OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 8a)


I CAN BE FREE OF some GUILT
if I admit when I mess things up

PREVIOUS: Outgrow co-dep (#4d)

SITEs: “How to apologize : Asking for forgiveness gracefully” 

RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome” (TNS) cont.

Tool 6. FORGIVEN by OTHERS
DEF – It is when someone we’ve hurt:
grants pardon for or absolves us of a mistake or wrongdoing
• no longer blames or feels resentment toward us
• frees us from a previous obligation or penalty

QUOTEs: “A relationship is only as strong as each individual’s capacity to forgive and ask for forgiveness.”
“Apologizing does not always mean you are wrong, & the other person is right. It can mean you value the relationship more than your ego.”

ASKING for Forgiveness
We know that a component of Co-dep fake-niceness is the desire to hide our guilt at having been less than honorable toward others. Clearing out some of the underbrush of our moth-eaten defenses (P-P) means being willing to ‘make amends’ for our negative reactions, whenever possible. This begins with telling the truth about our behavior, without over- or under- stating it.

A FEW problem areas that can harm others:
Being controlling, close-minded, dependent, dishonest, judgmental, narcissistic, prejudiced, perfectionistic, superior …..
For more, refer to the 3 posts ‘How ACoAs abandon others & both Laundry Lists

AA’s Step 8 : Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all

Step 9 Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others

► While implementing the 9th Step is for our personal growth, it should not be taken without serious thought & preparation. It’s not going to help our healing if we don’t have a genuine desire to mend the breach with someone, but only do it because we’re supposed to, or are only thinking of how it will benefit ourselves.
That narcissistic approach will likely anger the other person, & leave us confused & bitter.
Making amends is about ‘amending’ our ways, otherwise a verbal apology is hollow.

But, before we can consider asking to be forgiven, we need to look at who we’re going to apologize to & exactly for what. (‘Making amends is more than an apology)

1. WHO: Note that Al-Anon/AA Step #8 says “be willing“, but #9 cautions “except when.…”.
• In some cases we’ll never be able to connect with the person we owe an amends to because they’re simply not available – from death, unknown location, or not wanting any contact with us. Then go back to Step 5 to put that specific event to rest.

• Also, there are times when telling someone what we did to-or-against them will hurt them much more than silence, if they were unaware of our misdeeds. Always consider the consequences of your words. It’s not their job to make you feel better!

• And, just because some unhealthy people accuse us of being abusive when we accidentally push their buttons, don’t do what they want or don’t agree with them, set a boundary or stand up for ourselves….. (because they don’t feel safe unless everyone is apologizingtheir carbon copy), it does NOT mean we owe them an apology.

💛 We can acknowledge their feelings by saying we understand they don’t like something we did or said – or not. Period. Don’t add buts, excuses or explanations. As long as you know you’re being true to yourselves in that situation – you’re OK.
We are responsible for being as ‘clean’ in motive & action as we can, but NOT for how others react – regardless of our behavior.

NEXT: Forgiven for WHAT (#8b)

OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 7c)


IT’S GOOD TO KNOW
I have lots of options

PREVIOUS: Forgiving our Adult #6b

SITE: An artist’s COMMITMENT to life

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome” (TNS) cont.

Tool 5c. FORGIVING Ourselves – as ADULTS is to:
1. LET GO of old patterns (As), harsh judgements & pointless comparisons (Ts)
————-
See “Letting go means….“, and to:
2. GIVE UP torturing ourselves for all the ways we’ve messed up (T.E.As)

GROWTH
• Use these 18 steps to process any Ts, Es or As you feel guilty about, as a way to take responsibility
• Write down what you’ve learned from all the tools (1-5) you’ve been using & any actions you’ve taken to repair or make amends. Let this sink in. Appreciate yourself.
• Decide what if anything remains to be done – inside your own heart or out in the world – and then do it. Let it sink in that you’re doing it, & appreciate yourself for this, too.
• Consciously continue forgiving yourself when needed:
“I forgive myself today for ______ , knowing that even with self-defeating T.E.A.s I am a good person with the RIGHT to be valued & loved. I take responsibility for my life (but not for other adults) & do what I could to make things better.”

