Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Codependency & Caretaking

It's tempting for those of us who are recovering from codependency to engage in caretaking of others. This is a behavior that's learned in early childhood, where a child learns to take care of the needs of the caretaker instead of the caretaker noticing and meeting the needs of the child. This care taking behavior helps the child to survive, but becomes hurtful to relationships in adulthood.

The care taking behavior continues throughout life as this is the only internal working model the abused person has for relationships. He finds his value in taking care of the needs of others, and he expects not to get his own needs met. His own needs do not go away, but grow more fierce as the needs are replaced with toxic shame, and more care taking.

Care taking is taking care of the emotional needs of someone else; needs that they should be tending to themselves, or through their own professional counselor. Care taking is a compulsive behavior that wrecks relationships as it is the manifestation of codependency. It involves helping someone, rescuing them from their own behaviors.

Here's a few examples of emotional care taking that damages both parties:

A. Denying ones own needs in order to appease another person in an adult relationship.

B. Refusing to share your true feelings about the behavior of another person.

C. Refusing to ask for what you need because you don't want to be a "burden" on someone.

D. Taking the blame for causing the emotional over reaction of your partner, friend or spouse.

E. Remaining in a relationship where the other person is addicted to a substance such as gambling, sex, drugs or alcohol.

F. Listening to a friend lament constantly about his or her problems without any actions taken to improve their lives.

G. Allowing a narcissist to abuse and manipulate you.

H. Enabling someone to rely on you for something they should be doing for themselves.

I. Allowing your life to be ruled by the emotional fluctuations of a Borderline person.

I find that care taking is a compulsive behavior for codependent people. That means, it's automatic. You don't even realize you're engaging in it. You just automatically jump in there and pick up the slack of anyone who needs a "boost."

In recovery it becomes most important to take care of OURSELVES. It is not our job to make other people feel comfortable at the expense of ourselves. It's not our job to look the other way as someone we love abuses us, disregards us, disrespects or exploits us. It's not our job to make excuses for someone who is ignoring our needs while succumbing to their addictions. It is our job to draw a line in the and and say, NO. I care about ME. And I will not engage in caretaking with you.

It is our job to set boundaries internally within our own hearts that are like alarms or signals of awareness that we are engaging in caretaking behaviors that will eventually bleed us dry if we don't stop the violation. It is our job to set limits and boundaries with others.

We have to catch ourselves when we try to help others too much, when we over empathize and over give to the point that we ourselves are being ignored. We have to catch ourselves and stop ourselves, regroup and reorganize. We have to focus on ourselves and let other people have their own problems. We have to be separate. We must let go of the enmeshment and be our own person.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Power of Yoga for Healing

Me and My Favorite Yoga Instructor in 2015

I've never mentioned the power of Yoga for my healing journey. Yoga has been a wonderful source of healing for me in many ways. I've included in this article some photos by Fit Queen Irene. I follow her on Instagram, and would like to invite you to follow her too. She has some healthy views on yoga and self love. 

Yoga is a huge part of my life. It has taught me so much and brought me so much healing, strength and integration.  

The body, mind and spirit are connected. You can learn a lot about the truth of who you are in your cognitive mind, your cerebral cortex, but it is the body that holds the memories of past abuse, fear, panic and post-traumatic stress. 

If you want to get down deep into the limbic (emotional part of your brain), then you will need to supplement your reading, journaling and art and therapy with body-related healing practices such as yoga, karate, dancing and movement. The body holds stored memories and the only way to let these memories out is through movement... Also, movement is a core behavior that is instinctual in children, and a way to get through and heal your inner child

I've been doing yoga off-and-on since 2007. It has been very eye-opening for me and a wonderful experience. Here is a list of things I've learned from yoga...

