Are You Codependent?

are-you-codependentHas someone said, “You’re so co-dependent?”  “I can’t take it, you’re so needy!” and you begin to wonder “Am I?  What does this mean for me and my future?”  Simply put, being co-dependent means the relationship you are involved in is one-sided, as you are willing to sacrifice your happiness and emotional health for the benefit of your partner or child.

Some hallmarks of co-dependency are

  1. No relationship with self. You do not know your own needs, wants, and desires.
  1. Depends on others. You only receive total fulfillment and satisfaction from your relationships with your spouse, child, etc.
  1. Compulsive Helper. Helping others makes you feel in control and safe.
  1. People Pleasing. You will honor others’ needs and wants at the cost of your own needs and wants.

Co-dependents take on 3 roles in relationships with others – the rescuer, persecutor, and victim.

The rescuer’s survived a childhood home where where their needs were not met.  As an adult, they feel safe and at their best self when they are helping others.  They do not know how to set limits and make their well-being a priority.

The persecutor’s family was one where mental and/or physical abusive ran rampant.  They hide their pain by coming off overconfident.  As an adult, they cannot tolerate vulnerable feelings.  When vulnerable feelings arise, they feel weak and will develop unsafe ways to release their angry feelings.

The victim felt damaged and inadequate in their family.  They will allow others to take care of them because they do not feel capable of doing so themselves.

If you find any of these to be true, seek professional help through a mental health professional and or Co-dependents Anonymous.

Infidelity

Types of Infidelity

 

Infidelity, cheating and unfaithfulness has been around since the beginning of time; however it has become even more complicated by what constitutes being unfaithful in relationships. Traditionally, cheating was classified as having a physically intimate relationship with someone other than your partner.  But nowadays, cheating has many faces and colors.  Of course, this is not to say that physical intimacy with someone other than your partner is a lesser offense than any other type of unfaithfulness.

One type of infidelity is the texting and phone affair. Flirty, suggestive or sexually explicit text messages or pictures are sent to someone other than your partner.  You also can over share intimate information with this person as well. Another type of infidelity is cyber cheating. Again, this is flirting or over sharing with another person.  You may also be searching and/or posting on dating sites.  It can also include viewing porn regularly that negatively impacts your emotional and sexual relationship with your partner.  A third type of infidelity is emotional cheating that starts off as an innocent friendship with a “work spouse” and/or your best friend. You spend a lot of time with this person and, before you know it, you are confiding and sharing your thoughts, fears, dreams, and secrets with this person.  You have an affection for this person that is typically reserved for your partner.  Often times, emotional cheating can lead to physical intimacy.  And lastly, there is physical infidelity.  Simply put, physical infidelity is sexual intimacy with someone other than your partner.

No matter what type of infidelity it may be, it is equally damaging to a relationship.  If you are doing anything that you wouldn’t want to share with your partner (or God), or you know it would hurt your partner, then you probably are doing something that you should stop doing.

Listening Well

Listening Well

Listening well is a necessary skill as it impacts the quality of our relationships with others. How many of us have heard our children, friend, and/or partner say, “Are you listening to me?” or “You never listen to me.”  With the listening we do all day long, one would think that we all would be so much better at listening.  However, many times we are only hearing the other person because we are too busy performing several other tasks at the same time. Other times we are deep in thought about our own attitudes, thoughts, and feelings  about the subject. Then there are times we are just too sleepy to listen attentively. And of course, we are all guilty of selective listening.

Listening well isn’t just hearing what the other person is saying, but also paying attention to verbal and nonverbal messages as well.  So how can we listen by concentrating on how and what they are saying as well as what they are not saying?  It’s interesting how the lessons that we learn in childhood prove to serve us well in adulthood.  Below is a song that some learn in preschool.  Next time you really want to practice listening well, try implementing the words of this song.

The Listening Song

Eyes Are Watching

Ears Are Listening

Lips Are Closed

Hands Are Still

Feet Are Quiet

You Should Really Try It

Listening Well, Listening Well

 

MAY: Postpartum Depression Awareness Month

MAY Postpartum Depression Awareness Month

After having their baby, new moms may experience intense feelings of long-lasting sadness, or postpartum depression. Postpartum Depression isn’t synonymous with being a weak or bad mother. It is a medical condition and, like other medical conditions, can get better with treatment. Remember that many new moms experience a range of emotions from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety about bonding and bringing home a newborn.

