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Posts Tagged ‘Codependency’

People who suffer from Narcissism, whether it be Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Narcissistic behavior, often have trouble understanding and relating to people who practice healthy self compassion. People who have healthy boundaries and know how to place limits with themselves and their engagements with other people propose a unique challenge to a Narcissist. The first and most glaring problem for a Narcissist are people who don’t place them on pedestal to be admired. This lack of admiration often comes across to the Narcissist as a form of disrespect. Self compassion has it’s own language that differs from the Narcissist and it doesn’t include constant admiration of others.

Self compassion identifies needs as an independent person and stays focused on fulfilling those needs. A Narcissist stays focused on getting their ego admired by others and when they don’t feel this is happening they begin to manipulate others to get the attention they so greatly crave. This is where narcissism, in it’s own language, begins to strive for what is called narcissistic feed.

When the Narcissist doesn’t get this “feeding” of attention there are several things that can happen. Usually the biggest problem is anger. When manipulation doesn’t work then control by anger is often the quick default reaction. This anger can be presented in many ways with the most prevalent form being passive-aggressive. This form of behavior is manifested in many ways such as talking to other family members and friends behind their back trying to make them look like a bad person (also known as triangulation). Money, which is a big deal to most Narcissists, is often used to as a control weapon. Belittling your interests, comments, opinions, jobs etc. In other words, everything you have to say or do is “one-upped” by a narcissistic comment. Remember, nobody is as great or knows more than a narcissist. This is their grandiose thinking at work and nobody is greater than them, according to them of course.

I overheard a conversation once with this expression involved “a Narcissist cannot share a stage.” In other words, if it’s not all about me then there is no room for others. Narcissists are extremely worried and concerned about how they are viewed in the eyes of others. This is why anxiety and drug/alcohol use is such a prevalent problem for many of them. It’s the worry that gets to them, not their behavior. A Narcissist will ruin a relationship unless they are certain that all the attention is focused on them. There are no relationships with a Narcissist, only spectators. If you believe you are caught up in a relationship with a Narcissist, stop admiring them and see what happens. Practice some self compassion and put limitations on your engagement with the Narcissist and chances are things will begin to turn ugly.

Healthy people are interested in what you are interested in and want you happy and healthy. But when that level of interest stops with a Narcissist chances are you will be of no use to them and anger related problems begin to manifest. The Narcissist will begin to think you are the bad person, the one with the problem and may perceive you stopping your admiration as disrespect and resort to name calling and control measures to get you back in line with their thinking.

So what can be done about it? 

It is impossible to help someone who doesn’t acknowledge the need for help, especially with men of which most narcissists are. Men often live believing counseling is for wimps. Often healing with a Narcissist is the result of having to overcome a major addiction problem or they find themselves very alone in the world after destroying their relationships with family and friends. Look at their path, do they have a history of wreckage everywhere they go? It is then that they may (and may is rare) begin to self evaluate and start the process of trying to understand their problems.

Self examination for anyone with a personality disorder is a very scary proposition. To look inside of themselves and to truly see who they are as a person has been described as peering through a hole that leads into an empty formless abyss. The identity is missing. The ability to have healthy happy relationships is missing because of attachment issues. Emotional maturity is missing. These things must be formed, usually early in life. This is why they work so hard to manipulate others and work on things outside of themselves. Sitting quietly and doing some self examination usually involves mirrored observation and loathing in self love, not deep hearted evaluations of how they hurt someone. If a Narcissist is sitting quietly it is usually because they are secretly scheming their next move. Their thinking is usually in the form that it’s others and not me that has a problem; and I must shape them in line with my way of thinking.

In the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, they mention that the most effective way to deal with difficult people is to set boundaries for yourself. Don’t focus on the negative behavior of the other, this is often just a drama trap. The way to stop dealing with a Narcissist is to set some limits on how much you engage with that person. This is an active choice anyone can make for themselves. A quote by Dr. Henry Cloud “you get what you tolerate.” This doesn’t mean to challenge the Narcissist, (trust me you won’t win, you can’t tell them anything) but to challenge yourself to self-compassion and care. This form of healthy self respect is hard for the Narcissist to understand and will begin to struggle to make sense of it, and like I said before, they may try to twist and manipulate, especially if they are not used to it. Stick to your limits, don’t get emotional with them, and especially don’t take anything personally. Chances are in the long run they will give up and go get their “attention feeding” elsewhere.

