Co-Dependent vs. Co-Active

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You hear a lot about “co-dependence” these days.

Co-dependent partners, friends, parents, kids….

The upshot of all the talk around this term?

It’s not really something you want to be.

And sometimes, this can cause a little confusion around another term – one that’s near and dear to my heart – and that’s the word “co-active.”

Though they sound similar, the truth is that the two terms are actually polar opposites.

To be “co-dependent” means that a person absolutely can’t get by without a certain other person. They can’t function. They’re completely dependent on them for their emotional stability, and often for stability in other areas of their life, as well. In this word, the “co” reflects that unhealthy connection with the other.

In the word “co-active,” on the other hand, the “co” means something entirely different. Here, “co” stands for a way of being present with someone else being in connection, being in collaboration. The second half of the word, “active,” is the action we can then take, from that place of being together. 

In a co-dependent relationship, there’s no ME unless there’s WE.

In a co-active relationship, ME becomes the mirror image of the word WE (write it down on a piece of paper and try it!).

That sense of self, of ME, is key here.

In order to be able to have heathy, co-active relationships with others, we need to first get grounded in our own selves, so that we’re able to retain that sense of This is who I am, when we enter into a collaboration with someone else.

If, as an adult, for example, I still have to call my mom 6 times a day and can’t make decisions without her…or if, as a parent, I need my child to succeed in order to feel successful myself…then I’m co-dependent, and not healthy enough to come to WE with my ME whole and well-defined. In co-dependency, there is only WE.

But if I am grounded in who I am, and who I’m being in the world, then I can tap into my Leader Within, and be comfortable enough with myself and my inner-leadership that I can be fully present with another. And if they’re present as well, we can create a co-presencing, a true connection, in which we can work together to co-create a path to take, and determine the action that should follow our collaboration.

Now, am I 100% co-active all the time? Of course not! I’m human, and I’m learning and evolving each day, just like everyone else. One place where I sometimes stumble is in trying to solve my daughter’s problems for her, rather than helping her sort things out for herself. Don’t get me wrong – she often wants me to, and will ask me to please just tell her the answer – but in doing so, I’d be robbing her of the opportunity to make her own mistakes and learn from them.

It’s a really finely nuanced situation where I have to be so conscious of what I’m doing, because it’s so easy to fall into the dynamic of the Drama Triangle – those roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer. She asks for advice, and I give it to her…and then she doesn’t take my advice, and I get upset with her, and she gets upset with me… That’s not the co-active Empowerment Dynamic, and that’s not tapping into my Leader Within.

But if, on the other hand, I am grounded and present and Leader Within when we speak, what comes out of our connection and collaboration is her autonomy, and our relationship’s autonomy.  I bring my being, she brings her being, and we can create in a co-active way. What comes from that is a different energy, a different level of authenticity, resonance, and peace – and whatever action is created in the world is also so much more sustainable and helpful.

As someone who is on the same journey of evolution that you are, I’m passionate about developing myself and evolving consciously. I truly sense that a big part of the reason we’re here on this planet is to learn and evolve, so no matter where you are on the co-dependent/co-active spectrum, growth is always possible. And working towards that growth? That’s living your purpose.

Challenge: Look around at your relationships and ask yourself, where am I being co-active, where am I being co-dependent – and where and how can I stretch?

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