Fit Queen Irene
  • How to stay focused.
  • How to stay focused on myself.
  • How to stay focused on my own needs,  instead of the needs of others.  
  • How to be brave and courageous.
  • How to do something for me.
  • How to do something that others didn't approve of.
  • How to commit to myself.
  • How to come back to myself.
  • How to stay focused on my breath.
  • How to tune out distractions while staying focused.
  • How to hold poses that are uncomfortable. 
  • How to bend.  
  • How to unfold.
  • How to grow.
  • How to hold poses as a meditation.
  • How to stay with my own feelings as I breathe through pain.
  • Moving meditation. 
  • Self love by showing up on the mat for my practice.
  • Self compassion when I fail to go to practice (which is so good for me) for months at a time.
  • How to open my heart.
  • Yoga helps release pent-up emotions. Sometimes after yoga, I cry.
  • How to practice something and get stronger.
  • How to practice something and get better at it.
  • How to embrace my imperfections.
  • How to challenge myself.
  • How to look at the world in new ways, upside down.
  • How to go beyond what I previously thought possible.
  • How to get back on track when I've dissociated and lost myself in life.
  • How to be me.
  • How to let me just be.
  • How to not be prideful.
  • How to feel humble.
  • How to listen to my body.
  • How to let go of expectations.
  • How to let go of trying to be something I'm not.
  • How to let go of competition.
  • How to stretch beyond previous limitations.
  • How little steps each time make big improvements over long term.
  • How to let go.
  • How to relax deeply.
    Fit Queen Irene
  • How to be.
  • How to process emotions.
  • How to be loved.
  • How to be present in my body.
  • How to be present in my mind.
  • How to meditate.
  • How to grow as a person.
  • How to heal as an emotional, physical and spiritual being.
  • How to view myself.
  • How to reach for the sky.
  • How to stand up tall.
  • How to walk with confidence.
  • How to hold my body.
  • How to trust myself.
  • How to practice trying.
  • How to integrate my body and mind.
  • How to listen to my heart.
  • How to be a witness to my own process.
  • How to be mindful.
  • How to encourage myself.
  • How to rest when needed.
  • How to set my pride aside and be who I am.
  • How to chant.
  • How to root and ground myself.
  • How to love myself.
  • How to love others.
  • How to make room for myself.
  • How to reposition myself in new ways I never dreamed possible.
  • How to see life in new ways.
  • How to accomplish things that I didn't know needed to be accomplished.
  • How to rely on my core.
  • How to keep going, even when I'm exhausted.
  • How to protect myself.
  • How to balance myself.
  • How to balance my energy.
  • How to concentrate.
  • How to recover from injury.
  • How to eliminate panic.
  • How to eliminate pride.
  • How to measure my progress.
  • How to respect the process.
  • How to breathe deeply.
  • How to go with the flow.
  • How to flow.
  • How to soar.
  • How to fly.
  • How to stay square.
  • How to twist and release toxins. 
  • How to stretch.
  • How to be grateful.
  • How to be spiritual.
  • How to connect body with mind and spirit.
  • How to connect body with emotions.
  • How to fight and be a warrior.
  • How to overcome insecurities.
  • How to mature.
  • How to release old mindsets.
  • How to listen to my heart.
  • How to follow my own intuition.
    Fit Queen Irene
  • How to feel my feelings.
  • How to rise again.
  • How to be tough.
  • How not to judge others.
  • How not to judge myself.
  • How to stay in the moment.
  • How to live.
  • How to align myself.
  • How to 
I know, this is A LOT. I never realized when I moved above a yoga studio in 2007 that it would change my life this much, but it did. Every year it seems I learn something new that yoga does for me. All these things, in addition to great physical benefits. Yoga is great for the mind, body and soul. It feels so good, even the most strenuous kind.

I prefer hot yoga and I love Ocean, Mountain and Desert practices. I practice at Gaia Flow in Addison, TX.  I am considering some yoga therapy classes for emotional healing in the near future. I highly recommend you check it out, even if you just find a great yoga teacher on YouTube. You will benefit from the meditation, relaxation and movement. It's fabulous!!!

Yoga is self love in action.

Victim Mentality Rant

It's really hard for me personally to allow other people to stay in the place of the victim, knowing all that I know and recently having pulled out another victim/resentment thorn out of my own psyche. This process was painful. It took the help of a professional. One thing about me though, is I REALLY WANT TO BE WELL. I REALLY WANT TO BE HEALED. So, I receive information and help from others. I am very non-resistant to psychological help. I do not defend myself whenever someone tells me that I'm shaming myself or behaving like a victim. I trust that information, if it's someone I trust. I allow that person to speak into my life and help me to see areas that I need to work on.