Disclaimer: This article is meant for educational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for professional psychotherapy treatment. 

Advocacy: Psychotherapy is conducted by an appropriately trained professional with an advanced degree in a counseling field (Master or Doctorate) with recognized and approved state licensing credentials. Always check a counselor’s license. 

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We all need to be good at whatever it is that we are. Think with compassion. When people are trained from the formative years, to fear hell fire and all that would lead to the said fire, you just can’t expect them to let go of that so easily. And if anything at all, only compassion and love is going to set people free from that type of a fear. You can’t argue them out of it; you can only love them out of it. – C. Joybell C.

When you think of the word love, what comes to mind? What gives it meaning? In the mental health world I have noticed that this word does not come up very often and especially in the context of offering a healing intervention. I think the reason for this is people seem to experience love when they feel happy when their problem gets resolved. I have never read a treatment plan that involved “love thyself.”

I have discovered that there are two common roots to most people’s issues; fear and worry. This is a common thread especially for anxiety and is responsible for producing the feeling of fight or flight. If a bear chases us in the woods, this is appropriate. But when we fear the world and worry about situational outcomes it can become exhausting and manifest into long term stress. The body is not built for long term stress and anxiety. The fight or flight response is meant to be short term. It signals us to get out of our predicament and do it quickly by running and if we can’t run then we have to stand our ground.

So what does love have to do with fighting or fleeing imaginary bears? Well, for clarification, the imaginary bears are a metaphor for things in our lives that cause problems and discomfort. There are two ways to deal with this and it has to do with how love is observed, either as a noun or a verb. Love can be an object of desire and/or an action of desire. For example: I am in love with you…and/or… I love you.

If we practice self love then as a person I can say that I love myself. A word of caution: this form of love is very different from malignant narcissistic self love. Narcissists play a game of manipulation to turn attention to themselves, both positive and negative, and get very jealous when your attention is not on them. This is about self esteem. Narcissists can appear to have high self esteem but this often their grandiosity at work, “look at how wonderful I am.” Self esteem is a foreign concept to them and if you have a fair amount of it yourself the narc will often get jealous and try to manipulate your attention from yourself back to them.

This is about seeing yourself as someone of value, honor, dignity and respect. This is healthy self love, and because of this healthy self love your actions produce positive outcomes. It involves practicing self compassion and doing the things necessary that indicate recognition of the intrinsic value you hold of yourself. A narcissist does not understand this, rarely recognizes it in other people (lack of empathy is a symptom) and begins to scheme up another way to get the attention back on them (drama).

I was listening to a story once about a young man talking to a guru ( I think it was Stephen Covey but cannot confirm) who was struggling to make a decision to leave his wife. He was talking about how he did not understand how to tell his wife how much he truly loved her and no matter how hard he tried he felt that she was not reciprocating. He felt defeated and invalidated and so he tried more and more to express his love. As a result, he felt she was not part of the relationship and after a few years of heartbreak he was contemplating on getting out, he was feeling tired and defeated.

The man was asked by the guru to explain his love for her. He said he was in love with her. The guru responded “then LOVE her.” Huh? It’s an action, it’s a verb. We can say it all we want, but then what?

It’s like this, we cannot ask of love from others, it must be shown, thus reciprocated. It is an action. To love ourselves requires action and this is how we get out of our problems. We can’t sit and worry. To overcome our fears and worries is paramount to being our true selves and when we give ourselves permission to be that person it frees the heart of the burdens that keep it caged up. When we love life, it loves us back and our own personal light shines forth.

