Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Breaking Co-Dependency - First Step

Here are some ways to break co-dependency. I would be more than happy to post anyone who has ideas and methods they have used in the past. Just put it in the comment box, and I will place in tomorrow's blog post.

Learn how you feel when you are asked to do something. What is the feeling you get from it? Is there a sense of satisfaction that someone thought well of you to ask you for help?

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Who in the world doesn't feel some sense of satisfaction of being thought well of by others? But getting praise versus recognition - are two different things.

It's when you get your sense of self-worth, your internal barometer of how worthy you feel of yourself as a person, from others opinions of you, that you may be in trouble.

One form of praise is being asked by someone to help them out. How we love to be praised. Like a dog, we sometimes set ourselves up to be loyal and "always there" on command. And the command is, "Can you help me?" or it is telegraphed, not stated, "I need some one's help . . ."

We get an emotional "high" from it. They become in a sense a "pusher" and we become the "addict." We become addicted to the "approver" - the pusher. The pusher "approves" of us, and we feel "accepted" which makes our self-worth rise. Our self-worth is the value we place on ourselves as "good" or "bad" or perhaps "smart" or "stupid." Our self-worth is how we value ourselves in - and this is a key word - in comparison to others. While the comparison to others is not a good measuring stick - it is worse. Because in co-dependency we are compared to others by someone else. And if this is not stated by the pusher, it is in our minds.

When we seek praise or adoration of others - we set ourselves up for failure. Why? Because we will never be perfect all the time, in the eyes of others. You are on a perpetual treadmill, and the problem is, the other person, the pusher, will never be able to give you what you need all the time - the praise you seek, the acceptance you need and now crave.

Action Exercise: When you don't get the praise - what happens to your feelings? Stop here and think about this just for 5 minutes. Take out a pen and list your feelings out.

Now, did you write out any of the following words:
The feelings of "I can't do anything right." or "I must not be good enough."

There may be other feelings you get. But the important thing here is to recognize this; You are not alone. And more importantly, you are co-dependent. Your "disease" is your sense of self is derived from helping others.

To break this you must recognize when you are setting your self up for failure. Ask yourself:
1. Am I doing this for this person because I want them to see me as a good person?
2. Am I doing this because I have done this for them all the time?
3. Is this a person I look up to or need their approval of what I do?
4. Is this something I don't have time for, will impact what I had planned to do instead?
5. If I don't do it, will they think that I am selfish?

The next time, get into your head. Think about your thinking and therefore your feelings.

The next time say the following, with genuineness and kindness, when someone asks you for help that maybe you are "addicted" to helping;
"I'd love to help out. But I have other plans. Let me know how it turns out."
"I can't get to it right now, can it wait until later?"
"Can you do that for yourself? I am in the middle of something right now."

These are kind ways of saying "No, I can't." They are not meant to be mean. Start here and try these this week - for an entire week (of course modify the sentences to meet your situation). The exercise is not meant to drive the other person away, it is meant to break your need for the other person's approval.

Next Post - Breaking Co-Dependency - Second Step

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