What Is Codependency?

What Is Codependency?

What Is Codependency?

 

Ok, ok, just what is codependency? It’s a question I hear a lot.

Codependency is essentially defined as an unhealthy attachment to a person. It’s a “dependency” on another in a way that’s not really very healthy.

It is a term that came out from the recovery movement years ago, where counselors began to notice that on the opposite end of an alcoholic or addict was a partner or family member that had certain “characteristics” that weren’t all that healthy. 

And, as such, the addict and the partner were “co” dependent upon each other in an unusually unhealthy dance.

codependency recoveryCodependency is a state of “dis-ease” that many experts believe stem from some sort of childhood abuse or neglect. Or maybe from living in a family where addiction or mental health issues were present in one or both parents.  

The dysfunctional personality traits a codependent person displays as an adult may likely have been formed while growing up in an atmosphere that did not have appropriate emotional boundaries.

For me, that meant growing up in a home with an alcoholic father and a mother suffering from clinical depression and anxiety disorder. 

What is Codependency? The textbook definition:

“Excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one with an illness or addiction who requires support” or “a dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.”

On a broader scale, codependency is something that affects everyone on the planet to a degree.

⇒ It is the programming that’s gone into the subconscious mind over the course of a lifetime. 

⇒ It’s the code that’s been written under the radar.

⇒ Or, for the biblical perspective, it’s that carnal nature gone wild, having lost sight of God’s perspective of us.

Whether it’s Jack and Jill, who live in the suburbs with two kids and careers that rock or Mike and Mary, who are the classic narcissist/victim combo, or Jane and Veronica, the alcoholic and the enabler, codependency characteristics exist in people and relationships across the board. 

Why? Because at the core, codependency is an unhealthy attachment or separation from the true self. 

It’s you disconnected from YOU at your core and God.

It’s an absence or a lack of self-love, which affects the way we interact with ourselves and the world. In other words, it’s you being even just the slightest bit “dependent” upon another person for you level of happiness or peace.

Basically, a codependent person is acting out an addiction. He/she is trying desperately to soothe a deep wound that formed during childhood.  Just as a drug addict tries to fill that void with drugs, a person suffering with codependency tries to fill that void with love and approval. 

They NEEEEEEEEEED love and acceptance from another to feel good about themselves. Their self-worth is found in external dependencies, like people, money, looks, etc. and not the internal.

People pleasers, over-givers, energy vampires. You get the idea.

You can be codependent on a partner, parents, friends, or even you children.   How do I know?  I’ve been right there on the front lines and I assure you it can destroy a relationship quickly or cause a relationship much dysfunction and heartache.

How Codependency Affects People

According to a leading codependency expert, Pia Mellody, a codependent person cannot do five things:

  1. Cannot experience the appropriate levels of self-esteem.
  2. Cannot set appropriate boundaries.
  3. Cannot own their own reality and has lost a sense of self (disassociation)
  4. Cannot deal with adult dependency issues regarding needing and wanting
  5. Cannot experience reality and emotions is moderation or healthy ways. May explode or not feel at all.

codependency recoveryIf you can identify with these characteristics, I want to assure you that there is hope for those struggling with codependency.  As with any “issue” it can be your downfall or it can be a new beginning.  Any problem or addiction can be a doorway to self-discovery and healing.

Codependency causes you to look outside for fulfillment.

If you have codependent characteristics, you have spent much energy trying to use something outside of yourself to fill a deep-seated wound or void. This wound could be shame, guilt, anger, feelings of abandonment, and so much more.

You feel empty, confused, very alone, and afraid.  Over time you have discovered that “people” make you feel better.  Their attention and love soothes your wound.  A codependent mother bases her life around her children in an unhealthy way. She bases her whole identity in being a mother and loses herself in the process.

A codependent lover is addicted to her partner and approval is CRUCIAL or he/she will end up in a downward spiral fast.  One negative look or word can cause so much drama in a codependent relationship. At the same time, a codependent person may not even be happy in the relationship; she may feel trapped in an abusive, controlling relationship, unable to break free.

She is powerless to change things up or get out.

What is Codependency in Relationships?

When you fall in love, there really is a chemical high that occurs. It is euphoric.  If this is healthy, it creates a healthy attachment, which is good.  But this high does not last forever as we all know.  Healthy relationships can continue to function well after the high ends, as the attachment is healthy.  For someone with codependency characteristics, when the “high” goes away, the “crazy” comes out.

Codependent people may obsess and pretty much drive their partner away.  Sometimes this occurs quickly and sometimes partners’ last years in this awful cycle.  For the codependent person, there is a serious fear of abandonment, jealousy, the constant need for attention (which if you don’t get can send you into a tailspin), a victim mentality, control, manipulation, stalking, and more.

Codependent people may seem very together on the outside, but on the inside they are most assuredly not.  Over time, as the disease progresses, they will hardly be able to function, their thoughts will be negative, they will typically not have any friends, and their sense of purpose will fade. 

They may isolate and wrap their whole life around one person and as they do, their needs go out the window. They don’t know how to take care of themselves because they are desperately trying to take care of everyone else.

I’ve been there. Lived through it all and now I write and speak about it. My recovery involved a lot of inner work; a journey back to “me” and learning how to really love myself and reconnect with God.  It’s a journey I’m still walking. I still ask myself once in a while, “Ok, what is codependency for me? How is it still affecting me?” And, I take it from there, asking for clarification. 

