OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 6b)


willing to forgive myself –
that is the question!

PREVIOUS“: Outgrowing P-P #4a

SITE: 12 Ways to Accept Yourself



RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome”cont.

Tool 6Healing our CHILDHOOD T.E.A. (cont.)
As we outgrow P-P we can clean out the underlying issue that permeates every part of our life: our Self-Hate, which is blaming ourselves for not getting our needs met. It’s anger/rage at our family turned in on ourselves

Reminder : Healthy, compassionate families, teachers & other leaders guide children with clarity, kindness, patience & humor. They set good examples, teach boundaries & realistic limits, explain the way people & things work, & help each child develop their Natural Self. (Healthy Parenting

That was not our experience. All our childhood emotions, words & actions which were called “too sensitive, disobedient, difficult, selfish, lazy, stupid …..” do not need to be forgiven. Instead, we can look back with sorrow & compassion for what we endured!

SO: Rather than struggling with the idea of having to forgive our youthful acting-out and normal child-reactions, we can benefit the most from Acceptance.  
As we clear out more S-H, we start to outgrow P-P automatically.

+ + Accept reality: We can let go of the – usually unconscious – twisted belief we may still have, that we’re hopelessly bone-deep failures because we originally:
• failed to be the kind of child who was good enough to have elicited love & approval from our parents
• failed to soothe & heal our parents’ many wounds
• failed to stop them from hurting us, each other & our siblings

++ Accept our child’s narcissism as normal, which made us think we had the power to do any of those things. Not! We can understand why we had those misguided ideas, & correct our thinking (the CDs) now, to stop blaming & attacking ourselves for what we believe are inadequacies & deficiencies

++ Accept that the mirroring we got as kids came from cracked mirrors – forcing us to see ourselves thru controlling, cruel, drunk, insensitive, neglectful, raging eyes! What we came to think of as our Self was mainly their sickness projected on to us – which became our Negative Introject. This psychological process – helpful or harmful – happens to every child & is not ‘forgiveness material’.  (Parental Mirroring provides child….)

++. Accept & stop judging ourselves absolutely, totally –  for:
— not being perfect // not knowing everything // making mistakes
— being so scared inside // being controlling // nit-picking
— having depression & the need for medication
— procrastinating or never finishing anything…  basically every opposite of the RIGHTS list

++ Accept that at first we’re going to feel guilt churning in our gut whenever we disobey a Toxic Family Rule, but we will slowly outgrow it.  This is ‘good guilt’ – in the short-term – because it signals doing something healthy for ourselves which goes against all our original crazy training.

The Tibetans have no word for ‘guilty.’ The closest is “Intelligent regret that decides to do things differently.”

++ Accept ourselves as valuable Children of God / HP / the Universe, which helps to stop the cruel inner rant (the WIC or PP) – a choice we can implement every day.
The benefits of self-acceptance are worth the great struggle of having to let go – of releasing the rage at ourselves & our abusers.

The FOUR AGREEMENTS by Miguel Ruiz
Be impeccable with your word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t take anything personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say & do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions & actions of others you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t make assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions & express what you really want. Be as clear as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness & drama.

4. Always do your best
This will change from moment to moment, based on being healthy or sick, young or old, rested or tired…. Under any circumstance, simply do your best & you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

The ability to practice these principles (in all our affairs 🙂) comes from the Healthy Adult. They are never meant to be done perfectly – since that’s not possible. But the more we can incorporate them, the more Co-dependence will fall away.

NEXT: Self-forgiveness as ADULTS


Secretly Angry “Nice” People (Intro-b)


no matter how bad it is!


SITE:You’re Not Allowed To Have Feelings” (in our culture)


UNHEALTHY ‘Nice’ People have low self-esteem. They are:

EITHER co-dependent (Co-dep): over-doing for everyone else, rescuing, self-sacrificing, the ‘good’ one, always ‘up’
OR passive-aggressive (P-A): resistant, obstructive, deliberately forgetful, plotting, ‘innocent’, pretend-incompetent

When we go thru something difficult or painful, and haven’t learned appropriate ways to cope with the Es that come up (usually fear, &/or anger), we’re either not aware of them at all, or dismiss what we’re feeling & find ways to distract ourselves. This stifling is a continuation of how we tried to protect ourselves as kids because we kept being punished for expressing those Es. Now it just keeps us stuck in our own mud.

