to get hungry or thirsty enough, but generally, she is completely dependent upon me for everything.
At that moment, the idea of dependency flung itself upon my mind and I came to realize that when I forget to make her do something, it’s my fault – not hers. She obeys me. If I mess up, she messes up. I also realized that dependency is a lot of responsibility.
Dependency as it applies to humans runs the risk of creating individuals who cannot think for themselves. Micromanagers create employees who cannot express their creative styles or make simple decisions on their own, parents raise children unequipped to deal with the complexities of life, spouses create partners who cannot function after the death of the dominant partner. All of these dependencies sprout from an unbalanced relationship where one individual always leads and one always follows.
Dependency is unhealthy when taken to an extreme. When we create relationships in our lives where we leave no room for another path besides our own will, we set the anchors that forever tie others to us in a dependent way.
Instead, we should practice empowering others in our lives – employees, spouses, friends, parents, children. Let them make decisions; forgive them for their mistakes as they learn. Encourage creative thinking and zealously reward their tentative steps as they begin to gain confidence in their own abilities. Give them the space and the power to grow, and you will discover how free you become by setting others free from you!