Wounded souls everywhere

The way I see it, there are a lot of wounded souls walking around and many of them are looking at others to soothe and heal the pain, but the truth is that we must be the ones to recognize our wounds and then take the necessary steps to begin a journey of healing and growth. Others can play a role, but it is NOT their role to “fix” us.

Psychotherapists talk about digging through layers to get to our childhood days and address the root issues there. Priests talk about original sin and encourage people to ask for forgiveness there. Shamans talk about journeying back to find the original prints (even if it’s in a former life) and healing it there.

As you can see, there are various ways to look at the roots of codependency, but most point us in the direction of going back and contending with something from our past in order to get free.

So, moving forward I want you to start thinking about your relationship issues and contemplating how your present issues probably don’t have much to do with your partner or object of dependency.

No. They’re simply a “pawn” in your life that trigger things in you that you have the opportunity to heal or work on. That boyfriend or husband that is driving you crazy or hurting you over and over is in your life for a reason and it’s not necessarily about him; it’s more about you and your life journey. Your spiritual journey.

We’ll get more into the spiritual views regarding codependency in another post. For now I just want you to begin to digest this truth:

“You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.”  Brene Brown

I don’t know about you, but hustling for our worthiness gets extremely tiring.

What is Codependency Recovery?

There is codependency recovery help for you if you feel like you have codependency traits.  Many people have found hope and freedom through therapy 12 step recovery groups, support groups, spiritual counseling,and more.

I am a firm advocate of mindfulness meditation, prayer, and a personal relationship with your Higher Power for codependency recovery. There’s no magic pill, dear ones. Healing and recovery takes time, discipline, consistency, an inner journey, and patience. 

Take some time to learn about codependency. Read, watch videos, share, talk with others, etc. This is your recovery journey, and my hope is that you define yourself less by coda characteristics, and more from the TRUTH of who you really are at your core. Here’s a link to a page I’ve devoted to Codependency Recovery Resources. There you’ll find wonderful books, videos, and links to coaches and counselors who can help you.

CODEPENDENCY RECOVERY RESOURCES

 

“For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal.” God

We Are Enough ~ Sacred Codependency Recovery

We Are Enough ~ Sacred Codependency Recovery

What Are We Here For?

 

Codependency is a popular term, but it’s outdated.  It’s oftentimes misunderstood.  And, some people go throughout life thinking they have this “condition” that will always be a thorn in their side.

I’m a firm believer that we are not “codependent”.  I believe codependency is a style of relating that many people picked up in childhood – an unhealthy style of relating.

This website aims to teach about “co”-dependency, or what I like to call “outer-dependency”.

Essentially, I mean relying on things “out there” to give us feelings of worth. Of value. Of feeling loved. But it’s not “out there”, dear ones. It’s “in here”.  It’s within, and if you’re struggling with characteristics of codependency, then it’s time to embark on a fresh journey within. 

It’s time to turn to the sacred you – and a holy God- where both of you work toward healing emotionally so you can really get on with your life being fully present, abiding in peace and joy.

What Are We Here For?

Good question, huh?  I still ask myself this question at times. Am I here to work my butt off and make a lot of money? You’d think that’s the goal when you watch people work themselves to an early grave.

Am I here to suffer?  Well, pain is going to come our way on this journey, but we’re not here to just suffer. In fact, Jesus said we will experience trials and tribulation, but be of good cheer, for Jesus came to show us a way to transcend emotional suffering.

And, according to Buddhist philosophy, our purpose in life is to help end suffering.  As humans, we experience suffering at times, largely because we try so hard to hold onto things, people, etc. and let’s face it: those things don’t last and can let us down.

The Buddha taught that attachments (unhealthy attachments, as in codependency) cause suffering, and he dedicated his life teaching people how to free themselves from such attachments, and serve humanity in love and compassion.

So, What Are We Here For?

Well, there are hundreds of answers to that question. Your task is to discover the answer for yourself. Your task is to walk your unique, sacred path taking the time to grow closer to your Creator.

God’s got YOUR answers, so commit to the practice of daily prayer, meditation, sitting in silence, and so on.  This is where the healing begins, for codependency, “outer-dependence”, and suffering in general.

I firmly believe that God’s Presence and Power is greater than we can even fathom. It is this Power that I believe in and look toward to support my life. To support our emotional healing and well-being.

We didn’t come here to solely struggle. We came to learn valuable life lessons and help each other out along the way. 

This website and my work is my contribution to humanity, sharing with others key lessons that I’ve learned along my journey. Take time to dig in and if you need support, simply reach out. 

Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind
    finds life itself—glorious life! Proverbs 21:21

 

 

 

Codependency Recovery Is Important

Codependency Recovery Is Important

 Codependency Recovery is Important

 

I commend you on your patience and persistence to continue to explore your issues and get familiar with the main triggers of your codependent tendencies. And, progressing in your codependency recovery, begin to implement a set of healthy boundaries to protect your mental and emotional integrity 

You’re doing great, but you may not out of the woods yet.codependency recovery

Now that you’ve regaining some control over your life, (regardless of what others are or aren’t doing) and you’re feeling better emotionally, how can you maintain this sense of well-being in codependency recovery?

