Archive for May, 2013

codependent-being-ignored-200x258_mediumCodependency used to be associated only with those who are in a relationship with someone who has an addiction. Codependent is a term that arose out of the addiction community that addicts used to described the type of person they would show love in order to use them as a resource to feed their habit.

More recently, codependency has been expanded as a broader term to describe a behavior pattern that can affect anyone, not just those who are in relationship with an addict. Codependency is identified when a person sacrifices their well being in favor of the interests and well being of others. The other is usually a person with whom they are in a significant relationship or marriage with. Codependency can happen in other areas as well such as family members, church and at work. While all people need community and to feel accepted, codependents go out of their way to get this acceptance and love from others often to the detriment of their true self character and integrity.

Denial is a codependent sub-type and there are times when people who are suffering simply don’t want to change and they would rather continue with the suffering. Often the main reason for this is because the behavior is something they are familiar with and it is a habit they are not ready to break. Change requires dropping fear of the unknown to begin to live in a more healthy way. So, if a person wants to stay codependent and continue to live in denial here are 10 ways a person can do that.

  1. Don’t talk about your problems and keep them a secret.
  2. Ignore your feelings and focus on everyone else’s feelings first.
  3. Put yourself squarely between two arguing people and play conflict messenger.
  4. Make sure when talking to others you soften your words in order to diminished any chance of emotional outbursts.
  5. Make sure you interpret self care as being selfish.
  6. It is not okay to have personal rights in a relationship to be healthy and happy.
  7. You are not allowed to play and have fun until the needs of others have been met first.
  8. Be responsible for others by picking/cleaning up after them and not allowing them to do it for themselves.
  9. Call in sick for your spouse who drinks too much and can’t make it work or is too hung-over from the night before.
  10. Remember, your good feelings about who you are stemming from how well others approve of you and the actions you do for them.

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GrievingHaving to say goodbye to a loved one can be one of the most difficult situations in life a person is faced with. Grieving can be very difficult for someone who is trying to come to grips with the meaning of the loss and the emotions they are experiencing. Strong attachments to others are not easily let go of, and grieving loss is not limited just to the death of a loved one. Emotional suffering can come due to the loss of something in our lives such as the loss of a job, loss of health, a pet, a friend or even experiencing a serious life event that leads to the loss of future dreams. The one common denominator is loss is experienced through the processing of strong emotions and over a period of time.

Grief is commonly recognized as having 5 stages as introduced by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969. As an expert on grief, she explained that these 5 stages are what a person goes through when dealing with loss:

  1. Denial and Isolation
  2. Anger
  3. Depression,
  4. Bargaining
  5. Acceptance.


These stages are not experienced in any specific order except for the 5th and final stage, acceptance. At any time, one stage may become predominate and unless it gets processed through a person can get stuck or hung up trying to heal through that stage. While there is no time limit for the grieving process, someone who becomes “stuck” in a stage may have difficulty reaching the 5th and final stage of acceptance. Acceptance does not mean a person forgets, but they have processed through the loss and they can reasonably continue with their life.

Grieving is a normal process that allows a person the chance to heal. Additionally, not all the stages have to be experienced in order to heal. Beyond the 5 stages some physical symptoms may occur as well such as fatigue, nausea and weight loss. Additional feelings such as fear, guilt and sadness are also common.

Awareness of the process of how a person grieves and that emotional suffering is part of the process serves to validate common feelings and helps normalize the experience. So what can a person do to help deal with these feelings? Here are a few suggestions of how a person can begin to work though the grieving process.

  • Get support from family, friends and a support group. Finding a good support group is very beneficial as it helps the person to know they are not alone and not the only one who is having this experience. Groups can help offer insight to the experience.
  • Turn to faith and God to find reconciliation for the loss through prayer, meditation and practice. Often getting back into the routine of faith practices can bring a sense of normalcy to daily living.
  • Find a way to express thoughts and feelings regarding the loss through expression. This can be done through journal writing, artwork such as drawing, painting and pottery, scrapbooking or some other creative way. The idea is to process through the emotions while conducting the task. Make it unique and make it yours.
  • Take care of your body. Something physical such as walking and proper diet can help your body reduce stress. Sleeping is often a trouble area as well. Take measures to get enough rest and sleep. Having a daily routine for daily living can be very beneficial.


Depression: An Area of Special Concern

Suffering a major loss can create a trigger for depression. As previously mentioned, a person can become stuck in a stage with depression often being the stage most difficult to process through. Someone who experiences depression for too long can begin to experience difficulties associated with the depression as well as the grieving. When a person recognizes that they might be struggling with depression it is important to seek treatment. The sooner the treatment, the better the outcome. Do not hesitate to contact a licensed health professional such as a medical doctor or counselor.