PRACTICE Self-Forgiveness. Give yourself the empathy you always craved as a child. (“Is self-love selfish?” 10 good Answers)
Every morning look in the mirror & say to yourself:
❤️
I love you. I am grateful for another day
❤️ I am accountable for my decisions & actions today
❤️ I forgive me for anything that was not forgiven last night
❤️
I love you. Have a great day! 

And each evening, look & say:
💜 I love you. I am sorry for anything left undone today
💜 I am sorry for any fearful decisions & actions today
💜 I forgive myself, & am grateful for total forgiveness
💜 I accept & enjoy ALL my blessings. I love you. Sleep well. (MORE…..)

NOTE: Compassion is wired in from birth, and is good for us & for humanity. (But as ACoAs we know it can be cruelly suppressed by family & community!)

Other suggestions
Putting time & caring into each activity will reinforce your determination to outgrow co-dep & re-connect with your Natural Compassion. REPEAT often!
• Write a letter to your WIC listing all the things you’re ‘let go‘ of on his/her behalf
Build a visual bridge from here to where you want to be
• Write a 3rd person story or poem as the narrator, about how the main character (you) has / can / will free themselves of guilt & shame

• Create a tangible expression of old painful experiences & your fondest wishes:
sand tray art, and adult many topic ideas
– a collage, drawings or junk sculptures (Google images) to express emotions

• Make a memory bracelet or necklace with a colored bead or charm for every time you have already forgiven yourself, & add one when you do so from now on (w/ memory wire)

• Do something physical you enjoy – to release anger & hurt (run, bike, dance, t’ai chi, yoga, swim…..)
• Use Trauma Release work on unfinished business:
= Several methods scroll down // About the Pain Body  // Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises // Dealing with Recent or Childhood Trauma

►  The benefits of letting go & acceptance are worth the great struggle of having to outgrow our damage – by releasing the rage at ourselves & our abusers.

NEXT:

OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 7a)


I HAVE A LOT OF WORK
ahead of me!

PREVIOUS: Outgrow co-dep (#4b)

SITEs: • “How is Forgiveness Possible?“- a philosophical essay, complex & interesting

 

RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome”(cont.)
Tool 5c. FORGIVING Ourselves – as ADULTS is to:
1. LET GO of old patterns (As), harsh judgements & pointless comparisons (Ts) ————- See “Letting go means….“, and to:
2. GIVE UP torturing ourselves for all the ways we’ve messed up (T.E.As)

IN ADULTHOOD
The many ways we have hurt ourselves & other people has been the result of our specific personality’s reactions to a very unhealthy upbringing. To outgrow co-dep it’s crucial to accept that, like everyone else, our dysfunction was a predictable outcome of our childhood experiences. We need to identify our ‘character defects’ in the light of our early training – instead of assuming they represent our basic self.

ACoA 4th Step: “We made a searching and blameless inventory of our parents because, in essence, we had become them” (Posts: Family Inventory //Their attitudes).
Co-dependent fake niceness tries to hide our angry disappointment at not being loved & cared for by our family. So we’re horrified at the suggestion that we might have  turned into a version of them. “NOT ME! I’ll never let myself drink too much, yell at & beat my mate & kids, lay around like a queen bee, be so controlling, be unfair, be poor, throw things, cheat, gamble, lie, pretend everything’s fine when it’s not…

AND YET, maybe only on the inside, we’re just as judgemental about others, hard on ourselves, afraid & insecure, be fake, skeptical or naive, afraid of intimacy …. as them. And we don’t want anyone to know, not even ourselves.
Yes, our long-term self-defeating behaviors are indeed aspects of our parents, incorporated into & modified by the WIC. But when we accept that, then self-blame can be stopped by self-forgiveness, both for all the things that were out of our control, & all the things we’ve done compulsively (unconsciously) out of damage.