As you probably know from your own experience, codependency characteristics don’t just magically disappear and are gone forever.

How I wish!

It’s more like a roller coaster ride. Up one week and down the next. You may think you’re trigger free, but I encourage you to be on the lookout regularly for any sign that indicates the presence of codependency infiltrating your relationships.

In other words, become consciously aware of what’s going on in your relationships.

Otherwise, you risk falling back into some old, dysfunctional habits.    

Codependency Recovery Is Necessary

 

The topic of codependency recovery is huge.  Google it and there are MANY tips and tricks to eliminating codependency. 

I have mixed reviews about whether or not “curing” codependency is possible. Yes, I do believe anything is possible when you mix the right ingredients. However, from working with people and from my own experience, I see codependency recovery in terms of progress, rather than seeking a “cure” or perfection.

There’s one thing I know for sure: I fully believe that we can learn how to have better and more fulfilling relationships all around – with ourselves, with others, and with God.

Now, your recovery from codependency will depend on various factors and quite honestly, your effort.

Generally speaking, if you decide to take a stand against your codependent tendencies, you have several options. You can:

1. If you’re in a relationship, team up with your partner, and through collective effort, you work toward healing yourselves emotionally and therefore, reshaping the entire relationship. You work toward transforming it into a healthy and functional one.

Now, when I say “work”, I’m hoping that you in your codependency recovery, you are working on emotional healing recovery on various levels. One being working with a good therapist over a period of time. And, outside of therapy, building a strong support network via friends, support group, etc. and a deeper spiritual connection with God.

I can speak for my partner and I that working with a counselor individually and as a couple has helped us a lot. We still have triggers or old wounds that are in need of a deeper healing, and we’re not afraid or ashamed to reach out for help from an expert in the field when we need.

2. If you’re single, you’ll do the same thing as far as “doing the inner healing work”, but you won’t have a partner to “practice” with. But you can surely practice with family and friends. You work on you. You take the time single to discover who you are without a partner. Become more confident. Look to yourself and God for your worth and level of happiness.

This way, you’ll be better prepared emotionally when you do meet that special someone.

At the same time, if you choose to remain single, you’ll still be able to practice with friends, family members, and so on. Codependency marks all kinds of relationships – not just intimate ones.

3. If you’re in a relationship with someone who could care less about “doing the healing work”, then you can still embark on your own codependency recovery journey. Your partner may come on board at some point and work with you. Or, your partner may not have a host of emotional issues to work on. Either way, you focus on you and let your partner deal with their side of the street. Down the road, as you progress in your recovery and healing, you’ll be able to better determine how to address the relationship and/or your partner.

The reality is that plenty of relationships don’t work out because one or both partners aren’t willing to “do the work”. I see this with those who are in a relationship with someone struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction. They want to begin working through their dependency issues, but the partner wants no part of it, making it quite challenging to experience relational transformation.

That can lead them to a place where they choose to deal with codependency all by themselves.

Of course, you can always give your relationship a second chance, but if things don’t improve over a certain amount of time, you may be better off making the break and focusing on bettering your life solo in for a while.

When in doubt, consider discussing how your codependency recovery might look with a trained therapist.

The Stages of Codependency Recovery

I tend to break codependency recovery into four stages.  Here is a general overview:

  1. ACCEPT AND BE WILLING – Stage 1 involves honestly looking at your life and accepting the reality that you’re in need of some emotional healing. You honestly look at your relationships. Your lack of self-worth. Your separation or disconnect from yourself and/or God. In this stage, you’re making an intent to begin a new journey in your life, willing to look at your past, and do the inner healing work to create a better future marked with better, more fulfilling relationships with you, others, and God.

     

  2. CREATE A BLUEPRINT FOR HEALING – Stage 2 involves a lot of learning. You begin to learn about codependency characteristics, identify yours, and begin to lay a blueprint for growth and healing. Just as the contractor will draw up a blueprint as to what kind of home they want to create, you’re drawing up a blueprint as to what kind of life you want, including what kinds of relationships you truly want.

    This stage is full of education, so you’ve got to put some time into learning about things like attachment trauma, God’s plan for relationships, how you’ve become dis-connected with yourself and God, the human condition, toxic shame, inner child healing, and more. 

    3. BUILD A STRONG FOUNDATION. Stage 3 is when you really start digging so you can build a strong foundation for healing, preferably under the guidance of a therapist. You’re learning quite a bit about codependency recovery and here’s where you get to start putting what you’re learning into practice. You’re learning a lot about self-care here, including setting boundaries, identifying wants and needs, and cutting ties with those toxic people. As you learn to really tap into what you want and need, you get to begin practicing your boundaries here, refusing to enable or people please any longer. You’re becoming stronger.

    4. BUILD BETTER RELATIONSHIPS. Stage 4 involves you building new, healthy relationships.  It’s time to venture out and seek out those who have a healthy relationship with themselves (over those who are selfish, emotionally unavailable, narcissists, or in active addiction).

Those that will treat you as if you are worthy…. (BECAUSE YOU ARE) You may find new friendships in plenty of places. Join a gym, take a class, go to a support group, etc. If you feel overwhelmed, just focus on one new friendship or strengthen a current healthy relationship.

Now, it takes effort to strengthen a relationship. Invest in those people who can and will reciprocate time and energy. Those that value you and love you unconditionally. Those that essentially have a healthy relationship with themselves.

