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The Wholeness Diagram

The Wholeness Diagram

I’ve got two kids. My wife does too. They are the same ones. They couldn’t be more different.

I don’t remember doing anything different trying to raise them. What I mean by this is that I don’t remember doing anything that would necessarily cause them to have such different personalities, interests, goals, and behaviors. But it happened anyway.

I drew this picture about two weeks ago to get my head around how they are so different – it was more of a diagram to tell you the truth. I do that kind of stuff when I’m trying to get my head around big ideas.

I diagram a lot.

In the middle of the page is a circle that is split in two. On one side is the word “Independence;” on the other side is the word “Dependence.” I drew a circle because what I’m coming to learn is that to be whole, we need both.

On the top are the two words: “Connection” and “Confidence.” On the independence side, there is no lack of confidence but there may be a lack of connection. On the dependence side, there is connection but less confidence.

My daughter and I are independents. We like to do things our way, and we don’t like being told what to do. We are confident, which comes in handy sometimes. But there are challenges to being too much on this side.

Along the bottom of the diagram I wrote down two things that I struggle with: “Admitting my weaknesses and shortcomings,” and “Asking for help.” Now, us independents ask for help when there is something we don’t feel like doing – like when my daughter is hungry – she will ask me to get food for her. But this isn’t really asking for help. This is getting someone to do something for you that you don’t feel like doing yourself. Same goes for weakness. It is one thing to say I am weak at something I don’t care much about (like keeping my car clean), but it is different to say that I may be lacking in an area that matters. Keeping silent on these things keeps me from connecting with others.

My son skews to the dependent side. He is connected but has less raw confidence. Along the bottom of his side of the circle I wrote two struggles: “Giving up too early” and “Willingness to try.” These are areas that keep him from growing in the confidence that he needs. He is constantly trying to figure out whether he is good enough and whether or not he has what it takes. He needs the validation of others to answer this for him. And that sets him back.

What we need is both – independence and dependence – confidence and connection. That’s why I drew a circle.

For folks that lean independent like me, I need to become more dependent. How do I do this? I drew an arrow going upward with the words “Humility” and “Vulnerability.” These are my growth areas. I need to admit weakness. Ask for help. Doing this will help me become more balanced and will likely lead to the connection I long for.

For dependent leaners, they need to grow in “Courage” and “Self-Regard.” Doing this will help them gain confidence and become more whole.

Which side of the circle do you find yourself leaning too heavily? Are you an independent that has a hard time asking for help? Are you more dependent and tend to play it safe? Where do you feel the lack? In confidence? In connection?

What would it look like for you to spend some time filling the other side of the circle?

For me, it has meant working on my vulnerability and humility. It ain’t easy. But slowly. Little by little. It’s working. And I’m becoming more balanced and whole.

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Ned Erickson

Ned is the Founder and Executive Director of the Winston-Salem Fellows, a non-profit dedicated to equipping people to live seamless lives as they grow into the men and women they were created to be. He is the author of four books, including the critically acclaimed novel Clay. He, his wife, two children, dogs, rabbit, guinea pig, turtle, and chickens live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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