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Dependence vs. Independence vs. Interdependence


Today I want to discuss three levels of maturity that can heavily affect how successful we are in everything we do.  This bit of wisdom from Stephen Covey and his book, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.  In his book, Mr. Covey identifies three levels of maturity that play a large role in how successful our lives can be.  Let’s look at these three levels of maturity and how they relate to our success.


We start out in life as an infant, completely reliant upon our parents or guardians to provide for our every need.  We can’t do anything ourselves.  We need the basics or we will not survive.  Though this is a physical dependence based on maturity, we also have our emotional or mental maturity.

If someone is not emotionally or mentally mature, dependence can be seen as, “you take care of me”; “you need to be there for me”; “you weren’t there for me”;  or “it’s your fault”.  People who are dependent are always reliant on someone else.  They even get their sense of worth from others.


As an independent person, we can pretty much fend for ourselves.  We can take care of our physical needs and can make it on our own in life.  From an emotional and mental perspective, we have our own thoughts, ideas, and plans.  We know what we want and can make a plan to get it.  Emotionally our sense of worth is validated from within.  We don’t need to be liked to be confident.  We are strong and don’t need anyone to validate who we are or what we are doing.

To reach independence is great,  it can be a major achievement, but it is not the top level of maturity we can reach and should be striving towards.


This is the top realm of maturity.  This is a much more mature and advanced level than just being independent.  This is the level where we understand we can get a lot done by ourselves, but we also realize we can get much more done working together.  This is that old concept of “1 + 1 = 3”  and “two heads are better than one.”

Working together, we can get farther ahead in life faster.  Emotionally, our sense of worth comes from within, but we also recognize that we need love and interaction with others.  We need the giving and receiving of love in order to be complete.

Interdependence can only be achieved by an independent person.  A dependent person doesn’t have the maturity or character to ever reach interdependence.  

Final Thoughts

Maturity helps build character and character helps you reach maturity.  Though we start out in life very dependent, both physically and emotionally, we have the capability to become independent, and if we try, interdependent.

I know this may seem like obvious stuff, but have you stepped back and taken an inventory of where you are in life?  Are you emotionally stuck in a dependent or independent state?  Do you rely on others for your sense of worth and happiness?  Do you feel like you can do it all yourself and you don’t need anyone?  If any of these are true, I challenge you to work on yourself.  Identify the mindset change, the paradigm shift you need to make to reach the next stage of emotional and mental maturity.

Success is available to everyone if we just have the emotional and mental maturity to reach for it.

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