These four steps are a road map where you can learn about codependency and work toward codependency recovery or emotional healing. It will take time and effort to really do the work, so make that commitment and just keep moving forward. If you need help, please reach out. You don’t have to go at this alone!

 

Setting And Keeping Boundaries: Part 1

Setting And Keeping Boundaries: Part 1

Setting and Keeping Boundaries

 

“My husband has been using pills for almost a decade. We have two kids together and I’m tired of being the one in charge of everything.  I’d been putting up with it alright until last month when I got a call from the cops in the middle of the night. Apparently, my husband got pulled over high as a kite with our son in the car with him. Then, last weekend I found him passed out in his own vomit. I lost it.  Sent him packing to his mom’s house and thought I feel bad, I don’t care. With him not here, I can breathe a little bit. If I’m gonna feel single, I may as well BE single. This morning I started getting text trying to make me feel guilty. He’s telling me if he goes off the deep end it’s my fault. It’s always my fault somehow and I know it’s not true, but part of me just worries. Should I have kicked him out? Have I abandoned him? How should I proceed?” – Anonymous

Up until now, we’ve explored the nature of codependent tendencies, its origins, and ways to spot the telltale signs of codependency. This critical part of the codependency recovery process allowed us to get a better understanding of the issues we’re working with. Now, based on what we’ve discovered about ourselves, we can now focus on dealing with codependency-related problems.

Whether your codependent characteristics tend to manifest in the context of friendships or romantic relationships, there’s one technique you can learn to really nip this in the bud. To be more specific, you can reduce codependency characteristics by learning how to set and keep clear boundaries and limits, regardless of how close you are to a person.

Boundaries, boundaries, and more boundaries. You want to cultivate healthier relationships? Become bada$$ at setting and keeping boundaries.

Let’s explore what it means to set clear boundaries and how this strategy can lead to healthier and more stable relationships.

What are personal boundaries?

Personal boundaries are guidelines or rules that you identify based on your wants and needs, that are reasonable ways others are to behave toward you. 

Right from the start, we notice that this definition revolves around one person – YOU.

It is YOU who must set guidelines or rules, and it’s YOU who must decide an appropriate response when other people cross the line.

This is you, dear one, being in charge and taking full responsibility for your life.

Ever hear the saying, “People treat you how you let them treat you.”

Well, that’s very true.

To set personal boundaries means to separate our personality from that of other people with whom we interact on a regular basis. It means to recognize, accept and express our own uniqueness, while allowing others to do the same.

In the absence of a set of personal boundaries that we communicate in a sincere, kind and healthy manner, our day-to-day interactions would be characterized by conflicts, frustration, and misunderstandings.

I know I’ve experienced that and it’s no fun.

You can tell a lot about someone based on the boundaries they’ve set or not set.  Boundaries reflect one’s self-worth.  If you have adequate boundaries, it means that you value and respect yourself.  If you don’t have boundaries set or let others cross the ones you do have, you devalue yourself and it can leave you feeling pretty crummy.

When a boundary has been crossed, don’t you feel uncomfortable? Angry? Sad? For example, let’s say your partner has just gone through your phone reading all of your texts and starts harping on you about this and that.  You automatically feel like your space has been violated- and it has– and at that point you’re faced with making a decision.

Do you just start defending yourself like you’re on some sort of trial? Do you get angry and yell obscenities? Do you run and grab your partner’s phone and throw it out the window?  (Oh, that would be tempting.)

Your partner has crossed a boundary. Your phone is none of their business.

“But they’re my partner!”  So? That doesn’t give them the right to invade your privacy.

You must set that boundary and stick to it. Let your partner know that you’re serious and crossing boundaries can be a deal breaker. 

Remember, what you want and need matters. And, having some privacy matters.

Communication is key when it comes to setting and keeping boundaries.

Another example is how someone speaks to you.  Constructive criticism is not a bad thing, but if the tone is nasty or rude, it is not alright. If you deal with this, you can say something like:

  • “I understand what you are saying, but I would appreciate it if you would speak in a respectful tone toward me.”
  • “I am not quite sure why you are speaking to me in that tone. I don’t appreciate it and I’ll not allow it.”

I know a woman who was married, and her husband had a son from a previous marriage.  One day they were all going somewhere, and the boy jumped into the front seat of the car, expecting my friend to sit in the back.  Her husband supported his son sitting up front and had no problem letting her squish into the back seat.

My friend was not kosher with this. She wanted to say, “This is not alright with me. I am sitting up front”, but she didn’t. She told me that when she got into the back seat, her blood was boiling. She felt very devalued.

On multiple occasions, she told her husband that she was not comfortable sitting in the back seat, but he simply told her she was being unreasonable and overreacting.  He said calling “shot gun” was fun for him growing up with his siblings.  She bluntly told him, “I am not your son’s sibling! I am your wife and an adult!”

It didn’t help. She tried to stand up for herself and tried to set a boundary to no avail.  I was very angry inside when I heard this. I wanted to go and give her husband a piece of my mind.  He would never have his mother or aunt sit in the back seat, so why his wife? He valued his son’s desires over his wife’s desires and in doing so, disrespected her.  She eventually stopped bringing it up because she didn’t want to deal with the argument that would come as a result. She just slipped into that back seat, growing quite resentful.

