In an on-line article* a few years ago Melanie Evans wrote: Co-dependency is a dis-ease of being outer-focused rather than being able to healthily detach from people and situations to focus on and take care of Self. Co-dependency is an unhealthy dependency on outer circumstances. Rather than take responsibility for their own lives, co-dependents try to control events and people through granting compassion, advice giving, lecturing, helplessness, emotional blackmail, manipulation, guilt or anger. Co-dependents feel empty on the inside and try to fill this emptiness with things’ outside of themselves. In most cases co-dependents are trying to re-write the scripts of their painful childhoods and will re-attract the same pain over and over. Co-dependents often try to make safe and trustworthy environments with unsafe and untrustworthy individuals and circumstances. In just those six lines; a single paragraph, I find the shortest, most clear glimpse of codependency I have yet to come across. This is especially true of the last line: Co-dependents often try to make safe and trustworthy environments with unsafe and untrustworthy individuals and circumstances.
When there is no enemy within,
the enemies outside cannot hurt you.
Originally posted June 29, 2012
Your interpretations can be made so rapidly and so automatically that you may not realize they are happening. When your emotional reaction is disproportionate to the event, it is likely due to your rapid, undetected interpretation of that event, more than to the event itself. In effect, your emotions can be a valuable signal to you that you may need to re-examine your interpretation. Here are some common examples of self-defeating ways people think about and interpret the events of their lives:
Dichotomous thinking: interpreting events in extremes, in “all or nothing” ways (e.g., depicting events as wonderful or terrible, with no recognition of the grey areas in between).
Excessive personalization: automatically concluding that another’s behavior or mood is in direct response to you (e.g., “She’s in a bad mood. I must have done something wrong.”.
Over-generalization: seeing an event as having more impact, in more areas of your life, than it truly does.
Filtering: magnifying negative events in your life and discounting positive ones.
Emotional reasoning: concluding that what you feel must be the truth (e.g., if you feel stupid, you must be stupid).
Learn to recognize any tendencies you may have to distort events through interpretational styles like these, and then practice choosing and committing to more valid interpretations. The resulting emotions will be more accurate reflections of the events in your life. http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/self-help-brochures/self-awarenessself-care/experiencing-and-expressing-emotions/
I am, indeed, a king,
because I know how
to rule myself.
Our families helped shape our attitudes about emotions, our abilities to identify emotions, our ways of interpreting events, and our ways of expressing emotions. If you are having difficulties in any of these processes and are trying to change them, you may find it helpful to consider what you learned about them from your family. Many people do not recall being taught “family rules” concerning emotions, but such teachings occurred, whether directly or subtly. A subtle example might be where a parent distanced him/herself from you or left the room whenever you got angry, thus indicating that expressions of anger were unacceptable. In other families a parent may yell, “Don’t raise your voice at me,” suggesting a rule against the child’s expressing anger, but subtly conveying the rule that expressions of parental anger are permissible. Identifying your family’s rules can help you change the ways you experience and express your emotions. Some common examples of problematic family rules include:
– Always treat other people’s feelings as more important than your own.
– Never do anything that might cause dissension or negative feelings for someone else.
– Don’t express anger.
– Use anger to get attention.
– Ignore your feelings, or better still, don’t feel.
– Don’t trust others with your feelings; keep them to yourself.
– Never trust your feelings; trust only your logic.
– Be happy all the time.
As a child growing up you may not have been able to experience or express your emotions in ways different than those prescribed by your family. As an adult you have more options, including replacing those rules which are not helpful. http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/self-help-brochures/self-awarenessself-care/experiencing-and-expressing-emotions/
All parents damage their children.
It cannot be helped.
Youth, like pristine glass,
absorbs the prints of its handlers.
Some parents smudge, others crack,
a few shatter childhoods
completely into jagged
little pieces, beyond repair.
The relationships between the events in your life and your feelings are going to be less clear if you have difficulty identifying what you are feeling. Naturally, there are times when you are unable to precisely name what you feel. Identifying your feelings may require you to take time to focus on yourself and your feelings. If you find it difficult to notice or name what you are feeling, it may require that you pay attention to your body. Most feelings are experienced in the body. For example, fear may show up as a knot in your stomach or a tightness in your throat. Our bodies are all different, so you will have to pay attention to your body and not just rely on others experiences. Feelings are also connected to your behavior. If you aren’t sure how you feel, but you realize that you are acting in a way that sends a clear message to others, you may be able to infer what you are feeling from your behavior. For example, if you have an angry facial expression or tone of voice when you are talking with a particular friend, it may be that you are angry or frustrated with that person without recognizing it. Making the connection between life’s events and your feelings is very useful. Continuing with this same example, once you recognize your feelings, you may then more clearly understand and articulate your concerns with your friend. Often your feelings are related to your interpretations of events more than to the events themselves. While it is natural to think that you are responding only to the events of your life, in fact you make interpretations or judgments of these events, and these interpretations play a key role in your emotional responses. When you stop to think about it, each event could yield a variety of emotional responses; your interpretation of the event helps link a particular emotional response to that event. http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/self-help-brochures/self-awarenessself-care/experiencing-and-expressing-emotions/
We cannot tell what may happen
to us in the strange medley of life.