We can start with the inventory of our beliefs, fears, resentments, interaction with others…. and this includes all our positive qualities, skills & experience. This is not an easy task. Many of us find it difficult to identify our good qualities because of rotten mirroring, much less our ‘wrongs’, which we’re too proud to admit to, or too ashamed.
TRY using the: Workbook re. ACoA 12 stepsand the Laundry List Workbook

As adults we are responsible for our actions, so now we have the option to make the changes that will improve our life. It helps to separate our T.E.A.s. correctly, into:
— moral faults : based on our personal value system, things we feel shame, guilt & remorse about, which need an appropriate proportion of repair or penalty
— weaknesses : things that would be best corrected, but don’t reserve punishment
— normal human activities & feelings which are not to be judged at all

It will benefit us most if we identify these categories with a compassionate heart. Then we can decide what to keep & what to work on outgrowing. Our Time-Line Inventory will show recurring patterns.

ACoA Step 5 : “We admitted to our Higher Power, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our childhood abandonment.
Once we have our personal ‘wounded’ list, & share it with H.P., a sponsor, therapist &/or wise friend…. we have a blueprint to work from – for ourselves & in relation to others in our life.
NOTE that it doesn’t say ‘our defects’, because that label leads ACoAs to think it’s our ‘core badness’. Instead, Abandonment leads to —> Self-hate, which leads to —-> acting out woundedness, which are expressions of our False Self.

To give us courage to face the daunting & terrifying task of these steps, #s 6-9 are helpful, as we take them in, & apply them.  READ: Realistic Recovery

NEXT: Self-Forgiveness (#4d)

OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 6a)

THIS PART IS
the hardest of all

PREVIOUS“: Outgrowing P-P , #4a

SITE: I Forgive Myself for…… from ‘Journey of Be’, scroll to 9/2015

QUOTE: “You’re the Average of the 5 people You spend the Most Time with”
Jim Rohn “The Art of Exceptional Living”

<—— ARTWORK from Tiny Buddha

 

RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome”cont.

‘FORGIVING’ OURSELVES only applies to us as adults (next 2 posts), when the brain is capable of self-direction – understanding that the ‘character defects’ of the False Self were developed in childhood, which we had no control over.

Tool 6. Healing our CHILDHOOD T.E.A.s is to:
1. LET GO of our Self-hate (E) & endless recriminations (Ts) re. the past
————- See “Letting go means….“, and to:
2. GIVE UP the compulsion to keep punishing ourselves & stay miserable (Es)

Review: As earlier posts have indicated, the underpinnings to co-dep / P-P ‘niceness’ is unexpressed anger / rage. And under that is a vast sewer of stuffed emotions, the majority being fear/terror, but also disappointment, loneliness, longing, sadness, despair….. Cleaning out our damage includes facing & dealing with our anger at our family as well as all our other T.E.As.
It means having compassion for ourselves & being in the present.

Judgements: Along with forgiving others who have wronged us, we are told to ‘Forgive yourself’– but it’s not always clear which part of our life that refers to. Presumably it’s for all our ‘bad’ behavior, at any age.
This is tricky, because ACoA co-deps can take this to mean that our self-defeating patterns prove what our family said all along – that our very essence is bad/evil, which is why we’re supposed to need absolution.
Those unloving messages get added to children’s minds who combine Being & Doing into one thing.  So, still run by our WIC, ACoAs are plagued by the toxic rule: “I act bad because I am bad”, which we frantically try to hide with perfectionism& P-P.

REALITY:
If this were true then there could be no Recovery, no second chances, no spiritual healing & growth!
We need to “come to believe” that we are not bad & therefore unlovable, but rather severely wounded, as well as perfectly imperfect!

The starting point for all recovery is working to eliminate as much S-H as possible. See: Self-Hate & ACoAs, & counter it with ‘Emotional Needs & Resources, as well as ‘Emotional Maturity’ andACoAs & Self-esteem‘.