I told her she had every right to sit down with those boys and set a firm boundary with her husband and the son. Spell it out clearly.  His son needed to learn that women ought to be respected, and ladies sit in the front seat- not kids. Unless, of course, the woman is alright with this arrangement, but I dare say most women wouldn’t like it.

That marriage did not work out. Eventually, she grew tired of setting boundaries that were ignored, and left. It took her a while to gain enough courage to leave, but she did. She took a stand for herself, realizing that her wants and needs really do matter.

Listen, you have a right to stand up for yourself and express what makes you feel devalued.   You have a right to say when something is not acceptable to you. You have the right to say no and draw a line in the sand. And, you have the right to leave if you are not heard or valued.

Boundaries begin in childhood

Typically, people start setting boundaries during their first childhood years. By interacting with our peers, we quickly learn that some people are more permissive and welcoming, while others are more strict and rigid. We weigh the pros and cons of each alternative and decide our boundaries based on our own needs and other people’s responses.

Also, our parents, teachers and caregivers often intervene in this process (or so they should), helping us find healthy ways to satisfy our needs and desires without violating other people’s freedom.

During adulthood

As adults, there are no more teachers to mediate the relationship between our peers and us, and no more parents to run to when people cross our limits. In this context, we can either drift towards a codependent relationship where our partner becomes a ‘savior’ who protects us from outside threats, or we can set our own boundaries and be our own ‘saviors’. Be our own hero!

Choosing the second path means you’ll have to embark on a challenging, but extraordinary journey. YOU get to learn how to set boundaries on your own. Others can’t do it for you.

The process of setting and keeping boundaries will be your personal journey, your responsibility, and your achievement.

The biggest myth about boundaries

Before we dive deeper into the topic, let’s debunk one of the most popular myths about personal boundaries. There’s a significant number of people who believe that having a set of solid personal boundaries is equal to being rigid, inflexible, intolerant and/or adamant.

It’s true that some people might label us as ‘rigid’ simply because we don’t want to endorse or follow their selfish desires, beliefs, and attitudes, but we must consider the reason why we choose to adopt this behavior. We don’t do it because we enjoy being inflexible. We do it because we want to protect ourselves from something that may damage our physical or mental integrity.

Also, having a set of clear personal boundaries has very little to do with selfishness or rigidity. It’s more of a balance between taking care of ourselves (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) and respecting other people’s right to express their originality and freedom.

In the end, it’s not our boundaries that create tension, but how others choose to interpret them.

People who say that setting and keeping boundaries is a sign of selfishness and inflexibility usually struggle with their own codependency or narcissistic issues. Maybe they don’t like the idea of you not being available for them 24/7, or maybe they’re afraid that you’re contemplating the idea of leaving them.

In the end, never forget that the most important person in your life is YOU. This means that, regardless of what others might think, your personal boundaries should be your number one priority.

Now, we’ll learn more about setting and keeping  healthy boundaries in the next lesson.

Prayer:

“God, please teach me how to set healthy boundaries, and actually keep them. Help me identify my wants and needs, and express them in healthy ways.”

 

 

Let Go Of Your “Not-So-Good-Enough” Self

Let Go Of Your “Not-So-Good-Enough” Self

 Let Go Of Your “Not-So-Good-Enough” Self

 

None of our childhoods were perfect. Sure, many of us had good childhoods with loving parents.  But perfection in the way that all of our wants and needs were met?

Nah. Didn’t happen.

So, we grow up with some wounds. Some emotional feelings like sadness, anger, and shame.  In fact, shame is a feeling state that plagues society, especially here in America. It’s also been around since the time of Adam and Eve when they ate the forbidden fruit, and ashamedly hid from God.

I’m not talking about guilt. Guilt means you feel bad about something.

Shame means YOU feel bad. Flawed. Not good enough.

Now, as we commit to this emotional healing journey as we live out our lives on planet Earth, we must continually assess whether we’ve got wounds to heal.  Whether we’ve got yet another wound or deeper wound to work on, because there tends to be layers.

And, healing comes in stages. It’s a process and as you probably know, change takes time. Changes occurs in stages.

Not Feeling Good Enough Stinks

So, this feeling of not being good enough. It sucks. It ruins a lot of peoples’ days and drives their partners and spouses cray-cray.

  • “Ah man, nothing ever works out for me. I suck at this!”
  • “I’m such a screw up!”
  • “Things will never be as I want them to be.”
  • “Great. Rejected again.”
  • “Everyone always leaves me.”

You ever think or say those things?

If so, chances are you’ve got an old wound or wounds knocking on your door asking you to notice and get busy with another round of healing.  You’re overidentifying with a feeling of shame.  And, as those negative thoughts run in your subconscious, you’re actually attracting people and circumstances that will affirm those thoughts!

Now What?

So, you know you’re feeling not good enough more than you want.  Now what? How do we go about healing this?

You keep learning. You stay on the codependency recovery path.  You assess, apply what you learn, and get up if you fall. 

I’m going to give you some helpful tips right now to get you started on dealing with this feeling of not being good enough. Then, the next article will introduce you to your “inner child” and “inner child healing”. Don’t be freaked out. “Inner child” is just a concept used by therapists to help people heal emotionally. And, it’s very effective!

Now, regarding this feeling of “not being good enough”, here’s some helpful information to help you heal that wound.