Not everyone is ready for healing. Not everyone is ready for growth. Not everyone is ready to move beyond the stage of the victim and onto the stage of VICTORY over the past. If you want to be ready, you have to give up your old position of resentment and helplessness. You have to receive information about yourself that is uncomfortable. You have to take accountability and mature emotionally. This is difficult, but once you set aside your defenses and receive the information, you can make changes within yourself for the better.

You don't want to hang around a bunch of people who will feed into your victim behavior. You want people who have grown beyond it and will confront victim mentality and help you see reality more realistically. You want people to challenge you, and you want to be tough enough to take it. You have to be ready to heal. You have to take the punches and face up to the fact that you are imperfect and there are things you think and do that are impeding your own progress. Don't hang around people who will support victim mentality and coddle it. Hang around people who will point it out and help you get rid of that sh---.

Now that I know Victim Mentality so well (because I've seen it in myself and others), it really bugs me. I see it clearly. I want to help the whole world. I want everyone to see that it is the victim mentality that is holding them/us back, not the actual problem. It's all in your head. It's all about your own self defeating beliefs.

But I am not the savior of the world. That is part of recovery too. It is not my job to "fix" everyone. I can only fix myself. I can guide, I can share, but ultimately, people are not paying me to be a therapist. I do all I do for free.

And there is a place for sharing and being who you are and wallowing in victim mentality. There truly is. In CoDA meetings, you can go and be yourself and share your misery. But in my group, I am growing to a place of overcoming my past victim mentality and self-shaming behaviors. I see them clearly and I will point them out if I see them in others. The healing I've gained from having others point out victim mentality to me has changed my life.

But I have to hold myself back from helping others outside of this group, and in my daily life. That's part of maturity. That's part of letting people fix their own lives. That's part of letting people own their own process. I am only responsible for me. It's not my job to inform other people about their victim behavior, etc... Even though to me it now sounds like fingernails on a chalk board.


B: I'm starting to think that getting past this victim mentality requires us to become our own hero, to save ourselves. And to know we can't save others, only influence them. Thanks for this post its going to keep me going for a bit. I am so done with victim mentality and shame!

Me: That is where I am right now, M--- and I feel so powerful. All my old thoughts and feelings are being covered in power statements like never before. I had to work hard to get here, and work through a lot of pain, grief, blocked emotions. But today, I am high on a mountain and I can see the summit and it's beautiful and I am powerful. We all are.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Victim Mentality Triggers Rescuer Trance

This phrase has been turning in my mind for several days now. I decided to stop and write about it quickly to help you, and to help myself. Victim Mentality, that is victim behavior triggers a trance-like rescuer state in those of us who were raised in narcissistic, less-than-nurturing environments. It's all part of the Karpman Drama Triangle, which is a by-pass of intimacy and consists of unhealthy, toxic games played in relationship to self and others.

In childhood you may have been taught to adapt a certain way to behaviors of your primary caretakers and others who helped influence and raise you. I have found that today, as an adult, I can be triggered back into those old childhood patterns almost as though it were a trance or hypnosis! I can be sucked into someone else's drama whenever certain behaviors are triggered. It's a bizarre thought, but so freeing to think that I can actually catch myself in action and begin to rethink my reactions.

Trances can be triggered by a variety of behaviors. For example, if someone becomes irate, this may trigger your childhood patterns of becoming accommodating and people pleasing. If someone needs help, this may trigger your fixer-rescuer patterns of behavior.  These patterns are birthed in childhood when you were required to take care of the needs of your primary caretaker instead of showing or having needs of your own. A child who is parentified survives childhood, but these behaviors cause problems in adulthood that need to be solved if one is to be happy and free.

So let's start with Fixer Rescuer since that is what is coming up for me personally lately. I've noticed that whenever someone displays behaviors that are needy, in pain, needing help, inadequate, victim, I immediately go into Ms Fix It Mode. I have a compulsive drive, a need to become the hero and fix the person's problem. Doesn't matter who it is... I just want to fix everyone's problems. I feel I have overcome the same problems they are having, and I want to rush in there and save the day.

However, this behavior is detrimental to my soul. Helping, rescuing, saving, caretaking is not healthy. It's not good for the victim and it's not good for me. I can't help anyone else. I can't do for others what they should be doing for themselves. That's codependency and that's what I'm recovering from. I have to learn to just let go and let other people have their own process. I have to learn to sit back and let others make mistakes. Sounds really easy, huh? Well, it's harder than you think because I have been mentally programmed, conditioned to jump into rescuer mode whenever certain behaviors present to me by others.