So how does a person overcome worry and fear? It requires us to have the courage and allow ourselves to be vulnerable to others and the world around us. Do not be afraid to go out and jump into life’s playground. With it comes a whole host of things that most people worry about. Suffering, pain, defeat, the what if’s, etc. and on it goes. But without entering life’s playground, we miss out on the good stuff too, the good stuff is found in the same places as the bad stuff. It basically depends on where the focus is, on the negative stuff or the positive stuff, or is there a healthy balance between the two? This is why love can be joyous and love can be difficult when we love enough to allow ourselves to just be ourselves.

A few quotes for the road:

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ― Lao Tzu

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 

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Depression or feeling down and blue can often be countered with some everyday techniques that can lift the mood. The way we think about our lives and what we experience often has a tremendous impact on how we view the world around us. When this processing of information is put into a negative frame of mind then the world itself begins to look negative leading to negative emotions such as anxiety and depression.

So how does a person stop from being exposed to too much negativity? An effective was is to stop supplying the negative stimulus. When a person takes an active approach to stop negative input into the mind then the mind is no longer feeding itself with negativity. Sounds simple right? Here are some everyday changes that a person can do to reduce negative input leading to depressive symptoms.

1. Stop watching the news. Often nothing can be accomplished sitting in your living room listening to a clanging reporter dramatizing death, destruction and political discord. Much of our culture is based on news reporting and wanting the next fix on current events. Sometimes watching news can even turn into an addiction. Turn it off for a few days and stop feeding the mind with information that is rarely, if ever, good. Having trouble not watching the news? Next time you watch the news, sit down with pen and paper and make a list of the things that were reported. Look at the list and see what the topics were about. Chances are there are no shiny happy stories.

2. Stop worrying and take action. Sitting around and worrying about things beyond our control gets us nowhere. Worry is about trying to make something that is uncertain a certainty. This falls under the 90/10 rule where 90% of the things we worry about are beyond our control, therefore worry about the 10% that are within our control and do something about it. Practice self acceptance, if there is something that you want to change then change it.

3. Practice gratitude. Coming from a place of thanks instead of thinking about what you don’t have creates positive feelings. Take a look around and think of 3 things you have to be thankful for. Do this everyday picking 3 new things each day. Practice being thankful for doing your best instead of focusing on perfection or trying to achieve unrealistic goals. Sometimes practicing positive affirmations are difficult in the beginning when caught in a web of negative thinking, but with practice it gets better and easier with time.

 

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Work DisputeWatch out!

When a codependent has a break through and they find their voice and how to make a stand in their life things can get a little rough. It follows the old cliche that things might get worse before they get better.

Underneath all of the self sacrifice that has been stuffed down and stacked up inside resurfaces going in the opposite direction. Instead of self sacrifice in order to get love from another person, this new found sense of freedom and independence turns into tough love. The codependent understands that it is okay to express themselves, their opinions and not worry any longer about what others think about them. It’s not that they don’t care, they just no longer worry about it.

Now comes the good and the not so good.

The good is personal freedom is often being experience for the first time in a very long time and quite possibly for the first time in their lives. This is not a move toward self-centeredness but a move toward self care taking and exercising some personal independence. It’s moving the self out from the subjection of others and into being objective in relationships and the environment in which they work and live.

Being objective in any situation means that the opinions, thoughts and feelings formed are unique to the individual who is experiencing them. These thoughts, feelings and opinions are viewed by the person who is holding them as just as worthy as anyone else, so there is a bit of self esteem that comes with this new freedom. It goes like this “my thoughts, feelings and opinions are just as valid as anyone else.”

Now the not so good, but it often gets better. Just like any new skill learned it takes practice to get the hang of it. Here is another cliche; “it’s not what we say, it’s how we say it. ” Here comes the stuffing. Like an overstuffed pillow, when the zipper first gets cracked open all the stuffing comes flying out all over the place. The idea is to treat it like a balloon, let out more air than is coming in bit by bit.

Usually the first few attempt come across as angry and brash. By validating and accepting themselves they struggle with the concept that they are doing harm or wronging another person by not putting the other person’s needs first. The codependent is finding their voice often for the first time and is learning how to communicate it. This takes time and practice. In this phase, learning self forgiveness goes a long way. Arguments may erupt, especially with family members who may not understand and only see a shift in behavior. Family and loved ones, not fully understanding what is going on, have to make adjustments as well since the dynamics of the relationship have changed.

