Do life with others.
It’s a great concept. I live by it. I want to share life with others. I want to help and invest in others. But it’s important to always do so with health.
Teamwork is important in relationships, work, school, church, and community. We rely on each other. We have different strengths and skills. We need each other. We solve problems together. We generate new ideas together. We collaborate.
But there’s a difference between collaboration and codependency.
Codependency is most often used to identify the unhealthy behavior that purposefully or inadvertently supports someone’s unhealthy behavior. It doesn’t simply happen in marriages and families or among friends. It happens in organizations and communities where there are patterns to improve upon. It can be devious or manipulative in an effort to hide harmful behavior, but it can also be much more subtle. Someone at work might not be willing or able to pull their weight. Instead of acknowledging and communicating it, trusting the team to help while they’re in the process of learning and embracing their role, they might deflect responsibility. They might take credit when they can attach their name to something yet distance themselves when something goes wrong. And other team members might carry the burden, sometimes because they feel they have no choice because of the irresponsible person’s position but other times because they want the organization to grow. They want to be part of the change to make things better or at least minimize the ill effects.
Shifting from codependency to collaboration isn’t easy, but it can be done with intention and health. It’s often gradual, because we have to confront unhealthy patterns. People who have hidden behind the codependency don’t like the change that will expose their issues. And they might not change. That’s often not the goal or the focus. It’s often easier to focus on blaming an individual and making the solution all about them, but it often distracts from any systemic issues and solutions. The focus is to foster healthy collaboration. It will require some new patterns and solutions. It will require honest conversations and clarity. Some attempts will fail, but a failed approach doesn’t assume a failed process.
Healthy collaboration is worth the effort—and it starts with healthy individuals.