The drive to fix, help and rescue is very strong within me. I want to help everyone so much! This is a noble cause for me, but it also has selfish undertones. I want everyone fixed and right where I need them to be because their victim situation makes ME uncomfortable. So I want to control their reality by coming in and fixing things. I know other fixers have other reasons, I'm just being honest and sharing mine. I feel over-responsible.

So I started noticing when I'm talking to people when I'm triggered into Ms Fix It Mode. And I started noticing that I'm baited into this mode by others who play the role of victim. Whenever a friend, partner, family member acts helpless and needy, it is like a hook with bait on it. I take the bait and get pulled into the unhealthy dynamics of the drama triangle. I become the Rescuer.

What happens to the Rescuer? It's not good. You can rescue all day long, but if the person you're rescuing doesn't do what they need to do, your efforts at fixing are all in vain. The Rescuer can give and give and give, but in the end, the Rescuer becomes the victim. The victim of the original victim who was baiting you to join the game in the first place. Talk about a mess!!!

So the point of this article is not only to stop trying to rescue people, but to nip situations in the bud before it even starts. Don't take the bait. Don't allow your conditioning to be hooked into situations where you feel a compulsive need to fix, repair, help, rescue. Detach from caring so much.

Whenever someone approaches you with patterns of victimhood, instead of joining in the conversation, merely detach from the person and their problems. Listen to them with empathy, but don't enmesh with them. Let them have their process. Let them work out their own issues. Even if you have all the answers, enthusiasm, money, time, energy, experience and knowledge to help them out of their quandary. DON'T DO IT. Hold back. Hold yourself back. Those resources are yours and you don't need to give yourself away. 5 Ways to Detach.

Have faith that the other person, the victim, will find the resources to help themselves. This is not to say you cannot support this person, but it is to say you must not rescue this person because if you do, you're going to end up depleted. If they are miserable and you feel a tug to help them lift their spirits, and they don't take your advice (or even ask for your advice) then you're going to feel worse and worse. The victim feeds off of pity from others. The victim plays the martyr who is looking for people to join him or her in their misery.

You can help friends, but if you're prone to be a rescuer, I am finding it best for me to just stay out of the way. You don't want to give of your time, resources, heart and soul only to be resentful when the victim doesn't appreciate anything you do.

Another thing to realize about a need to rescue others is that you're trying to give to others what you really need yourself. If you rescue others, it means YOU NEED TO BE RESCUED BY YOU. How to do that? That's another article. :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Women Who Love Too Much

Excerpt from "Women Who Love Too Much" by Robin Norwood from pgs 6-8
"... it's important to understand, however, that what all unhealthy families have in common is their inability to discuss root problems. There may be other problems that are discussed, often ad nauseum, but these often cover up the underlying secrets that make the family dysfunctional. It is the degree of secrecy--the inability to talk about the problems--rather than their severity, that defines both how dysfunctional a family becomes and how severely its members are damaged.

A dysfunctional family is one in which members play rigid roles and in which communication is severely restricted to statements that fit these roles. Members are not free to express full range of experience, wants, needs, and feelings, but rather must limit themselves to playing that part which accommodates those played by other family members...  In dysfunctional families, major aspects of reality are denied, and roles remain rigid.

When no one can discuss what affects every family member individually as well as the family as a whole--indeed, when such discussion is forbidden implicitly (the subject is changed) or explicitly ("We don't talk about those things!")--we learn not to believe in our own perceptions or feelings. Because our family denies our reality, we begin to deny it, too. And this severely impairs the development of our basic tools for living life and for relating to people and situations. It is this basic impairment that operates in women who love too much.

We become unable to discern when someone or something is not good for us. The situations and people that others would naturally avoid as dangerous, uncomfortable, or unwholesome do not repel us, because we have no way of evaluating them realistically or self-protectively. We do not trust our feelings, or use them to guide us. Instead, we are actually drawn to the very dangers, intrigues, dramas, and challenges that others with healthier and more balanced backgrounds would naturally eschew.

And through this attraction we are further damaged, because much of what we are attracted to is a replication of what we lived with growing up. We get hurt all over again.