  1. Understand that this part of you isn’t the real YOU.

These thoughts, which lead to emotions or feelings…. are not the real you. Not the core part of you. Not the spirit part of you that’s an extension of God. (which is the real you, by the way).

No, this “I’m not good enough” part of you is a belief system that was created in your psyche somewhere along your life journey, and when you can start to look at that “false” part of yourself, you’re on the journey toward healing. When you start to face that part of you, you’re treading forward on the hero’s journey!

  1. Feel it to heal it

If a bat got into your house and was flying around, wouldn’t you do whatever you had to do to get it out of your house?  You might open all the doors and windows and try to get it to fly out. You might swat at it and try to kill it, which I don’t recommend. Or, you may stop freaking out, realize that the bat is not a predator trying to kill you. It simply flew into a nice, warm dwelling and is all confused, flying around like crazy.  It wants out too! So, you could calm down, open all exit ways, and prod that thing out of your home.

Maybe this isn’t the best analogy, but I want you to see that you are not your feelings of “I’m not good enough”. That part of you isn’t out to destroy you (though it might feel like it at times). And, you can relax and prod that part of you out of your inner home.

How?

Feel those feelings.

So many people run from negative feelings. Some people numb them through alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, food, etc.

But to heal such faulty feelings or emotional states, research states that you’ve got to actually re-feel those feelings in order to begin healing them. (More on that in additional articles)

  1. Start piecing together your history

To really begin feeling those feelings, we will start piecing together your history to start poking around to see how you picked up those thoughts or beliefs. We start looking at your memories, your family history, the stories you’ve been telling yourself (and maybe others) about your life.  We start looking at reality and getting very honest.

This is what occurs in therapy.  You go back and talk about your childhood or traumatic events.  You get in there and “do the work” or remembering, sharing, and getting really honest with yourself.  Even if you don’t have an incident specific traumatic event, you most likely still have some chronic stress that you had to endure.  Maybe you were on “fight or flight” mode all throughout middle and high school, always on high alert. Maybe Mom and Dad fought like cats and dogs and you walked around on egg shells from the time you could walk.

Don’t think that doesn’t come back to mess with you later.

Some people deal with feeling their negative emotions via meditation.  This can certainly be helpful. A wonderful book to read that can help you work on your healing the “not good enough self” is The Presence Process by Michael Brown.

GREAT BOOKS ALERT:  The Presence Process by Michael Brown

  1. Let the “Not Good Enough Self” go

I heard one therapist say in order to heal emotions, you need three things:

  • Trust
  • Talk
  • Tears

In your healing work, you will come to stage where you will say goodbye to that part of you. It might not be as easy as you think. I know you’ve lugged that part of you around for many years.  But, I assure you that with some practice and perhaps some accountability (like a good therapist), you’ll be able to do this.

You’ll be able to stop telling the stories of your awful childhood or that traumatic situation. You’ll be able to live more in the present and be excited about your future. You’ll feel less inner rage, anxiety, and depression too, because those types of emotions feed on that “not-good-enough” part of you.

And then, once you say goodbye to that part of you, calling back your AUTHENTIC self. Tapping into your true spirit….the one God created you to enjoy….

Who will you be then?

How will you show up then?

Does this scare you? Who are you without identifying with that wounded self?

Now, this does frighten some people. They’ve become quite comfortable connected to that “not-good-enough self”. They’ve gotten used to their comfort zone or the darkness that comes along with being in the shadow.

I remember days wondering who I was as a “good enough” person. I remember feeling anxious and scared, feeling as if any minute that “not-good-enough” part of me would pounce on me, eager to get back into center stage.

But rather than freak out, how about remembering your commitment to growth – personal and spiritual? How about reminding yourself that peace, joy, and well, better things show up when you can ditch yet another layer of the “faulty emotional belief system”.

  1. Invite God’s grace to help

You might need some help. I know I did. Invite God’s grace (unmerited favor) in. Ask whatever your Higher Power is for help. You need to get through something? The storm of the shame? The grief of those unhealed wounds?

Do your part (which is your inner healing work) and ask God to help you with the rest, because God is the master at revealing to us our true nature – our spiritual nature that has been born of God! That expansion of God (yes, we came from somewhere, right?)!

Shame announces us guilty or lacking, but God announces us redeemed and pure. Full of potential.

Bet and believe there’s some peace, joy, and adventure on the other side of shame, dear friends. There’s a different reality than the one you’ve been hiding away in.

Shame or the “not-good-enough” feeling, is a human emotion that is among the more destructive. It can cause us to numb out, shut down, eat our feelings, lash out in anger, pick up a stiff drink, or run for the door!!!

I’m thinking of my relationship at times on that one! (“Where’s the door? OMG, I can’t breathe. I can’t do this!!”) Oh, come on, I bet some of you have thought those same things. (wink, wink)

These feelings of shame have got to go. I’m adamant about continuing to learn how to overcome shame and build a mighty high fortress against it.

So, as you continue to do your emotional healing work, here are some helpful tips and resources to check out. Remember, we’re diverse. What works for me might not work for you, so go within and see what you resonate with. I once did a sweat lodge, hearing a bunch of hoopla about how amazing it was for healing.

I lasted 5 minutes.  It was crazy H.O.T. I like to sweat, but I thought my heart was going to bust out of my chest. I learned that a sweat lodge was not my path to healing real quick.