But we can decide what happens in us;
how we can take it, what we do with it;
and that is what really counts in the end.
Joseph Fort Newton
Insight without action only gets you so far. In order to grow, self-awareness and self-acceptance must be accompanied by new behavior. This involves taking risks and venturing outside your comfort one. It may involve speaking up, trying something new, going somewhere alone, or setting a boundary. It also means setting internal boundaries by keeping commitments to yourself, or saying “no” to your Critic or other old habits you want to change. Instead of expecting others to meet all your needs and make you happy, you learn to take actions to meet them, and do things that give you fulfillment and satisfaction in your life.Each time you try out new behavior or take a risk, you learn something new about yourself and your feelings and needs. You’re creating a stronger sense of yourself, as well as self-confidence and self-esteem. This builds upon itself in a positive feedback loop vs. the downward spiral of codependency, which creates more fear, depression, and low self-esteem. Words are actions. They have power and reflect your self-esteem. Becoming assertive is a learning process and is perhaps the most powerful tool in recovery. Assertiveness requires that you know yourself and risk making that public. It entails setting limits. This is respecting and honoring yourself. You get to be the author of your life – what you’ll do and not do and how people will treat you. Taken from an article By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT http://psychcentral.com/lib/recovery-from-codependency/00014956
It’s like everyone tells a story
about themselves inside their own head.
Always. All the time.
That story makes you what you are.
We build ourselves out of that story.
Codependency underlies all addictions. The core symptom of “dependency” manifests as reliance on a person, substance, or process (i.e, activity, such as gambling or sex addiction). Instead of having a healthy relationship with yourself, you make something or someone else more important. Over time, your thoughts, feelings, and actions revolve around that other person, activity, or substance, and you increasingly abandon your relationship with yourself. Abstinence or sobriety is necessary to recover from codependency. The goal is to bring your attention back to yourself, to have an internal, rather than external, “locus of control.” This means that your actions are primarily motivated by your values, needs, and feelings, not someone else’s. You learn to meet those needs in healthy ways. Perfect abstinence or sobriety isn’t necessary for progress, and it’s impossible with respect to codependency with people. You need and depend upon others and therefore give and compromise in relationships. It’s said that denial is the hallmark of addiction. This is true whether you’re an alcoholic or in love with one. Not only do codependents deny their own addiction – whether to a drug, activity, or person – they deny their feelings, and especially their needs, particularly emotional needs for nurturing and real intimacy. You may have grown up in a family where you weren’t nurtured, your opinions and feelings weren’t respected, and your emotional needs weren’t adequately met. Over time, rather than risk rejection or criticism, you learned to ignore your needs and feelings and believed that you were wrong. Some decided to become self-sufficient or find comfort in sex, food, drugs, or work. All this leads to low self-esteem. To reverse these destructive habits, you first must become aware of them. The most damaging obstacle to self-esteem is negative self-talk. Most people aren’t aware of their internal voices that push and criticize them — their “Pusher,” “Perfectionist,” and “Critic.” From an article By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT http://psychcentral.com/lib/recovery-from-codependency/00014956
When you give another person
the power to define you,
then you also give them
the power to control you.
A Codependency is a relationship in which an otherwise mentally healthy person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected by an addiction or mental illness. In Codependent No More, author Melody Beattie asks: “Is someone else’s problem your problem? If, like so many others, you’ve lost sight of your own life in the drama of tending to someone else’s, you may be codependent.” Codependency is the tendency for the victim in an abusive relationship to develop dysfunctional patterns or habits in the process of trying to cope with a family member or partner who is abusive or neglectful or has an addiction. These patterns include denial of the problem, enabling or support of the abusive behavior, poor sense of self-worth, abandonment of personal goals or values and development of controlling or manipulative behaviors. Codependents are generally unsatisfied with the status quo, yet often fear the consequences of trying to make a change, of trying to detach or put a stop to the abuse .Codependence was first described as a problem observed in children of alcoholics, who developed distinctive patterns of denial, shame, avoidance, lack of boundaries, low self-worth and excessive sensitivity to the needs of others in an attempt to compensate for their parents’ disorders. These characteristics often carry over into adulthood and s-called “adult children” often find themselves in patterns of unstable social relationships. The terms “codependent” and “dysfunctional ” originally referred to families specifically affected by alcoholism. However, these terms have been popularly generalized to include any household situation involving a neglectful or abusive family member. Therefore, codependency often describes the characteristics of family members, spouses and partners of people who suffer from personality disorders and other mental illnesses. http://outofthefog.net/CommonNonBehaviors/Codependency.html
Life is not what
it’s supposed to be.
It’s what it is.
The way you cope
with it is what
makes the difference.