CHILDHOOD
(As)
ACTIONS: When being encouraged to see that S-H is a destructive lie, many ACoAs will counter by pointing out how difficult or bratty they were as teens, or even younger – as proof of their inherent ‘badness’.
Yes, some kids are quieter & some more rambunctious. But much of what our parents considered ‘misbehaving’ was a combination of:
a. our copy of & direct reactions to all the craziness we were stuck in
b. many perfectly normal kid ways – but mislabeled by unhealthy parents
(“10 Ways Kids Appear to Be Bad but Aren’t“)

(Ts) THINKING: The 2 categories of actions were based on:
a. the unique magical thinking of all children, who have a self-centered focus & a limited knowledge about how the world works
b. the many distortions & omissions fed to our growing brains by abusive parents, school, religion, our neighborhood & culture…..

(Es) EMOTIONS: (see list above) ACoAs often say they “feel crazy”- which is actually a cognitive issue, not emotional – because, growing up, most things truly didn’t make sense. It made our world chaotic & unpredictable, which is very scary to any child, who needs to feel safe as much as to feel loved.

THIS leads us back to self-forgiveness.
Forgiveness is always used in relation to having done something wrong. But as children much of what was labeled wrong about us was not! It doesn’t mean we were angels – far from it.  But every day we had to cope with extremely painful & frightening events. So it’s not appropriate or relevant to use the concept of forgiveness toward ourselves as children – for the survival strategies we developed in dire circumstances. There is nothing to forgive.

NEXT: Self-Forgiveness – in childhood (#4b-2)

OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 5b)


IT’S NOT EASY
to heal old wounds

PREVIOUS: Forgiving others #—

SITE: 15 things Forgiveness DOESN’T mean….

 

RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome” (TSN) cont.

Tool 5a.
FORGIVING
OTHERS
(
DEF. in Part 4a)

Forgiving others is either:
1. about repairing relationships, to re-instate broken or lost trust, OR

2. letting go of the relationships because it cannot be repaired

NOTE: Forgiving in no way implies trusting the other person, nor does it guarantee the continuation of the relationship.

To repair a broken connection, both parties must be willing to participate.
• In some cases only one person has caused the problem – which they must own up to, & the aggrieved person will have to be willing to forgive. But forgiving a wound (letting of anger & resentment) does not guarantee a reinstatement of trust. That has to be earned by the wounder, & that takes time.

Some relationships CAN NOT be fixed & some shouldn’t be. This is especially true when someone has persistently acted badly. Do not ignore this!
There are situations where it’s not worth the effort to repair a relationship. No matter how hard we try, it’s not going to work, because the other person is won’t to meet us half way, unwilling to consider what motivates their disruptive behavior. Without that willingness, they will not change.

TOXIC people must be avoided whenever possible. If we were exposed to one or more for any length of time, we need to get away from them as soon as possible, & then heal the aftereffects – on our own, using all our tools – so they don’t keep hurting us (inside) even once they’re gone.

• In other cases two people have butted heads, each hurting the other – reacting from unhealed damage. If the relationship is worth salvaging – to both – then each will need to go to their separate corners to figure out what in their own background set them off. Then eventually come together to share their awarenesses, using only ‘-I-‘ statements.

This too is usually a slow process. Sometimes it will allow the relationship to continue – maybe stronger, maybe not.
OR – it will serve the purpose of each one knowing their side of the street is clean, but may force them to see they’re really not compatible going forward. Then the parting can be sad, but it eliminates residual guilt & regret.

GROWTH
Letting go of anger (Es) & resentments (Ts) is internal, which must then be expressed externally by changing old patterns into healthy ACTIONS (As).

++ CHOICES – We’re responsible now for choosing to surround ourselves with people who are self-caring, positive & kind. Then there would be a lot less to forgive!  Recovery means being much more discerning about who we trust. Since people tell us about themselves all the time – believe them! So it’s not actually them we should trust, but ourselves. We can work our way out of denial by carefully listening to & observing what others put out & then admit what we see & hear – especially when there is a persistent pattern to someone’s erratic /cruel /narcissistic / unavailable behavior

++ SPEAKING UP – As we outgrow P-P we can be much less ready to automatically forgive & forget’ indiscriminately. It’s not in anyone’s best interest. Repeatedly overlooking bad behavior in others not only harms us, but can also seriously effect our loved ones, friends & co-workers who are around the acting out, to everyone’s detriment. Being emotionally mature includes holding people accountable for their inconsistencies & incompetence, for not keeping their agreements, for damage they create, for abusive or disrespectful things they say…..