So, let’s recap what I’ve mentioned:

  • You are not your wounds.
  • You can learn to let go of that not-good-enough self. (Inner child healing is one way we’ll discuss)
  • Understand that this part of you isn’t the real YOU.
  • Feel it to heal it
  • Start piecing together your history
  • Actually let it go
  • Invite God’s grace to help

We’re in this life together, and my hope and prayer is that we can all get to the place where we can be free from that “I’m not enough” part of us that keeps us stuck in the mud. We can rise feeling GOOD ENOUGH, because we really are! 

I know we’re not perfect, and it’s not perfection we’re after. But we are after the TRUTH.  We are after authenticity. We are after being able to show up for ourselves and others as loving, faith-filled people who are emotionally whole enough to rise and shine God’s kind of love in a world that desperately needs it.

So let’s.

XOXO

P.S.

Here are some Getting Rid Of Shame Experts & Resources. Be sure to check them out to learn more about overcoming shame.

Brene Brown
Marsha Linehan, PhD      
Kelly McGonigal, PhD      
Ron Siegel, PsyD
Joan Borysenko, PhD      
Bill O’Hanlon, LMFT
Stephen Porges, PhD
Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT  
Peter Levine, PhD 
Bessel van der Kolk, PhD  
Pat Ogden, PhD 

 

 

Codependency: A Sacred View

Codependency: A Sacred View

Codependency: A Sacred View

 

“Codependency? WTH? I feel so alone. No one understands and I question whether anyone really cares. I know I don’t deserve this, but here I am struggling in this relationship. Is there a reason for this? Is there some big lesson I’m supposed to learn from this? Is there even a God who cares?”

Codependency is not just two people having an unhealthy attachment to each other. It’s much broader than that. Codependency is an “issue” or style of relating that affects everyone on the planet to some degree in a couple different ways.

  • It’s an unhealthy attachment to self because of a disconnect.
  • It’s also a disconnect from God.
  • It’s an internalized belief that “I am not good enough”.
  • It’s fragmentation of the soul, with parts being lost along life’s journey.

It’s a “self-love deficit disorder” according to Ross Rosenberg, and this absence of self-love internally affects how we get along in the external world.

In the mental health field, it’s explained as our ego or shadow picking up codependency defenses when we were children, so that we could try to make sense and move on in this world despite pain.  Even kids raised with conscious, loving parents experience things like shame and pain, causing their egos to take on emotional defense mechanisms that affect them later in life.

In the Christianity view, codependency results from a separation from God, presumably because in and of our “selves”, we’re prone to sin/darkness because of the fall of man.

In the spirituality camp, codependency is a separation from “self”, and self-love. 

In Shamanic societies, it’s the result of lost parts of the soul, splitting off every time some sort of trauma occurs.

Codependency: Wounded Souls Everywhere

Essentially, as adults, there are a lot of wounded souls walking around looking for love in all the wrong places.

I like to call the wounded part of us the inner child. Some call it the shadow or ego or carnal nature. To me, it doesn’t matter what we call that part of us; call it whatever resonates with you the most.

Good news is that when we can recognize this wounded part of us, we are given the opportunity to bring healing and love there. We have an opportunity to reconnect with that part of us, and learn just how to love ourselves at the core level.

My inner child, which I unconsciously let run my adult life at times, wants me to acknowledge her.  She wants to know she’s not alone, and she wants to share with me (adult me) the pain she went through as a little girl. The trauma she experienced alone and afraid. The loneliness she from being emotionally neglected.

Before we get too far, I want to take you on a little journey concerning codependency from a cosmic perspective.

See, I’ve always known that I was a spiritual kind of being here on this planet for a set amount of time. There’s the fleshly me and then there’s the spiritual me. On top of that, there’s the emotional me.

Mind. Body. Spirit.  I’m all of that!

So many are asleep when it comes to spiritual matters. So much emphasis on the outer things. My hope is that an awakening will occur – a spiritual awakening!

That people will become more conscious of themselves as spiritual beings, and become more conscious of a connection with God or their Higher Power.

Here we are on this earth

Yes, we’re all here on this earth for an adventure!  I don’t have all the answers as far as why we are all here or what our primary purpose is, but here are a few ideas according to different faiths.

In talking about humanity, the prophet Isaiah records God as saying humans were created for God’s glory. (Isaiah 43:7)

The apostle Paul says, “God made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.”

I don’t know about you, but I can understand how God or the Creator of the Universe might create humanity to enjoy the earth, and to enjoy God. As a mother, I was very much in favor of creating my children to enjoy life. I wanted my children to live, love, and laugh!

As creators, we love to create and share our creations with the world, don’t we?

According to Buddhist philosophy, our purpose in life is to end suffering.  As humans, we experience suffering at times, largely because we try so hard to hold onto things, people, (codependency) etc. and let’s face it: those things don’t last and can let us down. 

The Buddha taught that attachments (unhealthy attachments, as in codependency) cause suffering, and he dedicated his life teaching people how to free themselves from such attachments, and serve humanity in love and compassion.

Shamanic societies believe that we’re here to simply BE, and enjoy, just like the trees, stars, rivers, jaguars, and so on. To observe and be free to enjoy God’s great mystery. 