Aggressive Anger is obvious – shown as verbal threats, screaming, physical blows, breaking / destroying objects or property…. The consequences are usually bad.

Hidden Anger, on the other hand, is subtle & manipulative (Co-dep or P-A), & comes with its own risks & negative outcomes. Behaviors can be so indirect, often not related to anything that’s currently happening, that others either can’t easily catch on, or will be puzzled by it. Angry-nice people behave either as perpetrators or victims,  acting out their hidden rage in such a way as to insure they can keep denying it, & keep their ‘good-guy’ status.

— If the anger is so deeply suppressed that it’s now unconscious, the person will not be able to acknowledge that certain actions or non-actions are a sign of being ‘triggered’ (hurt, scared, frustrated)anger iceberg 2
— If the anger is conscious but concealed, then the unhealthy patterns are deliberate, & can become vindictive : planned to sneakily annoy, hurt or destroy someone they blame for their annoyance or pain.

Either way, ignoring our anger cuts us off from a vitality that could give us the power to forge ahead on our own behalf, leavings us feeling powerless.
Yet many ‘nice’ people are so dedicated to their carefully constructed facade of ‘OK-ness’, they refuse to feel their anger directly & deal with situations that caused it. This prevents any resolution or growth.


For those of us who suffered a great deal of PMES abuse by our family, it’s only natural to have built up a backlog of anger towards drunk, raging, selfish parents, abusive siblings & unsupportive relatives.  As kids we gradually suppressed some or all of that anger (A.) & rage (as well as other painful Es), for 3 major reasons:
1. We were humiliated & abused if we had the nerve to get visibly angry at adults
2. It was (& may still be) too overwhelming to consciously face that our parents truly were/are unsafe, cruel, crazy, addicted, neglectful….
3. We were afraid that our anger would literally harm them – because  children think their emotions have magical powers to injure or kill others
(BOOK:So the Witch Won’t Eat Me“, Dorothy Block. Intro explains it)

Shutting down on painful Es was self-protection.NO anger
If we had to severely stifle our anger, it was because our parents:
— weren’t allowed to feel their own A.
— didn’t know how to deal with strong Es
— didn’t want us A. at them (their Co-dep & FoA)
— only they were allowed to be A.
— wanted to look ‘good’ to everyone else
— refused to be held accountable for what was hurting & therefore making us A.
— were too weak, sick, ‘delicate’ to bear have us challenge them
— believed it was disrespectful or a ‘sin’ to be A…. (‘ACoAs & Anger post)

Sadly, most of us were taught to not have any Es. For some of us – being sad / crying was punished, made fun of, ignored, while for others – our anger was the biggest no-no. So now we either refuse to acknowledge that we do indeed get angry, or are so shut down that we actually believe we never are.
 Instead, we may recognize experiencing some of the following, which are all versions of ANGER:
annoyed, blaming, cranky, impatient, irritated, jealous, ‘justified’, outraged, resentful, self-blaming, over-reaction to being treated unjustly / unfairly, ‘touchy’, vindictive…

NEXT: Intro-c

ACoAs MANIPULATING Self & Others (Part 3a)

Manip chartPREVIOUS: Manipulating OURSELVES (Part 2c)

SITE: Motivation & Manipulation (<—- Graph )

BOOK : “In Sheep’s Clothing”
~ Dr. Geo. Simon, PhD
Re. an extensive repertoire of techniques that can be used to deny personal accountability & to manipulate others  (Extensive outline of book)


Most of us learned to manipulate (based on cognitive distortions) by watching/ living with manipulative parents & other family members, but some come by the skill naturally, & all of us had to use it, one way or another, to cope with the painful, complicated environment we started out in.

M. is a form of ‘acting out’ (Freudian def). Translation for ACoAs:
Compulsively taking actions or ‘forgetting’ to act, as a substitute expression of painful emotions we are not consciously experiencing.