++ SELF-PROTECTION – At the same time we can avoid blaming others. In the present, if someone hurts our feelings or injures us in some other way, we must ask them to stop. We are not responsible for their reactions to that.  If they won’t stop, we can remove ourselves or at least keep our distance. We are not responsible for what the other person did or did not do – only for our Es & the way we handle it (As).
EXP: If someone steps on your toes, that’s on them. Definitely say OUCH! & move your foot.  If they keep stepping on it, that’s on you, for staying close enough for them to do it again & again.

NEXT: Accepting ourselves – in Childhood

OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 5a)

I DON’T KNOW
if I’ll ever be able to

PREVIOUS: Outgrowing P-P #3

SITEs: PMES forms of Self-Care 
• 30 day challenge, to make changes

RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome” (TSN) cont.

Tool 5a. FORGIVING OTHERS
DEF:
a. To LET GO of our anger  (Es= the emotion), and our resentments (Ts= the angry thoughts /obsessions) toward anyone whose offenses, flaws or mistakes have seriously injured us   (See “Letting go means….“), and
b.  To GIVE UP the desire to punish, seek revenge or exact payment

ACoAs
The mental health, Recovery & religious communities keep telling us we must forgive others in order to move on, insisting it must happen before healing can occur. This may be true for some people, but doesn’t really work for most ACoAs.
Forgiveness is important, but it’s not that easy to extend it to all the damaging & crazy mates, friends, bosses…. we’ve collected along the way, & especially not toward the adults who tortured & neglected us as kids.
There are things done to us that are – or seem to be – unforgivable.

▶︎ For ACoA angry-nice people forgiveness IS about ‘letting go’ – but not first. Instead, it is the outcome of the process of gradually releasing layers of old pain, combined with developing the UNIT, so that we don’t need all those ‘unavailables’ anymore.

This takes a lot of time & effort, & maybe forgiving our abusers will never be complete because of the amount & intensity of trauma we suffered, but we are worth the effort to try, & that effort ends up benefiting every part of our life.

Not getting our rage out (& the tears underneath) is what keeps us stuck in obsession, which we’ve covered over with denial & then express as P-P angry-niceness. It will continue to plague us as long as we’re still desperate for their (unavailable) love & acceptance. Our WIC wants the Perpetrators to admit what they did, to genuinely feel sorry & to apologize. This rarely happens, so don’t hold your breath! Our anger is appropriate, but it must finally be vented safely so we don’t have to keep carrying its corrosive effect. (“How to forgive” – even if they never apologize!)

ACoAs live in one extreme or the other about almost everything.
As adult we are responsible for our Ts, Es & As, but as angry ‘nice people’ (P-P) we are afraid to admit our emotions & opinions, instead taking on the burden of other people’s feelings, especially if we love or need them, & especially if they’re acting needy or aloof. This comes from a set of opposites, a double message that becomes our bind :
— the WIC’s narcissistic desire to symbiose (be the same as me), AND
— the compulsion to escape from being ourselves (from S-H)

So, as long as we’re being run by the wounded child,
— we either refuse to even consider letting go (forgiving), or
— we’re too easy on everyone who hurt us.
Taking the High Road is more likely a way of staying in denial than it is of being emotionally free.

► Forgiving requires some mental & emotional distance from our wounds, by:
— having done enough venting of our old pain in safe ways
— having had our childhood experiences validated by people who understand
— having gotten enough correct info so our thinking is clearer
— having good enough boundaries so we can take care of ourselves
— having developed a healthy Adult to be more in charge of our choices

A VISUAL : We can think of our many painful memories as a series of pictures in a large gallery in our head – each one with an art lamp over it, the cord plugged into the wall at the baseboard. For us – the light is all the emotions attached to each memory, plugged into our nervous system.
A little at a time, by crying, raging, talking them thru & being validated –  in safe places – the plug can get pulled out of the wall. We’ll still be able to see the images, but they will be in shadow because much of the pain will be gone. THAT is letting go. That is the forgiveness that benefits us.