There are signs to know if depression is worsening and is reaching a point where help is needed. Here are a few signs to look for.

  • Recurrent thoughts of suicide or death or wishing you would have died with the loved one.
  • Difficulty functioning or concentrating at home with family, at work, school or other areas of social involvement.
  • Not wanting to get out of bed and face the day, slow movement, body aches and wanting to isolate. Insomnia may occur as well.
  • Frequent or heavy substance use in order to cope with negative feelings. Using substances often makes the depression worse.
  • Strong sense of guilt or self blame for the loss, feeling hopeless and/or worthless.
  •  Sudden onset and rapid changes in weight, putting on or losing.

Suffering and grief does not have to be endured alone. Seek professional help, support groups, family and friends to help get through the process. Leaving major depression untreated can also lead to other health problems so it is important to get proper treatment as soon as possible.

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arguing coupleArguing, who likes it? Some people might say that they like to argue and will do so over some of the most trivial things. I suppose this could be a maturity issue if the topic of argumentation is somewhat meaningless. But that is all subjective and based on interpretation of the content being argued. At the beginning of an argument is can be difficult to stop for a second and weigh the purpose and possible outcome of entering an argument to begin with. Arguing with some people can be like trying to deal with a 3 year old who is whining and screaming to get their way. Other times the argument is valid and calls for us to do a little self examination before more damage occurs. Sometimes it is best to walk away and let them work it out on their own.

Being approached by argumentative others can elicit defensive emotions primarily anger. This can cause a person to want to say a few things back in defense, but hold on a minute. Before striking back there are a few things a person can do to self dialogue their way out of an argument. The idea is to respond to other person and not react.

This is about self control and anger management. Anger is often the culprit when two people are arguing and each person feels they have to defend themselves. It is like each person’s ego has entered into a wrestling match with the other. There is a way out and a way to defeat the other person’s attacks when their ego is attempting a hostile takeover of a conversation. Simply put it is about self management and here are 5 ways to do that.

  1. Stay Objective! This is the hard part by taking a step back and listening and not letting the emotions take charge. Emotions can be good counsel and provide information about what we are experiencing but they make poor leaders. Letting feelings take charge of us can lead to a highly volatile situation. Understanding this about others can go a long way toward de-escalating a situation by remaining calm.
  2. Take Ownership of Thyself! Often arguments are grounded in fear of something and so there is an element of control and power involved. The first person to get control of is thyself. This can be accomplished by knowing that the thoughts and feelings being experienced in the moment belong to the one who is experiencing them. Others are not responsible for how we feel any more than they are responsible for what we say. This is not an excuse to go around kicking others and then saying “it’s your pain, deal with it.” If you have made hurtful comments to others take appropriate ownership of them. Statements such as “you make me etc…” are projecting the displeasure being experienced onto others. Feelings and thoughts are property, manage them.
  3. Eliminate the use of “You”! The use of the word “you” in an argument creates a defensive posture in the other person. The underlying message insinuates that the other person is the cause or fault for what is happening. Self empowerment is through the use of “I” statements. Stating something un-pleasurable or an injustice from a personal position is about communication and not verbal assaults. A word of caution when learning how to use “I” statements, many people start by saying “I don’t like it when you…” and begin to use “you” again and enter right back into the power and control paradigm. Something more helpful might sound like “I don’t like it when I am criticized, belittled or yelled at.”
  4. Walk Away! Having a sound internal dialogue helps by drawing a boundary with someone who is angry or being argumentative over something trivial and has absolutely nothing to do with you. Whatever the other person is experiencing let them own it and simply walk on. Remember, it’s their property to manage. Helpful internal dialogue may sound something like “It’s their anger, it’s their stuff, and they own it.”
  5. The Kill Shot! The kill shot (not physically) is about not letting the argument go anywhere with you in the first place, period! It kills the argument. Let the other person say what they have to say and respond in an unemotional way by saying something along the lines of “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “wow, I had no idea you felt that way” and say nothing else. If the person persists then go back to item #4. Sometimes a person looking to argue or pick a fight tries to throw out, in a metaphorical sense, a baited hook. It draws another person into the argument and if the other person goes for it then they got hooked. In a sense it validates the angry person’s anger by giving it worth or value when it is responded to. Responding to the person’s comment, or baited hook, but not buying into it leaves it squarely with the other person. They own it, let them manage it.

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