A Beginners Guide to Dependence


So you want to know more about Dependence? Good to hear. Understanding is the first step in overcoming.

Below, you’ll find a few key points related to Dependence and a brief description of common characteristics you’ll see in Dependent people. This is by no means a comprehensive or complete list. This is just a few key points to help you identify and understand what’s going on.

If you’re ever in doubt, just remember that everything on this page is simply an expansion of the idea that ‘A Dependent pathway is one that relies on elements external to you and outside your control for you to experience what you want’.

If in doubt, ask yourself ‘Am I relying on elements outside myself and out of my control for my experience?’

If they answer is ‘Yes’, then that pathway will present all the challenges that come from not being in control of your experience.

NOTE: This article is being constantly updated as new questions are asked and new examples are found. Please check back regularly to keep updated.


What is Dependence?

Dependence is label used to describe the end of the spectrum of possible ways to achieved your desired experience that relies on elements that are external to you and your sphere of control.

This can be a person (brother, friend, lover, etc…), an outcome (winning or losing), a particular response (laugh, affection, reassurance, obedience, etc…), external experience influencers such as fatty or sweet foods or alcohol and drugs, or anything else external to you and the way you live your life.

For example:

If you want to feel powerful and the way you’re trying to experience power is by getting people to do what you want (which is out of your control) then the pathway you’re following would fall towards the Dependence end of the spectrum.

If you want to feel connected and the way you’re trying to experience is by getting people to approve of how you act and how you dress (which is out of your control) then the pathway you’re following would fall towards the Dependence end of the spectrum.


Category vs. Spectrum

Dependence isn’t a category or label used to describe different pathways, it’s the end of a spectrum that pathways can fall on.

This spectrum runs all the way from completely dependent on external elements for the experience you desire to being able to find your desired experience regardless of how the external environment responds to you.

A pathway can be incredibly Dependent or only slightly Dependent. A pathway can also be incredibly Independent or mostly Independent.

For example:

If you’re attempting to get the permission of everyone around you so you can be free and do what you want then you’re incredibly Dependent on how people respond to you. If you’re attempting to get permission from only one or two people before you start living the life you want then you’re still Dependent, but you’re less Dependent than before.

If you’re attempting to experience power by pushing through your fears and challenging your personal limitations then you’re completely Independent as you can do this regardless of what’s happening around you. If you are attempting to experience power by pushing through your fears and challenging your personal limitations but need someone to do it with you for support then you’re still Independent but less Independent than you were before.


For Better or Worse

One thing you need to be clear on: a Dependent pathway is neither better nor worse than an Independent pathway. You can be very effective at being Dependent on people (for example: a lot of celebrities and sports stars are very good at getting external validation) and fulfilled your desires through that pathway.

You can also be completely ineffective at using an Independent pathway (a lot of people who’ve been using a more Dependent pathway for a long time struggle initially with the transition to a more Independent pathway).

A Dependent pathway simply presents more hurdles to overcome and gives you less control, but it’s not right or wrong. It’s just a different way of doing things.


An Anatomy of Dependence

The defining characteristic of a person following a Dependence pathway is that they are externally focussed. They believe that external elements are responsible for their internal experience and so focus their attention externally.

The amount of focus and responsibility will vary based on how far towards the Dependence end of the spectrum their pathway lies, but they will typically have these common characteristics.

NOTE: Not all people following a Dependent pathway will have all of these characteristics. There are a HUGE array of characteristics that influence a persons ‘style’ of Dependence. This is just a broad overview of different characteristics you can expect to find in a person following a Dependence pathway.

They will:

  • Focus on the external elements that contributed to their failure without acknowledging what they contributed
  • Blame their current life situation on things that have happened to them, rather than the decisions and actions they took
  • Claim that they’ve been treated unfairly and haven’t received the same benefits and luxuries that other people have received
  • Demonstrate how the rules have been stacked against them and explain why that makes their life hard
  • Attempt to justify their personal short-comings by using supposed scientific or anecdotal evidence
  • Find reasons why they can’t do what they want and live an internally rewarding life
  • Justify their lack of action by assigning responsibility to elements outside of their control
  • Collect evidence to support their world view and disregard evidence that contradicts it


Examples of Dependent Pathways

It’s all well and good to understand the basic ideas behind Dependence, but if you can’t identify the behaviours in yourself, then what’s the use?

Here are example of different Dependent pathways to help you get a deeper understanding of the concept.

One thing that’s important to notice is that it’s not the action that defines whether a pathway is more towards the Dependence or Independence end of the spectrum, it’s the motivation behind the action. It’s not the ‘what’ someone is doing, it’s the ‘why’ they’re doing it.

Any action can be taken with a Dependent motivation or an Independent motivation. It’s not the action that’s important, it’s the motivation.

  • Sticking to rules rather than using conscious thought about what they should do to avoid being blamed if anything goes wrong
  • Trying to control people to feel powerful
  • Faking or exaggerating injury, pain, or emotions to gain attention or sympathy
  • Forcing your opinion on others to prove how much you know and how right you are
  • Hiding your opinion to fit in and gain acceptance
  • Changing how you dress, act, or talk to be included in specific groups
  • Attempting to gain approval or permission before taking action
  • Blaming your current life situation on not getting the right chances or getting enough support
  • Pointing out how unfair life is and how poorly you’ve been treated as reasons for why your life sucks
  • Using drugs or alcohol to loosen up or relax
  • Following other peoples life plans because it’s easier and less scary than doing what you really want


In Summary

A Dependent pathway has many different characteristics and manifests itself in many different ways but at the end of the day, it can all be reduced to: relying on external elements or elements outside your control for your experience of life.