Saturday, October 30, 2010

Your Happiness Makes Me Happy...

It's a dilemma, isn't it? We want to see those we care about happy, and if they're not we're not happy. So, is that healthy? What if that person just wants space to be angry about something, without being "coaxed" out of it, or wants to figure out how to make things better without involvement from anyone else? Can we let go enough to let them figure it out?

People have begun to realize that they are dependent on others for how they feel, and want in return to make others happy.

This tendency to people-please is usually done unconsciously but the consequences are something we definitely are aware of - frustration, anger, hurt, rejection, etc. This then can escalate in to a fight or at the very least cause resentments to pile up that in turn can cause two people to grow further and further apart until they wake up one day and wonder why they don't love each another anymore, or even like the other person in many cases. Which can be especially exasperating when they might have once been passionately in love or really, really good friends.

Although the first step is awareness of the behavior that caused the effects/consequences, the answer brings up all sorts of frustration for those who first find out they are co-dependent.

"So, how do I change it," they ask, often in desperation.

"By becoming aware of the needs you have, how they did not get met as a child, and how you will have to find healthy ways to get them fulfilled you for YOU," I respond.

"What does that mean?"

This is when I pull out the One-Way Relationships Workbook and we get started. Co-dependence isn't easy to break. It takes courage. In many cases my clients find it too much of a challenge and ask to do something else. In other cases, those that keep working on it begin to see the faulty conclusions they made as a child and the way these beliefs have made up their suffering today. We begin to change those beliefs until they are more empowering ones.

I usually first ask the other person to work on having compassion with him/her self. This is vitally important as painful events begin to come up along with painful feelings. Many times the client has to grieve what was lost in his/her childhood, such as innocence. This is often the case because a co-dependent is asked to grow up quite fast, to become the adult because someone else would not take responsibility for his actions, so the co-dependent took responsibility for everything (or close to it). Part of the process is learning what to take responsibility for in a relationship and what not to take responsibility for. Can you just let the other person have their feelings and not take it personally or try to change it? That's the challenge, because this is what is healthy behavior and easy to do for those who did not grow up with parents modeling just the opposite.

Regardless the process, it takes time and it takes commitment. Despite the amount of work needed to stop being a co-dependent, it is most certainly worth it. My clients have felt freer and much happier in their lives as a result...and so have I.

Homework: Begin to research it...are you a co-dependent? Does your mood depend on the mood of those around you? Do you take responsibility for what goes wrong in your relationships leaving the other person off the hook and not taking responsibility for anything? If the answer to any of these is "yes", then it is worth it to begin the process of stop being co-dependent.

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