REASONS for manipulating others:
By now, having lived in the world for some decades, we’ve had the oenvypportunity to watching how others function, & envy their ability to get their needs met while we feel stuck in the mud of our damage.
But we have also had many life experiences of our own – some even positive – so we DO know something about how to manage, but rarely if ever apply that info to ourselves – while often using our extensive care-taking skills on others.

This causes intense deprivation in PMES ways, since we are:
• Not allowed to have needs & not allowed to ask for anything
• Assume no one will ever provide for us if we ask directly, will be angry & punish us, the worst being Abandonment – withdrawing their connection to us
• Don’t have a right to give to ourselves (we think it’s arrogance)
• Don’t believe we don’t know how to – not having seen it from role models & not taught directly

confusedThis leaves us confused, ‘starving’, desperate – so we resort to the default position of manipulating – in order to (GOALS):
• prevent others from having power over us
• cover up Self-Hate, Shame, Loneliness
• get needs met from others instead of from self (taken care of)
• show our contempt for everyone, especially authority
• make connections in the only way we know how keep from getting abandoned, ever again (FoA)

FORMs of Manipulation
1. Direct / Overt (“Throwing others on the defensive”)
Bullies come in many guises, sometimes like a spiked hammer, sometimes like a Southern rose, sometimes covered in sheep’s clothing. Each one has gathered an extensive repertoire of techniques used to manipulate others, in order to gain power & deny any accountability for their actions. The Workplace Bullying Institute defines bullying as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators

The overt style is based on deliberate, intense confrontation designed to verbal bullychallenge people’s personal legitimacy, validity of their ‘performance’, or the value of their point, issue or complaint. The goal is to put others on the defensive, & nothing works better to achieve this than intimidation. Tactics can be fired off so quickly that they’re hard to identify & separate, and the slickest maneuvers use several tactics at once.

Most ACoAs hide their aggressive side, sometimes from themselves, but definitely towards others behind the many faces of co-dependence.
Sometimes it only comes out toward strangers, but more often toward their intimates – their mates, children & closest friends.
bylly typesBut the bully/sadist is there, having been created in response to the abuse we suffered for so long – the greater the original abuse, the more intense is our sadist/bully. In Recovery we can make friends with this aspect of ourselves, by acknowledging that “It really was that bad!”, safely venting our rage, & never letting the bully/sadist act out on others or ourselves.

EXP: Drama is often a clear indication of manipulation, its purpose to bury the real issues (personal or relational) in a giant pile of noise.  Includes:
— taking over every conversation, taking up too much space
— knowing how to get their way & insisting on it
— yelling & screaming, threatening or doing physical harm
— not good at sharing – anything
— talking over someone, ignoring all types of boundaries
— pushing their point of view rather than asking questions
— always bragging & showing off, to make others feel small
— pushing their way ahead of others, like in line
— writing / texting attack messages, all verbal abuse
— escalating arguments, not ‘letting go’ ….

Add your own

NEXT: ACoAs Manipulating Self & Others (Part 3b)

ACoAs – What about ANGER? (Part 2)

frustrationI’M SO FRUSTRATED
I don’t know what to do with myself

PREVIOUS: What about anger – Part 1

BOOK: Metaphor & Emotion, seeing the body as container for emotions: “She unleashed her anger, his anger is smoldering, you make by blood boil…..”

QUOTE: “Anger is a GIFT! Anyone can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not within everyone’s power and that is not easy.” ~ Aristotle (More… scroll to 2/9/12)

Anger: An emotional state varying in intensity from mild irritation to fury, a temporary & episodic reaction to a frustrating situation. / A strong, uncomfortable emotional response to something unwanted & not fitting with our values, beliefs or rights (pushing our buttons)
Irritability: a milder emotional reaction to minor annoyances that can happen in the course of our daily routine

Aggression: An intentional desire to harm someone or something
Rage: When there is loss of self-control so that anger explodes, sometime into completely irrational behavior, sometimes very deliberate!
Hostility: A specific personality characteristic expressed as a chronic antagonistic, mistrustful emotional state, along with a negative mental attitude toward people & the word in general.