Some signs that what you may be experiencing is more than the “baby blues” are feelings of intense and severe depression, thoughts of impending doom, withdrawing from family and friends, confusion, trouble bonding with your baby, fearful to be left alone with your baby, and contemplation about hurting yourself or your baby. We are still unsure as to what causes this, but the good news is that we can treat it!  Untreated postpartum depression can last for several months or years.  If you notice any of the signs above, tell someone and/or inform your doctor immediately.  He or she will be able to link you with counseling, support groups, and medication.

With a whole month dedicated to awareness around postpartum depression I hope this will encourage more mothers to speak up and get the help, care and support they deserve.

From Reacting to Responding

from reacting to responding

 

Being able to move from reacting to responding can be a challenging feat. Honestly, both seem pretty comparable because we often use the words interchangeably; but when using in practice, they are quite different.

Reacting is usually an impulsive, emotional action.  For example, your husband cheats on you. You are angry and hurt. You (react) retaliate by having an affair of your own. You are out on a date with the Mrs. Someone approaches her and is flirting. You are angry and feel disrespected. You (react) punch the dude in the face.

Responding involves simmering your emotional action with logical, critical thinking. Your husband cheats on you. You are angry and hurt. You (respond) take some time to yourself to figure out and explore what you need for resolution. Then you communicate this to your husband. You are out on a date with the Mrs.  Someone approaches her and is flirting. You are angry; you feel disrespected. You (respond) by letting him know she is with you.

Moving from reacting to responding is much easier said than done. But we are all accountable for what comes out of our mouth and how we treat others. The more you practice responding in little every day stressors, you are training your brain to be able to respond instead of react to greater stressors.

Some things that have been helpful to me:

1) Be aware of my body and thoughts.

Are your palms sweaty?  Are your teeth clenching?  Do you have balled up fists?  Are your thoughts racing? Or you can’t think at all? These are all precursors that whatever comes next is probably a reaction and not a response. Resist doing anything when you notice these signs. Take deep breaths.

2) Take a “time-out”

Walking away or ending a conversation is not weak or giving up control.  In fact, reacting often leads to being out of control and living with regrets. Taking a time-out allows for you to explore options and decide what is going to be best. Then you can respond accordingly.

3) Ask yourself, “what do I want the end goal to be?”

After reacting, we often reflect , have regrets and say “hindsight is 20/20.”  In the moment, if we take time to transport to the future, we can determine the best response.

 

What else may be helpful?

Grief and Loss: What To Say

Grief and Loss

 

Watching and supporting a family member or beloved friend experience grief and loss can be difficult.  I know firsthand.  Two people I adore and love are experiencing painful losses, and there have been many times that I wanted to do something to help them, but all I can offer is a listening ear.

There are times we want to help but we don’t want to intrude.  We are at a loss of what to say and unsure of what to do.  Sometimes we do nothing at all because we don’t want to make things worse.   Although we will not be able to take the pain away, we can still listen.  It’s okay to ask them, “do you want to talk?”  If they don’t want to talk, they will let you know.  When you get into those conversations, be sure to avoid responding with these comments:

Instead of “I know” or “I understand” try asking, “how has this been for you?”

The reality is grief and loss is different for every person so you don’t know or understand their unique experience.

Instead of “You must feel _______” try asking, “how do you feel?” or “most people have strong feelings, how has this been for you?”

It’s never helpful to tell people how they feel in any life experiences; this holds true for those experiencing the pain of loss.  Grief is personal and belongs to them.  They may feel a lot of different emotions at one time.  Allow them to name their own feelings.

Instead of “He’s no longer in pain, he’s in a better place”, or “it’s part of God’s plan” try asking, “what memories do you have about___?”  or “what have you been thinking?”

If you try to help them to focus on the good things, it doesn’t allow them to stand in their truth – they are hurting!  Allow them to express their true feelings whatever they may be

Instead of “You should or must get on with your life” try asking, “Have you thought about….?”

First, there are no must’s and should’s in grief.  Second, it’s not your job to solve it.  In fact, you aren’t going to be able to fix it.  Grief is a process and takes time.  If you are concerned for their emotional and mental health, you may try starting with, “have you thought about or considered…?”  In this way, you aren’t telling them what to do; you are only exploring options.