Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Okay, I admit it, I had fun at the Olympics. I didn’t want them, didn’t vote for them and thought they were a bad idea but, having been through them, I’ve changed my mind. This is not to say that we couldn’t have spent the money, perhaps more wisely, on things like health care, education and social housing but, with all due respect to these issues, Vancouverites, at the very least, experienced a morale booster – even if just to chase away the February blues. In fact, I have never seen so many happy people in one place for so long a period. And that is something to be celebrated.

When I talk about codependence, whether in presentations or workshops, I use the Olympics as an example that we live in a codependent society. I suggest that all levels of society tell us to get our needs met by looking outside ourselves. It is not whether we feel good, but whether we look good, get the good grades or promotion, and, in the case of government, did the Olympics come to our city? Remember when Vancouver was “going for the bid”? We were bombarded with images of hope that implied we would be a world class city if we got the Olympics.

My question is, weren’t we already a world class city? Didn’t Expo 86 already prove that? How many events do we need under our belt until we gain “international respect”? Do we really have to look outside ourselves for validation to respect and feel good about who we are? Wouldn’t it be better to gain this respect through prioritizing the care of our citizens: promoting health and welfare, local art and culture, and being a responsible custodian to the environment? In other words, whether we are talking about the identity of a city or an individual, shouldn’t one look first within; practice good self care and be satisfied with the internal or self-validation that the manifestation of this self care provides?

While I still agree with these sediments, Olympics 2010 taught me something about the extremism that codependence can sometimes manifest. One of the main default patterns my codependent parts fall into is to look at things in black and white terms. In respect to the above commentary, one could narrow that perspective down to the following: Any acceptance or reliance on external validation is a sign of codependent behaviour. Self-validation should be complete in itself. But is that true?

Self validation – feeling intrinsically good because of who we are and not what we do—is a healthy aspect of interdependent living. While we should not rely on external validation and recognition, these aspects are a complement to a healthy lifestyle. Before the Olympics, I felt good, internationally speaking, about who I am as a Vancouverite. I was not arrogant or shy about it; but I knew and appreciated Vancouver’s strengths and vulnerabilities and its role as a Canadian city. The Olympics, however, helped me see some of the things I was missing in my self-evaluation. I saw my city, and the people within it, through the objective eyes of the world and felt pride. Yes, we have many things to improve but I went away from those two weeks with a greater appreciation of my Vancouver-self: I feel stronger, more cabable and have a deeper sense of my role as a global citizen.

Codependent or not, the Olympics may have been little more than a morale booster but that little external validation went a long way.


  1. As a former "Olympic Wannabe" I understand the joy of being a part of team Canada and the pride it instills. Although I never made it to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics, the feeling of being a part of it all was infectious throughout Canada. Getting recognition from the world for what we have in Canada fosters a sense of belonging and community....maybe this will be what it takes for our pride to spill over so we care more for each other, our environment and all that is needed to improve what we already have. Hail the co-dependence the Olympics inspired!!!