BASICs the more we know about anything, the easier it is to understand, deal with & be in charge of it. So it is with of anger.
1. Anger is a perfectly normal emotion – created by the physiology of our mind and body. It’s not only universal, but absolutely necessary, and NOT something to be cured as if it were a disease. Anger is a healthy reaction to a grievance, so one of its positive intentions is to focus our attention – so we can modify or eliminate an aggravation or abuse, wherever possible. The benefits of appropriate expressions of anger include overcoming our fears, & building confidence to respond to threats, danger & mistreatment.E. HEAT map

2. Anger, like all emotions, is actual energy – no matter how intense – scientifically proven, as seen on these scans.
Heat maps of emotions —->
The problem is not in having the emotion (E), but rather in what we’re saying (T) to ourselves about a situation which greatly upsets us, & the kind of behavior we use to express it, based on what we learned as kids. We need to FEEL our anger, but we do not always need to outwardly ACT on it!

3. Anger is considered one of the secondary emotions – a response to primary Es such as intense FEAR (from being abandoned, attacked, disrespected, forced, offended, pressured, trapped…..). This does not mean they are unimportant or to be ignored.
They are secondary because they’re a composite of other more fundamental ones (Plutchik), AND because they cannot tell us directly what the underlying unmet need is, only that something is wrong.

•  However, they are a very useful starting point. Instead of being afraid of them, we can successfully use anger, guilt, anxiety…. as helpful indicators of what’s going on underneath, giving us the opportunity (& choice) to ‘fix’ the real lack, which would then make us feel better. The problem for ACoAs with solving this Q. (‘What’s missing?’) is that we’re not allowed to know what we really feel NOR what we actually need. So those have to become part of our understanding & daily vocabulary before anger can be a useful tool.

4. Anger is part of the Wood Element – which governs the eyes, gallbladder, FiveChart2liver, & tendons. In the short-term, & by itself (without action), the emotion itself is not harmful. But because it is energy, generated by chemicals in the brain, we can damage ourselves in PMES ways when we suppress the anger / rage, especially for a long time. The chemicals can ‘fester’
inside & cause a variety of problems.

Denied anger results in lowered quality of life, causing mental & emotional numbness, which can then draw us toward violent situations as a release. It will also negatively effect many parts of the body, such as the:
— Muscular (tightness) and Immune (over-worked) systems
— Liver – causing decision-making abilities to be diminished
— Gall bladder – causing gallstones (condensed anger) & migraines
● At the other extreme is acting out the anger in ways that directly injure ourselves and others – especially when aimed at children.

5. How each person reacts (emotional intensity & behavior patterns) is formed by a combination of: genetic predispositions, cognitive problem solving skills, learned behaviors & past experiences

6. NEVER think or talk about anger & other uncomfortable / ‘unacceptable’ /painful emotions as negative! Anything designated as a negative is automatically considered bad – which in this case means we should not be angry, under any circumstances.  NOT so. Without feeling & owning legitimate anger we are easily abused, frightened & manipulated – & so become or stay victims.range of Es

REMINDER – in TEA terms – Thoughts & Actions can be either
Positive, Negative or Neutral, but never EMOTIONS, which can range from:  most Joyful <—–> to most Painful (+/- 100), with the calmest, pleasantest in the mid-range (+/- 20).

: ACoAs – What about anger? – Part 3


la-la land 

to suppress the pain

Previous:Deliberate or not?

SEE ACRONYM Page for abbrev.


NOTE: Most people are capable of emotional abuse (E.A.) because most people have experienced E.A. as children. Sooner or later, they treat others the way their family treated them. They act out their parents, just as they act out their wounded child. Even though we too are guilty of many of these negative patterns, the focus here is on breaking out of our denial, to make us aware, as much as possible, of how & when others act badly toward us, which ACoAs have a habit of ignoring, mis-identifying or not noticing, because it’s so familiar.

a. Any compulsive behavior you don’t consciously choose but can’t seem to stop yourself from doing, or compulsively not doing….
b. …. which expresses intense emotions you’re not actually feeling at the time, but that are rumbling under the surface
• This term is usually assumed to mean overt actions, against oneself or towards others – getting drunk, starting a fight, being late for work, being promiscuous … but it just as often includes the lack of specific actions that would be good for you (like walking out on a bad date) or legitimate actions you planned on (making a call, going to a job interview), i.e. genuinely forgetting to doing something.

