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What’s Next for Individual Growth | Memory of the Future Project
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What’s Next for Individual Growth

By Mary Rocamora | January 29, 2009

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Hands holding seedling

“Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone.”

–Margaret Wheatley


After many decades where psychotherapy rose to prominence largely among people who were educated and well-read, examining and clearing out old family patterns became almost a prerequisite to a successful adult life. New standards for being psychologically healthy emerged, reinforced by diluted psychological and “spiritual” concoctions spread in the “New Age” movement. They all actively promoted self-sufficiency as the new happiness crusade.

The value system that has been left in the wake of these cultural influences has promulgated the idea that the less we need, the happier we will be. The less we expect, the fewer disappointments we will face. Besides, emotional needs are particularly suspect in light of the conclusion that needs, as we encountered them in therapy, were the product of something unfulfilled in childhood and are at the root of the dependency patterns hobbling our functioning today. Even after those patterns were cleared out, however, this kind of thinking left many of us self-sufficient in our functioning but stuck deeper than ever in feeling separate, isolated, and reticent about relationships. The belief that needs are bad has inhibited us from taking a hard look at these inadvertent negative consequences of the human potential movement.

As we reenvision our future, we need to consider that humans are fundamentally interdependent. A healthy individual should be redefined as one who grows in primary relationships and seeks participation in a larger community. Many of us that became estranged from our families of origin have substituted families of choice as a concept of community, and there are also communities that have emerged based on other areas of shared values where personal growth has taken on other dimensions. Redefining healthy personal needs should be the first order of business so we can take the next step in our growth by participating in larger communities with purpose and vision.

 

“Consider the following. We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”

–His Holiness the Dalai Lama

 

 

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