The first session of the new round of Group Therapy For Codependency was held last Saturday. The objectif in the first session was to discuss how childhood and the lack of connection with caregivers had fostered a codependent attitude in adulthood. We heard stories of abuse and neglect but mostly about how parents appeared to be so busy with themselves in some way, the children were invisible. This is not new of course, and the art of parenting effectively often gets lost in the need to get life done (or to avoid responsibility).
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The effect on the subsequent adult is often devastating. As children, we soak up the environment we grow up in like a sponge. If our parents tell us something, however wrong or abusive, we believe them. We have no choice because children do not know any different and have no alternative to tap into. The fact that children are programmed for connection from the early part of their lives consolidates this. This means we move into our adulthood with all of the learnings from childhood firmly in place in the form of our “life blueprint”, which is based on the world as our parents saw it. While that doesn’t mean that we are programmed robots, we tend to revert to our childhood protection measures when under stress or challenged.
This is often based on avoiding our fears and taking the easiest possible route to a solution. This is primarily driven by our inner dictator who reminds us in terms of thinking and language why we should be shamed and criticized. It consolidates our core beliefs and motivates us with fears to avoid. The truth is that the inner dictator was formed in childhood and it becomes a reliable source of information. It allows us to practice instant gratification such as drinking, taking drugs and inappropriate relationships. It keeps us in fear of our fears. Where codependency is concerned, it will maintain the drama triangle, a key tool in codependent control.
All of the internal workings of our mind will drive a mindset and behaviour. Upon examination, many people deal with conflict and communication in the same way they did as children. In codependency, this mindset will drive anyone to believe that they “need” to be in a relationship and they have to constantly try harder in order to “keep” their partner. Being often attracted to people pulling away from them, doesn’t help the process. Here, thinking turns into anxiety and control as a codependent does all they can to maintain the status quo, often mirroring their childhood.
It is hard to tell anyone who is so deeply rooted in core beliefs and conditioning that they can think their way out of their behaviour but it is actually true. It may seem at times as if our mind controls us but that feeling comes from the fact that we allow it. In effect, most mind input is a story started by a thought or a fear we had at some point. If we say to ourselves, I am worthless or a failure, our mind will dredge through our fears and experiences and eventually present that evidence to the conscious mind.
I am of the firm belief that if these thoughts and the language that is associated with it can be influenced, mindset and behaviour can be changed. It is the harder way (that is often the problem), but is the better way long term. Staying in the moment is an essential part of this as most thoughts and feelings we have that fuel the inner dictator are automatic and we have a small window of opportunity to deal with it.
The first stage of this process is to become aware of how and why the inner dictator was formed and its influences when we are stressed or triggered. This awareness must be used to challenge thoughts and language that drive the process. This can only be done if these thoughts and language are monitored and observed by standing back and taking the time to take an alternative view and moving towards fears instead of away from them.
You might be thinking at this point, “yes, easier said than done” and you would be right. It is. However, in the same way that we learnt this mindset, we can unlearn it and learn values instead that can become a driving force and guiding light in our lives.
Some of my articles to read on the same subject:
- Why Codependents Accept Abuse: They Are Attached To The Conceptualised Self.
- Practice The Observing Self: Countering Automatic Thoughts And Actions.
- Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Language: It Shapes Our World
- What We Tell Ourselves (And Listen To) Is Crucial.
- Childhood Shame: How It Shapes Our World
(Featured Image: Unsplash)
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Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a counseling psychotherapist in online private practice working with individuals, couples and groups, dealing with codependency issues, severe depression, bipolar, personality disorders, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders and other mental health issues. He has been practicing online for many years and recognized early that online therapy was a convenient method for people to meet their therapist. Working outside the box, he goes that extra mile to make sure clients have access to help between sessions, something that is greatly appreciated. He also gives part of his spare time up to mentor psychology students in a university setting.
For more information, please visit: www.drnjenner.com