EXP: You’ve made an appointment with a new therapist & consciously – you’re looking forward to it. The time is on your calendar & you remind yourself of it the day before. Then you go thru the whole day without showing up for the spacing outappointment – without any awareness if it – until late that night as you’re falling asleep. “Oh No! I forgot all about it, & I really meant to go!”

• This kind of complete spacing out can be short-term, periodic or long-term, but uses the same psychic mechanism as Denial, where the lack of awareness is long-term. In this exp. the ‘forgetting’ represents the WIC’s un-felt but intense FEAR of being vulnerable with a new authority/ parent figure who may or may not be safe.
✶ ✶ So in the future, when we’ve done something (or not) that seems baffling, inappropriate, even out of character, we have a little formula for figuring out why: Dig a bit into yourself to identify what emotions were hiding out of sight but desperately needed to be expressed – somehow!

Denial allows us to look for & stay with abusers, is potentially life threatening, & definitely damages us psychologically!

a. As with many other psych terms ‘Denial’ is typically mis-used, in many settings, to mean: Deliberately ignoring something we know but don’t want to deal with. This is not Denial.
When people say “I just won’t think about it. I’ve put it out of my mind… ” they’re referring to ‘suppression’, which is a conscious decision. Of course, if what we’re trying to push down was traumatic, the emotional pain caused by the event may be festering in a dark corner, & eventually comes out in some others form – as hidden or direct rage at others, &/or being self-destructive.

b. Genuine psychological ‘Denial’ is NOT deliberate – it’s the “failure to acknowledge an unacceptable truth or emotion by not allowing it into consciousness, used as a defense mechanism”. In other words, the true meaning of Denial is that we don’t know we don’t know (something)! – either about ourselves or about someone else, even tho it may perfectly obvious to others. This ‘skill’ come from years of training in childhood, from Toxic Family Rules & our own need for emotional survival. Usually it takes a lot of work to bring up long-buried information & pain to awareness, but once in a while some life event can cause a chunk of it to shake loose & shoot to the surface like an erupting volcano, overwhelming us with panic.

• One way to counter Denial and Suppression is to carefully pay attention to what we see & hear.PAY ATTENTION People tell us about themselves all the time, which we would pick up on, if only we acknowledged it. Repeatedly ignoring what’s in front of us is wounding to our sanity & our soul! But once we become aware of abusive patterns we’ll notice them everywhere – in songs, movies, our family & friends, at work…. The opposite of Denial is ‘Being in the now’, also called ‘Mindfulness’, making it easier TO:
— notice of what we’re feeling, needing, wanting, responding to, every day… AND
— keep us awake to who others are, how they act, what they’re saying…. & how we feel when we’re with them

• True – we need to be taught what to listen for watch & listening for, so having the correct information is imperative. But many times – when it’s too late & we’ve already crawled out on a limb & then fallen off, we say: “I should have known. I had a sneaking suspicion, but I just couldn’t believe it. I noticed a few things, but I thought I was just over-reacting. I didn’t think it wasn’t such a big deal. Other parts of them are so wonderful. I don’t want to be alone. I was too afraid to say anything. I didn’t want to admit it….”

To stop choosing abusive people & situation OR to be able to get out of them much faster, we need both – accurate & sufficient info about harmful traits in others AND to be mentally & emotionally awake to all of our feelings – especially around certain people.

NEXT: Dealing with Abusers #1

Types of Self-Control (Part 1)

in control 

Others or myself?

PREVIOUS: Letting go of Controlling -#3

SEE posts: Personal Responsibility // UNIT: Healthy Adult, Loving Parent

REMINDER: Go to Acronym PAGE for abbrev.