NEXT: Recovery – Forgiving ourselves (#5b)

OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 3)

  

IT’S A BALANCING ACT
but it’s worth it to me

PREVIOUS: Outgrowing Co-dep, #2

MEN:  Stop Being a “Nice” Guy

WOMEN – Don’t be so nice

 

RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome” (TNS) cont.

Tool #3  ASSERTIVENESS (cont.)
As we practice self-care & accept things the way they really are, rather than how we would like them, we can be more direct in protecting ourselves. This makes P-P less & less necessary.

++ Don’t excuse your opinions (T), they are a part of you, even if only for the moment. However, to be sure of what we think & feel, we must first identify all those long-held ideas we had to swallow whole from our family, & separate them out from what we truly believe for ourselves. There are some things we can be sure of, unequivocally: “I know what I know”. But we can’t know everything – certainly not what others are thinking or feeling, unless they say – & we don’t have to know everything. If you believe in yourself, you’ll always want to keep learning AND won’t be ashamed to correct any ignorance or misconceptions

++ Identify your boundaries. We all have the need for personal space, a greater amount for some than for others. P-P generally deny this need, believing that not setting limit is the only way to keep people attached to us, (symbiosis). Trying to meld with each person we interact with means constantly taking on a new fake persona. At least when actors do that they get paid! And trying to be what others want or copying them – never gets us the pay-off we’re hungry for. Keeping this up year after year takes a lot of energy & creativity, but is ultimately exhausting AND ineffective! Remember “Zelig”?

++ Don’t shy away from conflict or confrontations. A basic philosophical tenet of martial art is to a) know how to defend yourself, if attacked, but b) never start the fight if you can avoid it. Following this 2-part principle psychologically is crucial to having a safer life. Books like “The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-defense” by S.H. Elgin, give us several excellent ‘weapons’.

When we start setting boundaries, some people will be confused & others will be angry – who may give you a hard time – since they’re used to you automatically giving in to whatever they want from you.

No matter how scary it is at first to deal with push-back, if you’re sure of your beliefs or needs, stick to your guns. Some of those reactors might even apologize later.
Eventually the right people will get used to the new you, even admire & respect the changes. The ones who can’t get with the new program will fall away. “Man’s rejection is God’s protection.”

Tool 4. RIGHTS
++
To outgrow P-P we need a replacement for the Toxic Rules that drive our co-dependence. We need to know our RIGHTS.

☁︎ BTW – How we use Language is as important in the quest for ‘sanity’ as other factors. The words & phrases we choose either help or hinder our progress.  A questionable statement we hear often is:“You deserve it” / or / “I deserve to…..”
The problem is the word ‘deserve’. Sounds OK? Well, in terms of actual meaning, ‘deserve’ refers to whatever is given as a reward for acceptable, special or difficult behavior (as in: “Here is your A+ / medal / Oscar / gold watch…..you deserve it”). It is something you earned, which is OK, since it’s good to be recognized & honored for accomplishments.

BUT, using ‘deserve’ in the context of personal growth is misguided, because it implies that our worth is based on how much & how well we DO thingsThis reinforces our difficult childhood, when we were only acceptable (if at all) on condition of how well we conformed to dysfunctional rules, instead of being loved unconditionally for just being here.

So, connecting “I deserve …..” with self-worth is a subtle distortion, disguised as Recovery, which ignores our BE-ing. The implied message is: “Produce or lose!” It sneakily tells us that we have to keep on earning validation for things which in fact are universal Human needs (love, freedom, respect, identity, guidance, dependability….), & therefore should not have to be struggled for. This deep-rooted negative assumption is why we keep trying to be perfect & please everyone.

NEXT: Outgrowing P-P #4