Of course, there are hundreds of other ideas as to life’s purpose around the world, and it’s up to each person to discover what resonates for him or her.

One thing I know for sure is that regardless of why we’re here, we all experience many different things- good and painful.

Yes, experiencing pain is something we signed up for when we hurled through the cosmic portal and landed in our mother’s womb. Pain is universal, and we usually begin experiencing this pain in early childhood.

So, picture this with me.

Sandy came to the planet through a mom and a dad that had never really dealt with the pain they encountered through life. Her dad, George, was an alcoholic and physically abused Sandy. Her mom, Alice, was an emotional manipulator, bordering on narcissism. Alice spent her whole life using control and manipulation toward her children in order to feel some sort of love and security.

So, Sandy had to deal with all this trauma and emotional neglect as a child and teenager. Of course, she desired unconditional love, but what she learned was conditional love. For her to receive any type of affirmation, she had to meet her parents’ “conditions” (which were not reasonable for a child).

She learned that if she would cater to her mom, her mom would be happier. If she cleaned the house or took care of her siblings, Dad was more peaceful. If she avoided her parents, she felt better. She learned to walk on eggshells and keep her mouth shut so her dad wouldn’t beat her when he was drunk.

How could Sandy, as a young child, cope with all that emotional and physical abuse? She couldn’t. Children do not have the capability to effectively cope with trauma and pain, so the ego or psyche (a defense system), helped Sandy get through it by people pleasing, detaching from her feelings, and denying that it was “real bad”. (All symptoms of codependency)

This detachment can also be explained as her losing a part of herself; a powerful part of herself known as soul loss. And thus began a lifetime of her slowly giving her power away, chipping away at her soul.

What happened to Sandy as an adult? She struggled with codependency. She had many classic signs like low self-worth, poor boundaries, little self-care, people pleasing, not feeling her emotions at times, and at other times feeling too deeply, not knowing what she wanted or needed, and more.

If you asked her how she feels, she might say, “I’m empty and lost. I feel like a shell of a person.”

Now, let’s look at her sibling, Ralph.  He went through the same dysfunctional childhood as Sandy, but he did not become a codependent people pleaser. Instead, he unconsciously hardened his heart and became a narcissist.

(Note: He didn’t intentionally plan to become narcissistic as a young child and we don’t really know for sure why some children’s egos take on such defense mechanisms, while others take on more codependent characteristic.)

Ralph grew up very angry with a chip on his shoulder and totally cut himself off from his feelings. He felt very entitled and used others to get his needs met, because this gave him a sense of power and love.

Now, let’s put spirituality in the picture. Both Sandy and Ralph came on the planet pure and innocent. They were lovely babies who were very spiritual (pure), but things happen when you grow up. An ego, personalities, and coping skills are formed. They experience pain and as children, they cannot process and integrate that pain, so they stuff it. Then they apply layers and layers of more pain over their core, beautiful spiritual selves.

Let’s say Sandy recognized she was in immense pain in college and wanted to do something about it. She entered therapy and turned to God in order to begin healing those childhood wounds. She has spent more than 30 years “doing her work” and has healed many wounds. She remembers who she really is more and more, working on her codependency recovery, yet sometimes she still gets triggered. After all, those wounds cut very deep.

Ralph, on the other hand, opted not to address the immense inner pain he felt. He started drinking during his teen years and realized that it felt good to numb that pain. He had several thoughts about getting professional help and even occasionally cried out to God for help, but he never committed to the healing journey. He has spent the last 30 years in and out of toxic relationships and drinking to keep numbing the pain.  He has forgotten who he really is. He’s got so many painful layers over his beautiful soul that he feels it would impossible to dig through or he doesn’t realize that HE CAN.

Now, if we go even deeper into the picture, before Sandy and Ralph came onto the planet as babies, I believe they had made a decision (in spirit form) to experience certain things while on the earth. Perhaps they wanted to experience the pain of rejection and the triumph of overcoming such pain; transforming it into beauty. Or the trauma of a very dysfunctional childhood, healing it layer by layer and helping others do the same.

This is what’s going on in the world. Souls are living inside these fleshly bodies, but many have forgotten who they really are. They’re all caught up in the subconscious programming that occurred under the surface in childhood. Over the years, parts of their soul have been chipped away by life’s struggles and pain.  They’ve lost sight of the bigger picture. They’ve succumbed to the belief that their ego is the real deal, but it’s not!

The ego is your mask. The false self. The carnal nature.

The real YOU is beneath that mask….a PURE SPIRT…in the form of LOVE!  A healthy love – not the people pleasing/enabling/manipulating/insecure kind of love.

So, your journey toward getting back to identifying with THAT SPIRITUAL part of you has commenced. This healing journey that you’re on is taking you back there, underneath layers of masks, or pain, to your divine nature in God.

To your beautiful soul.

Are you starting to remember who you were before you started wearing masks? Before the pain overtook you?

Your authentic self? 

Right now, dear one, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be, learning about codependency, and valuable life lessons and recognizing your wholeness little by little.

And you’re doing great. Remember, it’s progress we’re after; not perfection!

Codependency Recovery Prayer:

God, please help me re-connect with myself and You. Help me to really know that in You, I am already complete. I am whole, beautiful, and worthy of unconditional love. The kind of love that can only come from You. I don’t always understand God, but I’m still holding onto faith in You.