Def. of CONTROL, from the dictionary: To exercise authority over, direct & command -OR- to hold back, curb, restrain – self or others.
BTW, In case it’s not clear – control is about power!  The power to make someone do or be what we want them to. When applied to ourselves –
• we can use that power well – to heal & nurture ourselves & express our best to the world – OR
• when used as a defense mechanism to deny & cover up our pain, that same power is debilitating & destructive

Objective Control: What is measurable, and psychologically or practically achievable – given the person’s age, genetics, native abilities & leaned skills.
However, the perception of control (whether accurate or not) influences people’s behaviors and emotions more strongly than actual control.

Perceived Control: ‘generalized expectancy for internal, as opposed to external, control of reinforcements’.  It is people’s sense of how effective they are in the world, based on who is sitting at the control panel of their life, which has a great impact on their physical & mental health.at the helm
It will depend on —
Contingency: deciding if a particular outcome is controllable or not
Competence: thinking that we are capable of creating a desired outcome OR can avoid / suppress an undesirable result or not

• People generally attribute one of the following broad causes (reasons) for arriving at a goals or receiving rewards:
Internal Stable : self-determined by our own ability & personal mastery (“It’s due to me”)
Internal Unstable : how much effort we put out, & for how long
External Stable : objective task characteristics & level of difficulty, OR outcomes created by powerful others (“It’s due to them”)
External Unstable: chance, fate, karma (“It’s just luck”)

• ‘Internals’ believe they have general control in life, and specific control over areas such as health, intellectual functioning, memory & relationships. They tend to be highly motivated to achieve, have low outer-directedness & believe they’re able to successfully take actions needed to achieve their goals (Read more about ‘Locus of Control’)

Believing in our ability to control outcomes is necessary to be successful in life, as long as it’s based in reality. 
BUT, many unhealed people only have the Illusion of Control, assuming they have power over people, places & things – when they do not. This is a type of fantasy & narcissistic grandiosity – used as a band-aid to cover feelings of S-H & powerlessness, instead of finding & expressing the empowering energy of our True Self.

It’s what drives symbiotic, co-dependent ACoAs to believe we can do the impossible – control everything & everyone else by our thinking and actions – anything to avoid working on own damage!   See the 3 Cs’ of Al-Anon and the Serenity Prayer.

LOCUS of Control – what we believe causes the end-result of situationsexternals
a. External: Outcomes are outside of our control, determined by ‘fate’ & independent of our hard work or decisions (belief of most ACoAs). Such people tend to be more stressed and prone to clinical depression
FoO sources: most often have a lower socioeconomic status because social unrest increases the expectancy of being out-of-control, come from large single parent families headed by women, &/or if parents are themselves ‘externals’internals

b. Internal: Outcomes are within our control, determined by our attributes, decisions & hard work.  Overall, these people are happier & more successful.  They come from families who emphasize effort, education, responsibility and thinking, where parents are warm, supportive, encouraging, give their children the rewards they promised & are consistent in self-discipline. (Quiz at MindTools )

• Western culture is so focused on DO-ing, that we think of any topic only in those terms. For ACoAs, unhealthy self-control is not just about stopping ourselves from taking harmful or unacceptable actions, but is more often an internal self-denial.  While ‘acting out’ (a visible lack of restraint) causes obvious problems for ourselves & others, too much internal self-control (being uptight) can also create distress, such as social isolation, poor relationships & the development of severe, difficult-to-treat mental health problems (anorexia, chronic depression….)

Using over-self-control to delay gratification: researcher David C. Funder observed that those who keep putting off getting a reward for their efforts (like too many ACoAs) are not actually better at self-control, but seem compulsively disciplined, unable to be any other way!
➼ Ironically – this way of functioning is definitely a loss of control.

✶ With Recovery, ACoAs come to understand & accept Point b. However, we do not have 100% control – over everything, (contrary to some Teachings) as pointed out in Step 1: “We admitted we were powerless over…….”.  To believe otherwise is called grandiosity!

See LIST of characteristics re. Internal or External focus

NEXT: Types of Self-Control (Part 2)