Fear and shame result from messages that men are not doing the job – in the work place, or at home. And the job is increasingly difficult to accomplish today, because the man as sole bread-winner is unrealistic in this economy. In a sense, life was much easier for men in the past, when they were simply hunters and warriors. A complicating factor is the male tendency to fear any “feminine” aspect of their personality, behavior or feelings. Men, who are raised predominately by women, are afraid that certain emotions, and their need for nurturance, means they are not masculine. If they are emotionally vulnerable, sensitive, or dependent on others, they feel ashamed and out of control. A man who is shamed by childhood abuse or enmeshment with an overprotective mother may become emotionally hypersensitive and subject to narcissistic injury (any perceived insult, complaints, criticism, or unmet entitlement needs lead to excessively hurt, angry feelings). There are many challenges for boys learning to be men today, particularly in families where effective male role models are not fully available. In too many families, distressed parents are angry, rejecting, or even abusive. The male brain often adapts to these circumstances, and can result in defensive role rigidity, anger and rage. Boys learn during childhood to suppress emotion – for boys becoming men, feelings and their expression can be considered shameful. To complicate this situation, boys are not generally socialized or taught to connect, bond, or develop meaningful, emotionally supportive relationships – especially with other boys and men. Boys are physiologically and neurologically oriented toward action, tasks, and playing with objects – not toward relating interpersonally. Raised primarily by women, boys get most or all of their emotional needs met by women without any required reciprocity on their part. This results in emotional, narcissistic injuries as adults when their needs and expectations are not met. Anger develops as a coping mechanism. William Pollack (1995) says that anger is their “way of weeping” – the way they express their emotional pain. From article by Richard J. Loebl, LCSW, PA http://www.goodtherapy.org/therapy-for-men.html
Children have never been very good
at listening to their elders,
but they have never
failed to imitate them.
Once you understand that you actively seek others out to either cater to you, or to cater to, you can start taking better care of your self, and begin attracting healthier people into your life. Most often two people who have found themselves in habitual patterns of codependent behavior and thinking, cannot make a relationship work. Although it is possible, the constant policing of one another’s thoughts can be maddening. Therapy is extremely helpful in trying to break the thought patterns associated with codependent thinking. Journaling is also a useful tool, because it helps keep awareness alive. In addition it is wise to spend time with people who are free of codependent issues, as they offer the best models for relationships to strive for. If you tend to assume the role of caretaker easily, be wary of those who try to coerce you into roles that require you to take care of others emotionally, psychologically, or financially. Any time someone pushes past a personal boundary you have set, chances are you might be engaging with another codependent. In any healthy relationship, freedom of expression is encouraged not discouraged. If you find you are feeling like someone’s parent in a love relationship, it is best to graciously move on. If you are a taker, own that role and begin to understand it is no one’s job to cater to your emotional whims. It is your responsibility alone to meet life head on and to grow as a self reliant individual. It is not enough to cling to others, and to guilt partners into being in a relationship with you. Decide it is no longer enough to be someone else’s project, and head off in search of your true self. A healthy relationship is one that feels like a great pair of comfortable shoes that feel like they were made just for you. Your feet are just happier in them. When relationships are right, they fit. When they don’t they’re as uncomfortable as a size 5 shoe on a size 10 foot. From an article by Lisa A. Romano http://www.examiner.com/article/codependency-and-how-it-destroys-relationships
with the hope
“out there” can
instantly fill up
Many people confuse hard-working people with workaholics. Workaholism means that you value work over any other activity, even when it negatively affects your health and family, as well as the quality of your work. On the other hand, there are many people who put in long hours, but still give back to their loved ones and enjoy outside activities when they have free time. These people are hard workers, not workaholics. There is a very serious distinction between the two. When work becomes all-consuming and joyless – that is, you go well beyond what’s necessary and have no other interests or activities – it becomes a negative addiction. Workaholics work because they have nothing else to take its place. Their work addiction is a recurring obsession, and typically joyless. These days too many people are being labeled (or labeling themselves) “workaholics” just for putting in a few extra hours per week. The truth is that in this poor economy, many of these people are working extra hard just to keep their jobs. Real workaholics have few (if any) outside interests. They let their family lives fall apart. They often have health problems and suffer from depression and deep insecurities. Like any addiction, they repeat destructive behaviors despite knowing that they’re destructive. Many would like to stop, but find it difficult or impossible to do so. Workaholics should not be confused with people who are simply hard workers, love their jobs and go the extra mile to finish a project. By contrast, a workaholic is someone who constantly thinks about work, and without work feels anxious and depressed. Workaholics are difficult to get along with, because they frequently push others as hard as they push themselves. The evidence is clear that being a workaholic leads to serious physical problems. Don’t risk your life for your job! Seek help and learn to cope with the need to overwork. The key is to understand that sometimes an obsession with your job performance is more than normal hard work. It’s a real – and dangerous – addiction. From an article by Morley D. Glicken http://www.careercast.com/career-news/truth-about-workaholics
Workaholics aren’t heroes.
They don’t save the day,
they just use it up.
The real hero is home
because (he) she
figured out a faster way.