Meeting a group of new people I sweat with discomfort worrying the whole time the impression I am making isn’t good. My concern is what thoughts of me they will be left with. Will they think I am dressed ok? Will I express myself in an intelligent way? Will I make others uncomfortable with the uneasiness I am feeling inside or will I successfully hide it? Such circumstances have happened so many times I wonder sometimes if I really know who I am. Is the real me the confident and in control persona I project? Or is the real me only the insecure and unsure feelings that swirl so strongly within me at times? Truth? Probably somewhere between the two. Slowly but surely with great effort I am learning to let go and not worry so much. It’s amazing the difference it makes in how much joy I get from getting to know new people. By enjoying myself more everything about life is better.
The “self-image” is the key to human personality
and human behavior. Change the self-image
and you change the personality and the behavior.
I used to get mad way TOO much, far too easily. I wasn’t angry all the time, but embers of past pain needed little to flame into a blaze. My thinking was it was a natural tendency for me from either heredity or environment and not in my control. Clear in memory is being told numerous times I had a bad temper and needed to do something about it. When one is ‘in-control of being out-of-control” such things are impossible to see. What I know now is the vast majority of my anger was very old and just kept recycling up within me over and over. Like a lion with a thorn stuck in its paw, when pressure was applied the pain came and anger followed that was stored within me form a long, long time ago. Once I began to see my behavior in the present had a lot to do with what was deeply imbedded from my distant past, I was finally able to see and overcome my volatile temperament which was actually a self-protective bad habit.
The more anger towards the past
you carry in your heart,
the less capable you are
of loving in the present.
Barbara De Angelis
When we think we have been hurt by someone in the past, we build up defenses to protect ourselves from being hurt in the future. So the fearful past causes a fearful future and the past and future become one. We cannot love when we feel fear…. When we release the fearful past and forgive everyone, we will experience total love and oneness with all. Gerald G. Jampolsky
Forgiveness does not change the past,
but it does enlarge the future.
He doesn’t know why he is the way he is, and he can’t figure out why he keeps committing the same mistakes over and over again all the while expecting different results. He runs from woman to woman thinking that he will find balm for his wounded spirit. He doesn’t know he’s an image, and he’s totally unaware how his thoughts, experiences and images have shaped what he is today… One unhealthy characteristic of a codependent is that they tend to find themselves attracted to needy people and needy people are attracted to them. Playing the role of a caretaker and trying to fix everyone else’s problems was a codependent characteristic I myself had to deal with. It ruined every relationship I had with women, and it kept me in a perpetual cycle of stupidity. Codependent people are classic image-makers because they have never experienced truly loving relationships. Larry E. Coleman
If you didn’t see it with your own eyes
or hear it with your own ears,
don’t invent it with your small mind
and share it with your big mouth.
It can be difficult to understand how the gifts of love and romance can evolve into destructive, compulsive patterns. Yet for the love addicted, romance, sexuality, and emotional closeness are experiences more often beset with painful emotional highs and lows than gifted with real intimacy or love. Living in a chaotic, sometimes desperate world of need and emotional despair, fearful of being alone or rejected, the love addict endlessly longs for that “special” relationship, his other half, the one that will make him feel complete. He lives in fear of never finding HER, or worse, afraid that when he does meet that special woman he will be found unworthy of love. No matter how clever, how smart, how physically attractive or successful, the love addict feels incomplete and haunted by a desire for partnership that if fulfilled would somehow make life complete. By Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S
It’s so easy to fall in love
but hard to find someone who will catch you.
Advice giving comes to me about as easy as breathing. That does not make it a good thing necessarily because it is my inclination to give it whether someone asks for my thoughts or not. Feeling I can almost always see what others should do does not make my opinion accurate or the best for someone. It was a bit of a shock to learn that giving advice not asked for is a codependent behavior and a form of trying to control others. When someone asks my counsel and I respond with recommendations, that’s truly trying to help, assuming I don’t try to push them toward my guidance (that’s controlling). For a person with issues of codependency the line between giving advice and trying to control is a faint one easily missed if I am not cognizant of my tendency. Often the best use of my advice is to use it on myself!
The true secret of giving advice is,
after you have honestly given it,
to be perfectly indifferent
whether it is taken or not,
and never persist
in trying to set people right.
Hannah Whitall Smith
In retrospect it’s clear my “like me, please!” demeanor of most of my life was a smoke screen for the brooding malcontent I actually was. Nothing was ever just right or good enough, especially about myself. I was never content with anything or anyone, especially “me” for more than a short period of time. Ninety eight things could be just right but I’d focus on the two that weren’t and magnify them to be larger than all the other’s combined. This made me a somewhere in the range of a perpetual “fault-finder” and “defect inspector”. Now some years into codependency recovery it’s clear to see imperfection abounds and to a large degree is what makes the world vibrant. The cracks and off-center parts lend creativity to life and make it interestingly colorful. “I” and everything and everyone around me is far from perfect and can never be “just right”. Thank goodness! How boring and bland living would be if all was the same and all around was nothing but carbon copies.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.
When I was eleven and twelve I prayed to God many times for the abuse from my stepfather to stop. It never did, so I grew up to believe that either there was no God or else He/She/It did not care about me. In adult life, my relationship with a Higher Power have been tenuous at best. My attitude for a long while was “if it is to be, it’s up to me”. I made myself my own God of sorts and felt whatever happened was by my own doing. Many years had to pass and my recovery had to begin before I could even admit the smallest possibility of a power beyond me. Even today I remain skeptical but accept there is something outside of me that is beyond my power to fully grasp and comprehend. Whether it is the power of the Universe, cosmic law or God the Creator does not materially matter to me. What does is believing in the possibility.
The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe.
We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls
are covered to the ceilings with books in many different
tongues. The child knows that someone must have written
these books. It does not know who or how. It does not
understand the languages in which they are written.
But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement
of the books, a mysterious order which it does not
comprehend, but only dimly suspects.
As a child I remember being told to leave a healing scab alone. “Don’t pick at that! If you do it’ll leave a scar” was the instruction of the grown ups. Of course, I didn’t always listen well. I had to learn the hard way if you injure further a healing wound it truly can leave a worse scar than it might have other wise. The same has been true of emotional wounds of my adult life. My habit has been to pick at those hurts over and over not realizing I was making the injury worse and the blemish left behind more severe. Just like a sore on the skin “itches” as it gets better, abrasions of the heart and mind itch as well. But if I resist the urge to scratch, the compulsion passes quickly most of the time and I do no additional damage.
The wounds that never heal
can only be mourned alone.
Helping people I care about is a good thing until lending aid causes me to repeatedly deny my own needs. When giving becomes overly one-sided I am not practicing love, I’m practicing codependence. It’s then without realizing it I am not giving freely but doing things in hope of being paid back for my efforts. The thinking is “if I help you enough then you’ll love me/respect me/help me/want me” and so on. Such an approach is me covertly trying to control the other person. Balanced giving and receiving is an important part of any good relationship. But when I hand over too much and get too little, frustration grows and animosity shows. In time giving too much will cause any relationship to become frayed and torn. Caretaking and helping myself is the first step necessary to being able to help others. Otherwise no matter how good my intentions are I end up eventually with “compassion fatigue” and wallowing in my codependency.
Don’t sacrifice yourself too much,
because if you sacrifice too much
there’s nothing else you can give
and nobody will care for you.