“Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you- all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.” -Rachel Naomi Remen
So much of our healing, from any hurtful or toxic event, depends on our own attitude. How we feel about ourselves and our choices, and whether or not we have a strong sense of self, all impact our healing process.
As children, if we have a weak sense of self, we can easily become followers. We might develop “black-and-white” or “ all or none” styles of thinking because we haven’t been allowed (or had an opportunity) to develop necessary critical thinking skills. When we have faulty thinking skills, the very idea of making a decision can cause anxiety and fear. When this happens, we’d rather let someone else make our choices for us, rather than to try to make them ourselves. If we continue doing this, as we mature and become adults, it becomes very easy to give up our personal power. We learn that handing over our power to someone else will free us from the anxiety and/or fear that come from the idea that we might make a poor choice.
Sometimes when we’re very fearful we avoid making any choice at all. Ironically, not making a conscious choice is still a way to make a choice! This type of choice is based on not taking action. Consequences for that choice will still occur.
Once we give up making decisions for ourselves and allow others to make our choices for us, it’s very easy to give up our individuality, our “sense of self.” We become “people-pleasers. ” This is an aspect of codependency.
Codependent people find it easy to be involved in (and maintain) one-sided, emotionally damaging and/or abusive relationships.
Codependency was first identified over a decade ago as the result of years of study of interpersonal relationships within families of alcoholics.
Codependency is an emotional and behavioral illness that affects our ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It’s a learned behavior, so it’s able to be passed down through generations. It’s learned by watching and imitating family members who use it as a coping mechanism. Codependency lends itself nicely to all kinds of unhealthy relationships that involve alcoholism, substance abuse, and mental illnesses, including narcissism.
The key to our healing from this toxicity is to acknowledge our codependency and to correct it by making changes to the ways we perceive, think and behave. We can’t fix another person. The only thing we are in control of is ourself, including our attitude and our choices.
This blog is dedicated to those of us who have embarked on that journey, whether it’s day 1 or day 20,322.
Tools to try:
- Keep it simple: simple solutions are often the most effective. Look at what’s really happening instead of imagining the “what ifs”. Take a gradual approach to solving the problem instead of reacting from fear or panic.
- Respond rather than react. (Homework: look up the difference and try responding the next time you have the opportunity. See how it feels)
- Easy does it: forcing a fast solution doesn’t work. We’re simply not able to solve every problem in the time frame we want. Some problems are not ours and are not for us to solve. Sometimes a gentler, more patient approach is more effective and less frustrating. Slow down and lighten up. Take a more accepting attitude toward yourself and enjoy your day, no matter how much or how little you achieve.
- Have a Plan B and Plan C ready.
- “Let Go”. Emotionally detach. Let go of trying to control things that you can’t control. Let go of people and what they said or didn’t say, did or didn’t do. Let go of expectations. Let go of outcomes.
- Let yourself observe people and not try to fix them. Be open to surprise.
- Practice “live and let live” and “not my circus not my clowns.” Look those up and think about the meaning.
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About the author
Diane Metcalf earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 1982 and a Master of Science in Information Technology in 2013.
She has held Social Worker, Counselor and Managerial Positions in the fields of Domestic Violence and Abuse, Geriatric Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Reproductive Health. She is an experienced Advocate and Speaker on the topics of Domestic Violence and Abuse and has been a guest on Lockport Community Television (LCTV), sharing her knowledge and experience regarding Domestic Abuse with the local community. In addition, she experienced Maternal Narcissistic Abuse and has been involved in other toxic relationships. She consciously learned (and continues to learn) appropriate coping skills and strategies to live happily. She shares those insights here.
Her books and articles are the result of her education, knowledge, and personal insight regarding her own abusive experiences and subsequent recovery work. She is no longer a practicing Social Worker, Counselor, Program Manager or Advocate, nor is she or has she ever been a licensed psychologist.
Currently, Diane runs her own website design company, Image and Aspect, and writes articles and tutorials for Tips and Snips, her inspirational blog for creative people. She continues to learn and write about Emotional Healing.
This website is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional therapy.