Relational living

Life Garage Core Concept

The independent self is interdependent on growing healthy relationships.


You may have heard of the phrase ‘no man is an island’, and it’s true, none of us can be wholly self-sufficient. We all need to rely on others. In this session we will be exploring what it is to do this in a healthy manner.


This healthy balance is often described as interdependence and is contrasted with co-dependence. Although we should also recognise that interdependence is also different to unhealthy independence where people see themselves as solely self-reliant.


  • Interdependence is the recognition that we are our own person with our vision and voice but work this out through mutually respecting relationships with others.

  • Codependence is where our sense of self is defined by a dependent relationship on someone or something else.

Why is it important?

Interdependence is important because it is how we can be fully true to ourselves whilst also not being wholly self-centred. It challenges us to work out who we are in the context of the wider world. To use a technical phrase, it helps us to make the most of our human and social capital by talking responsibility for ourselves whilst recognising the need for the support of others.

How do we achieve interdependence?

Learning to live in healthy interdependence is an ongoing journey rather than a destination which we need to work out in each relationship and challenge we face. We will consider two key tools that will help us: assertiveness and setting boundaries.


Assertiveness is the ability to be able to express our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in an honest and appropriate way.

Setting boundaries

Well set and enforced boundaries prevent other people from controlling us.


Download our free core concept and key tools resource worksheets.

Core concept

Key tools


Additional resources



Co-dependency vs interdependency in relationships


TEDx Talk

From independence to interdependence



Assertiveness for everyday life - Student workbook

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Explore the other core concepts