Every day I need to work on my mind and body to stay fit. Healing from Complex PTSD is an ongoing process, particularly getting over my codependency issues.
Growing up with an abusive father I early discerned what to do to avoid him going into a violent tirade. As long as I did not ask for anything, and did what he said even if I did not want to I was safe. Freeze-fawning was my survival response. Not surprisingly, codependency became my personality trait. I have to put everyone first, I am not important – my needs and feelings don’t matter.
Further, to meet my needs for love and acceptance, I learned that if I was helpful to members of my family I would be thrown at least some scraps of acceptance. Sadly, this led to a total annihilation of my sense of self. I was like a puppet, controlled by others.
Stop Saying You Are Fine
Motivational speaker, Mel Robbins in her inspiring TED Talk Stop Screwing Yourself Over says “If you’re crappy, say you’re crappy. If you’re amazing say you’re amazing. Tell the truth.”
Further, she says that when we keep saying we are fine we are denying what we truly want. When you tell others that your depressing situation is fine means you reinforce the fact that you are fine not having that thing that will make life more meaningful and joyful.
How does one change our codependency narrative? That self-deprecating voice that says, this is all that you were meant to be.
Changing The Narrative of Codependency
Adult survivors need to overcome their co-dependency issues if they want to change the narrative of their past. This is not an easy endeavor. For those of us who have grown up being nobodies, suppressing our feelings, needs, and even health so as to not upset our caregivers, it is an uphill task getting in touch with our true selves.
However, we need to understand that though we are not responsible for what happens to us during childhood, it is essential to our future happiness that we become responsible for what happens to us during adulthood.
I constantly need to take steps to prevent my mind from sliding into depression and hopelessness. Even before I get out of bed, I put on my headphones and listen to uplifting guided meditation and positive affirmations. I spend a few minutes saying prayers that are grounding and inspiring. These are the vitamin pills I need to take to keep myself mentally strong and positive.
It has taken time but this self-talk and subconscious reprogramming have worked. No longer am I dependent on the acceptance and validation of others. It so empowering to not give a f^^k about what anyone thinks of me.
Initially, I was filled with insecurities about my value, my goodness. Without a doubt, overcoming my negative self-denial was learning to start putting myself first. It can be frightening and difficult. You are constantly filled with the dread of rejection. Nevertheless, you have to push on, you need to fake it till you feel it. Don’t let self-doubt creep in. Listen to inspiring talks, and read uplifting memoirs.
Remember that you are one in a billion. You don’t have to pretend to be fine, tell yourself that I am going to have a fantastic life. Early morning is the best time to keep re-enforcing and rewiring the negative messages you grew up with. It has taken me repeated affirmations of self-love to change how I feel about myself and my place in the world. It works because our brain is plastic, it can be re-wired with self-care and self-love.
The power of self-love and self-esteem | Caira Lee
Emotional First Aid
Though there are times when past negativity intrudes on me It only takes a small trigger to send my mind hurtling back to the time when I was a helpless child who was denigrated for being a useless human being.
To switch the flow of thoughts back to positive, I need to immediately practice emotional first aid. According to psychologist Guy Winch, we should take care of our minds just as we take care of our bodies. When we are wounded we are given first aid, so we should do the same for our emotional hurts. Accept that you are feeling angry, or feeling rejected, or sad, and take some action to mitigate your hurt feelings, don’t suppress them.
For me, the practice of self-love has meant learning to put my feeling and needs first. I have learned to be assertive and for what I want, instead of compliantly accepting crumbs. I’ve realized that all healthy relationships entail equal serve-and-return – I don’t have to be the only one giving.
After years of being codependent, changing this habitual behavior pattern hasn’t been easy. My sense of well-being was directly connected to being accepted and approved even if it meant totally annihilating myself. I have changed that story of my life by accepting and loving myself. I’ve learned to let go of people who won’t respect and accept me. Life feels less stressful not having to worry about other people.
Image source: Pixabay
Developing Your Backbone: The Science of saying NO – Dr. Anne Brown
Children of Trauma: Rediscovering Your Discarded Self – Jane Middelton-Moz
Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts by Guy Winch
The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins
Free from Lies: Discovering Your True Needs – Alice Miller
The Safest Place Possible: A Guide to Healing and Transformation – Debbie Mirza
Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls – Robert Burney
Letting Go of Good: Dispel the Myth of Goodness to Find Your Genuine Self – Andrea Mathews