Monday, March 31, 2008

A Sick Cycle of Dependency

Being dependent on others almost comes natural when we are in a state of confusion. We seek others opinions, beliefs, and advice. What others say, if we place them in a position of authority, becomes "The Word." Unfortunately, the advice and opinion of the other person, is really a form of "approval" that we seek. The "approval" we seek is not healthy for the relationship. It forms a relationship of "one up and one down" (someone higher or a "step above" us).

Doing Too Much To Cover Up Our Needs
Unfortunately, no one can really give you advice as a prescription to your situation. Because no one really knows you, and knows ALL your history, and you ENTIRE situation. But because of alcoholism or in fact, anything that may be creating a huge amount of anxiety, can place us in a state of confusion.

So, instead of quieting our minds, seeking guidance from our inner strengths, and just listening, we tend to do the opposite. We run around keeping ourselves busy. We do for others. We then do more for others. We then do even more. We avoid and bury our feelings and we don't confront the fact that we are "stuck" or "have to make a decision." It becomes a way to procrastinate and avoid unpleasant situations.

Our "doing" becomes extreme - after awhile. We get so caught up in doing that we exhaust ourselves. Our "doing" is a way of avoiding an unpleasant situation at first. We then make the doing a habit. This doing mistakenly becomes a way in which we seek approval and validation from others instead of from ourselves.

By doing for everyone else, we set ourselves up for failure. We are in such a state of turmoil, we begin to believe our self-worth is relative to the amount we do for others AND we seek their approbation (approval). When we don't receive their approbation, we do more AND / or we feel "unworthy" or we feel "insignificant."

A Note About Children
I need to emphasize here that I am not saying, don't help our children. But I am also saying, don't not expect children to help out and do for themselves what they should be doing. When we do for our children what they should and could be doing and ought to be doing, we actually ROB them of their ability to GROW up to become fully functional adults.

We have 21-year-olds in this society of ours who EXPECT to be given things. And when they don't get, they sulk. We have 40-year-olds who are also the same way. Often, these are our alcoholic relatives of whom nothing has been expected, and therefore they return exactly that.

Seeking Approval By Seeking Advice
We then go to others for outside advice - on how we could be better at what we are doing. And unfortunately, the people who we are doing for, the people we are running around for - are the same people we go to for advice!!

And because we have set ourselves up in a relationship where we are "not as important" as the other person, their advice really is a form of approval - a form of acceptance - a form of validation - that we feel we need to have.

Does that make sense what I have written? Stop and think here for just a second and reflect on this.

The same people who we are doing for, supporting and doing what they should be doing for themselves, we wind up wanting their approval and validation. When we don't get it, often we seek their advice. This advice may not come in the form of advice or at least good advice, it may come in the form of criticism. Some may call it "constructive criticism" in order to put a veil on it.

We start by asking them, "Tell me what I should be doing?" Or "How can I do this better?" Or "I want to help. Tell me what would make you happy?" And of course we never make them happy.

Just think about that for a while today. Isn't this sick?

Realize this fact. Advice is everywhere, most of it is free and not worth the price. When we don't get their "advice" or their "approval" we are creating a cycle of dependency. It is a sick cycle.

Start by Stopping
The best place to start - to help you and get you on the right track, is to stop doing for others, and start taking time out for yourself.

Stop seeking the approbation of others. You don't need it. You are already a worthwhile person. You ARE good. You ARE strong. YOU ARE GREAT.

Remember, you are great. It's only WHAT you may be DOING, that may not be so hot. In this case, when youare doing only because you are seeking the approval of others, this is not such a great idea. When you know you are OKAY (a good and worthwhile person), you will tend to see yourself and your actions differently.

Reflect on your actions. Start by asking yourself - "Is this something I should be doing? Or is this something others could and should be doing?" And ask yourself, "Am I doing this (or asking this questions or advice) in order to seek the approval and validation of my worth from this person?" The purpose of these questions is not to have you stop doing these things, it is to get you to understand why you are doing them, and then decide if this is something you want to take on.

Take Time Out By Doing Nothing (or the Opposite)
Sometimes, the best thing to do is - NOTHING. It is the opposite of what our lives have been for months and years. The idea of doing NOTHING is so foreign that it is impossible for some of us to grasp.

Doing nothing is not what you may think. Doing nothing doesn't necessarily mean going to the beach and sitting there and watching the waves come in. Although, it could!!!

To me it means, stopping what I am doing and doing something for ME.

  • It may mean getting up at 4:30AM and reading spiritual books, leadership books, or something positive.
  • It means to me, now, finding an Al-Anon meeting and sitting there, breathing deeply and listening. Al-Anon has become a source of quieting my mind.
  • It means to me, going running in the middle of the day.
  • It means to me, that when in a business meeting, I do not need to take over and lead the discussion. It may mean I sit in the meeting, taking notes, and reflecting and watching, and seeing that things turn out the way I would have it turn out anyway.
  • It means to me, taking timeout to do something with my daughter, that I wouldn't do, because I am too busy to do that at that moment.
  • To me, doing nothing, may mean meditating. Or taking a nap.

It could mean to you, the above or something else. But doing nothing - can be - doing just the opposite of what you "normally" would do, but most of all, doing nothing and doing the opposite is a "focus on yourself" and not someone else.

This post, started off on the topic of being dependent and seeking the advice of others. I am suggesting that we slow down, and start thinking about who we are and what we are doing. And ultimately stop doing so much for others and start doing for ourselves. And accept ourselves as worthy and worthwhile individuals.


Syd said...

I agree with you. That's why I have learned to take time for myself to do those things that I enjoy. And to not depend on any one else for my happiness. It's an inside job.

Catherine said...

That concept of recieving advice and affirmation from the same source is interesting. (And I say "recieving" because it's extremely common for friends/family to offer both without solicitation.) When you bring that up it makes me realize that I do it a lot -- actually I LIKE getting input. I also know that if I get advice that "isn't right," I'll just ask go and get some more from somewhere else. Ha!

Maresie said...

I spent endless years obsessing about the A and wondering what I could do to make him change. I realise now that was part of my not being able to deal with his illness. Now I can of course because I no longer live with him. Nevertheless there are long term effects of having lived with him ruined credit, diminished health, loss of so much.

I spent years trying to make it better for him before I could focus on me. I had to be in Al anon for a full four years before I could grasp detachment, focusing on me and letting go. I had to let go or he would have destroyed me and everything else with it.


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