Why? Why? Why?

“She did not make it,” the message read.

I knew what the words said, but my mind would not allow me to believe what they meant. Without a logical way to explain her sudden death, my mind refused to accept the situation. The pain and the grief were too great; the truth was too painful, too shocking, too awful.
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10 Characteristics of Co-Dependents

In my last blog I talked about the definition of co-dependent and co-dependency. This week I want to talk about some of the characteristics of co-dependents and their behaviors.

  1. Everything related to feelings is difficult.
    A co-dependent has a hard time identifying what they are feeling. They usually know what their partner and everyone else is feeling and determines their feelings accordingly.
  2. Feeling good about themselves comes from others liking them.
    When they don’t have approval from others, their Harsh Inner Critic tells them they are not wanted.
  3. Their mental attention is focused outside of themselves.
    It is focused on pleasing others and protecting others. If they can do something for another person and be recognized for it they will feel good.
  4. Fear controls and motivates them.
    The fear of anger and rejection determines what they say and how they act. They don’t have personal opinions, only opinions designed to please others.

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Co-dependency Explained

John is the head of a non-profit organization that benefits the poor. He is loved and respected, yet feels it is never enough. His identity is his work. He neglects his family and friends.

Jane is the mother of three. She dedicates her life to her children’s needs and wants. She has no social life and no interests of her own. Her only sense of identity is as a mother.

Sally is a “closet” alcoholic. She works all day, but at night and on weekends she is consumed with alcohol. Every activity must include the opportunity for alcohol. She lives to drink.

Sam’s marriage looks perfect from the outside. On the inside, Sam is unable to separate from his wife. He calls her many times during the day. When they are apart, he becomes anxious and feels empty inside.

Each of these people is co-dependent.

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6 Skills for Better Relationships

Whether it’s a friendship, a romance, or a family member, good relationships don’t just happen. They take work, and require skills. I’ve listed six of them below that I think are crucial to maintaining good relationships in all areas of life.

  1. Set Boundaries.
    It is important to know where you start and end, because it is easy to lose your sense of self in a new relationship. Getting caught up in the adventure of experiencing activities and ideas from a different perspective can override paying attention to yourself. You may neglect to notice your feelings about what you are doing and the amount of time you are spending with one person. Make sure you always check in with yourself before saying yes. Ask yourself, “Is this something I truly want or need to do?”
  2. Ask for what you want and need.
    No one can read your mind, so it is your responsibility to verbalize your wants and needs. Listen to yourself, feel your feelings, and trust yourself.

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Feeling Substitution: Tit for Tat

Feelings are essential to our lives and well-being, because they give us information about what is going on around us and inside of us. We learn from an early age that there are acceptable feelings and unacceptable feelings. Many families have only one or maybe two feelings that are understood and accepted by its members.

For example: a child grows up in a family where the only acceptable feelings are sadness or depression. When someone expresses joy and excitement, (s)he is met by a lack of enthusiasm, perhaps is even told to “calm down.” Children in this family quickly learn that excitement, joy, and enthusiasm are unacceptable.

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