One of the most common reasons why codependency happens is that somewhere along the road of the life the codependent learned to allow others to validate them. When they feel this validation is when they feel accepted, loved and liked as a person. When they move into this new sense of freedom they have learned how to accept themselves and not seek this validation from others. This can be a difficult behavior and habit for the codependent to detach from and learn new ones.

Learning how to live up to other people’s expectations is a tall order to fill. The codependent struggles to fit in with changing scenarios and compromises their true self in order to feel accepted or loved by others. People in healthy relationships have a genuine respect for each others thoughts, feelings and opinions, not because they match theirs, but because they are comfortable in their own skin, and their own right. It kinda follows one last cliche, “We can agree to disagree and still be friends. ” How is this possible? Because dropping codependency is about someone who accepts themselves for who they are, not who they think they ought to be in the eyes of another.

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Controlling Behavior in Relationships

Controlling Behavior in Relationships

Sometimes when getting married, people may unknowingly be getting involved with a controlling manipulator. Controlling people manipulate others seeking personal gain in return. It’s a power and control play. They manipulate their spouse, or significant other, into doing whatever it is they want. They do not invest time nurturing the relationship and do this by making everything all about them. It’s a toxic personality.

The controlling person often sees others as a way to serve them or to provide something for them. People are to be used. This type of behavior is often found beyond marriage extending into family and their workplace. People seeking power and position in the workplace are notorious for manipulating others. They lack empathy and absent of compassionate behavior toward their spouse, and usually toward others in general. They can, and often, are very charming at first, that is, until they don’t get their way. Once they don’t get their way this is when the controlling power tactics show up. The superficial charm didn’t work so now force, manipulation and coercion is used instead.

The manipulation is a system of power and control tactics used to control the marriage or relationship. Listed here are some common areas that a controlling person will use to manipulate.

  1. Threatening behavior and intimidation. Examples of this behavior include the use of hard looks (staring) and body postures (stern,rigid), yelling, throwing and smashing objects, showing weapons, punching walls and the destruction of other property. Threats to hurt other people the spouse cares about and at times may threaten to kill themselves to get others to respond to their demands.
  2. Verbal and Emotional Abuse. This includes name calling, constant criticism, correcting your comments, being humiliated or put down in front of others, insulting the spouse’s heritage and family, silent treatment and guilt trips.
  3. Extreme jealousy. attempts to control who their spouse hangs out with and keeps constant tabs where ever they go including constant calling and texting their phone. At work they may email them or call demanding their attention. The manipulator doesn’t want any other person in their lives for the basic reason they are jealous of others getting attention. Remember, to the manipulator it’s all about them.
  4. Using the children. This may include putting pressure to get pregnant, using the children to force the spouse to stay home, threaten to call the state for abuse or neglect, charming the children with gifts to put a negative spin on the other parent (known as “demonizing”, common in divorces).
  5. Money. This includes putting the other spouse on a tight budget, demanding information about how every dollar was spent, expecting favors in return for spending money on them, playing king or queen with the checkbook. Playing king or queen is about spending money on themselves but refuse to allow the other equal portion. This includes belittling the other by telling them they are not worth what they want to spend or they don’t deserve it.
  6. Gaslighting:  Gaslighting is quite possibly the most covert of all tactics. This is a non-clinical term used to describe a manipulator who tries to convince you that how you perceive a certain situation is not what it appears. In other words, your thinking is wrong and the intent is for you to question your won sensibility about a given situation. If gaslighting is done long and frequently enough the victim may even begin to question their own sanity. If you run into a person who gaslights chances are you dealing with the most extreme of all manipulators, usually on the narcissistic and sociopath line of thinkers. Don’t try to convince them of what they are doing, they won’t see it, and again, they will try to convince you that you are the one who is seeing it wrong. These are the crazy makers.

