The Disease of Good People
by Jim Good,
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is a disease of good people. It is a disease of those who love
too much. It is a disease which is often canonized as a life of
self-sacrifice, martyrdom and victimhood. Codependence is similar
to other dependencies in that codependents have a compulsion for
something - usually someone - outside themselves in order to feel
good. A codependent's focus is outside of themselves to the point
of losing touch with their own identity and feelings. This results
in the codependent letting other people's behaviour affect them
and thus becoming obsessed with trying to control the other person's
behaviour. They overreact to things outside themselves and under-react
to things inside themselves. They are not in touch with their
own needs and feelings and become caretakers and enablers. This
results in an arrested identity development, which includes "frozen
can manifest itself in many ways - chemical addiction, eating
disorders, depression, relationship addiction, stress disorders,
compulsion. Underneath codependency, you will find guilt, shame,
and fear which can usually be traced back to the family of origin
where there has been abused and neglected. Codependents are recognized
by their persistent need for external approval in order to see
their life as meaningful and worthwhile. They will do anything
to preserve a relationship no matter how destructive it may be
for themselves. They assume responsibility for the feelings and
behaviours of others, while neglecting or not even being aware
of their own. They constantly put the needs of others before their
own because of a devastating fear of rejection. They are "people
pleasers" who care much more for what other people think
of them than they care about themselves. They are "caretakers"
who need someone to depend on them.
type of thinking that codependents engage in is as follows: 1)
My good feelings about who I am stem from you. 2) 1 feel good
when I am liked by you and receive approval from you. I will be
what you want me to be. 3) My mental attention is focused on you.
4) My self-esteem is bolstered by relieving your pain. 5) 1 am
not aware of how I feel. I am aware of how you feel. 6) My fear
of rejection determines what I say or do. 7) 1 put my values aside
in order to connect with you.
is a radical dishonesty. Codependents are supreme controllers
and lies play an important part in this process. Even the belief
that they can control the life of another is a lie, but codependents
try it anyway. They have to lie about the way they feel because
of fear of disapproval. They cannot do what they want to do because
they are so occupied in fulfilling the needs of others that they
don't even know what they want themselves. This is being dishonest
with themselves. The radical lie which codependents believe is
that the world centres around them, and that happiness or unhappiness
of others depends on what they, the codependents, do or say. They
end up living a lie which they must protect by projecting all
their problems on the world around them. Codependents set themselves
up to fail because they believe the illusion that they are someone
else's saviour and redeemer. When it doesn't work - and it never
does - they cry "I'm such a good person. What did I do to
deserve this?" What they did was to accept and live a life
of radical dishonesty.
of the symptoms of codependency that would affect one's physical
health may include fatigue or lack of rest, depression, hyper-vigilance,
substance abuse, anxiety, stress related medical illnesses, compulsive
behaviour, situational loss of daily structure, and an inability
to think clearly.
from Codependency Recovery begins with replacing false beliefs
of codependency with new ones that are based on truth. Codependents
must no longer see themselves as victims or martyrs to the world
around them. They must take responsibility for their lives and
not see themselves as being responsible for the lives of others.
There must be a commitment to the truth. They must boldly affirm
the truth about themselves. Some important truths are the following:
1) 1 don't have to be perfect to be approved. 2) My feelings are
good and helpful. I am free to express them honestly and lovingly.
3) It's OK to ask for help and join a support group which loves
me the way I am and not for what I should be. 4) 1 accept personal
responsibility for my actions and do not need to look to another
for self fulfilment. 5) 1 am a child of God. My value and worth
as a person come from my identity, not from what I do.
healing of codependency is a process that slowly unfolds. Denial
has to be dissolved and attention focused back on one's self.
Codependents need to recognize they are perpetuating their own
problems. They must learn to identify and express feelings, let
go, and develop self worth and self love. Like a butterfly that
emerges from a cocoon, codependents must emerge from the darkness
of their isolation and bondage and begin to spread their wings.
They need to experience the beauty and freedom that lies within
them - a freedom that is experienced when the focus is taken off
the "other". Recovery is possible.
Good is a Professional Additions Counsellor in Charlottetown and
can be reached at 902-368-4289.
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