The Relationship Dance: Integrate the Gift of Emotional Independence

By Laina Orlando


All relationships are sacred dances. In some, you lose yourself. In some, you find yourself. In some, you are yourself! This cycle starts, innocently enough, with your first relationships, which are usually with Mom and Dad. As a child, although you are born innately happy, you learn at a very young age that your parents’ happiness is your responsibility. Before you even learn to talk, you discover that Mom’s mood swings are tied to your behavior. And if you run in front of the TV, at the exact moment the Patriots score the winning touchdown on Super Bowl Sunday, you can be certain that Dad’s anger is your fault. This teaches us that we are never responsible for how we feel. When we’re responsible for each other’s feelings, unconscious relationships are formed.

Once you are responsible for how others feel, and vice versa, you gradually lose touch with your ability to self-balance emotionally. Patterns of unhealthy dependency begin to take precedence over your own emotional independence. This will render you unconscious to the fact that your emotional well-being is always within your control. For this reason, you will expect others to modify their behaviors so you don’t have to be responsible for sourcing how you feel. The reverse is equally true, blurring the boundaries necessary for sustaining healthy relationships.

Inevitably, codependent and emotionally manipulative relationship patterns will only yield what you most desire to avoid: unhappiness. This is because, try as you may, you can’t source someone else’s happiness, and they can’t source yours, because emotional balance is an inside job. The upside to unhappy relationships, however, is that when explored consciously, they serve as the very catalyst that can assist you in integrating the gift of emotional independence.


To reclaim your ability to be emotionally independent, you must become curious and courageous enough to ask: Why is it that my emotions change when so-and-so does whatever it is that they do? This question is the first step toward becoming aware that how you feel is completely independent from what another person does, feels, or thinks about you. No one has the power to activate another’s emotions, let alone make them happy or unhappy. Master Teachers, for thousands of years, have encouraged the Personal Liberation of Self and Others!

At first, this realization will leave you upset and disoriented, because you are practiced at being emotionally codependent. However, with willingness and practice, you can reverse the unhealthy patterns that stand in the way of what you most desire to experience—happiness! Think about this: when you believe you are responsible for another’s happiness you lose the freedom to be authentically you!

Please note that as you begin to take full responsibility for your happiness, those who are used to participating in the codependent dance with you will feel upset and disoriented when you leave them unattended on life’s dance floor, because they won’t realize what you have discovered. Think about this logically: you didn’t know what you didn’t know until you began the courageous process of self- awareness. Kindness, compassion, and patience are called for here, which are natural expressions of happy people.

Once you are aware of this internal phenomenon, you can gladly assume full responsibility for witnessing how you allow, or disallow, the arising of your own happiness. As with anything that you desire to master, committing to the ongoing practice of witnessing your happiness arise or recede allows you to choose between happiness being self-sourced or an unconscious reaction to the behavior of others. And here’s the cool thing: once you master being emotionally independent, you will not only feel emotionally balanced, but your intimate relationships will become healthy, happy, and a glorious dance!

Inspired by her own awakening, Laina Orlando simplifies spirituality so it’s easy to understand and practical to apply in everyday life. Her mantra is: “Life is fun and easy!” Laina is an author, speaker, Awareness Coach, and creator of The Power of Awareness program and The Awareness Academy.