One thing to remember is that a person who is a manipulator in relationship is usually doing these things based on a deep rooted irrational fear of loss of control. Internally for the manipulator, it becomes a power struggle after the ego feels threatened and must take action against you to protect itself. This often when the abusive behaviors show up as indicated in the list.

Know When It’s Time To Get Out

Any time a relationship becomes physically or emotionally abusive it is time to get out. The emotional abuse, manipulation, power and control tactics are all warning signs that something is toxic. Common reasons people don’t leave a relationship, marriage, job etc. is because they feel helpless or powerless, or that the manipulator will actually carry out the threats.

Getting out requires planning, or restructuring of how you live your life. In the workplace it requires boundaries which will be discussed in another blog topic regarding Toxic Bosses. There are many resources available online or in the community that outline what is needed to create a safety plan if you find yourself in a dangerous marriage or relationship. Confronting a power controlling person can and often makes the situation worse. Getting out safely is the main goal…and keep it covert. Stealth is the name of the game when trying to get away from this type of person.

If you or someone you know may be in a marriage or relationship who has been manipulated in some way to the point they are afraid to reach out for help know that help is available. Below are some resource that can be very valuable.

http://www.resourcepoint.org/guides/guides_entry/domestic_violence_guide/

Hotlines and Helplines

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Florida hotline:  1-800-621-4202 (TTY)

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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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Controlling Behavior in Relationships

Controlling Behavior in Relationships

Being in a relationship with someone who is healthy creates good feelings of wanting to move forward with that person. In the process of relationship maturity there are certain characteristics to look out for that will help identify how things will play out in the long run. Sometimes unhealthy behavior can begin to raise little red flags in the mind that maybe something is not quite right. This is usually indicated by feelings of reluctance to spend time with the other person leading to avoidance issues. Wanting to isolate or getting away from the other person can be an indication of wanting to sort out thoughts and feelings about the relationship.

When sorting out these thoughts and feelings there are certain behaviors that signal there may be something to further evaluate. Whether married, engaged, dating or single; here are a few suggestions for self evaluation in a relationship.

  1. I can express my emotions, thoughts and feelings freely without judgment or criticism. Nurturing a relationship built on safety and trust goes a long way. Someone who is always criticizing or being judgmental about thoughts and feelings discourages growth and maturity and eventually other areas of the relationship, for example intimacy may begin to suffer. Healthy people respect each other, not criticize, even if they agree to disagree on certain subjects.
  2. Watch how the other person treats their close family members such as their parents and siblings. Are they being treated with respect or are they being negative and sarcastic? Often how these people are being treated can be a clue as to how people in a relationship will eventually be treated as well. When a relationship is new it can be exciting and most people want to present their best. As time goes on the real person begins to emerge and expose their true character. Conduct an early check by watching how they treat family.
  3. Be on the lookout for controlling behavior. Areas that are frequently used to control others are by getting aggressive regarding money, sex, anger and time spent with others. With money it is usually an issue by criticizing how you are spending money, making frequent suggestions on how to get more and then using manipulation to get it from you. In the case of marriage, money is controlled by restricting access to it and using intensive questioning about how it will be used. With sex, it is often withheld or the opposite occurs by being abusive and forceful when it is non-consensual. Anger is used to control the behavior response from others and is very highly prevalent with addictive behavior. Using anger to control is all about the controlling person which implies that “if you don’t do what I want then you will have to deal with me being unpleasant.” Finally, time with others, if a person questions or gets upset that time is being spent with others often presents an issue with jealousy. Jealousy can be an inroad leading to more complicated issues later in the relationship.

While this is not a comprehensive list of things to look out for in a relationship it can be a starting point or way to evaluate a few areas that may be of concern. Relationships can be complicated and involve many moving parts that go into the overall equation. Healthy relationships involve feeling comfortable with safety and trust with the other person. Safety and trust are foundational and allow for other areas of the relationship to grow such as maturity and intimacy. This is a kind of intimacy that goes beyond sex in the form of a deep knowing of the other person. Intimacy and maturity are lifelong endeavors in any relationship and really never stop growing. It takes time to get to really know someone.

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