OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 1)

speak up for me
(I hope no one minds 🙄)

PREVIOUS : Neg EXTERNAL results from others (#2)

SITE : 45 Confidence Exercises…..

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome” (TNS)

Undoing our TNS isn’t accomplished by becoming a nasty bully or resentful isolate. Instead, we can apply the wisdom which the Snake of fable had not understood – that occasionally it’s necessary to hiss! Emotional maturity is about balancing between being well-behaved & putting our foot down when needed. BTW – both are only effective when coming from our Healthy Adult E.S. Ironically, being too nice also does others a disservice – preventing them from being their best, by giving their Inner Brat opportunities to come out & play whenever they feel like it – on our head!

The following TOOLS, used all together, can move us along in the right direction, (from Damage—–>——>——-> to Wellness), but if we’ve been a life-long people-pleaser, it’s going to take time, patience & perseverance. Remember ODAT & never give up!

++ “Getting it” in your bones that you didn’t cause your need to develop co-dependence (Co-dep) will greatly quiet the self-hate and PP voices, which say that it is your fault. Then you can outgrow the need for people-pleasing (P-P) which is one of many defense mechanisms. We are “Damaged, not defective”

☁︎ If you’re an ACoA, your needs & emotions (Es) were PP voicestomped on & ignored. Being ‘too nice’ was one way you survived, even if your siblings chose a different way to protect themselves. What does this tell us?
That we used whatever we could to deal with an emotionally & physically dangerous upbringing. We didn’t create that situation, SO this pattern is not an innate flaw in us. It’s correctable!

Tool 1. Facing FEARS

++ It’s normal for Co-deps to be fear-based, given our history. That fear may never go away completely, but can become much less intense. As we thaw out emotionally we can experience our feelings quicker when something hurts us – instead of it registering months or years later. Feeling old pain, as well as emotions that come up from a current event, will free up a lot of psychic energy we use to hold them down. This freedom makes us less scared, which gives us the courage to ask for what is rightfully ours, diminishing the grip of co-dependence.

Outgrow P-P is a combination of:
— rooting out abusive self-talk & correcting distorted ideas about life (CDs)
— consistently comforting & nurturing ourselves (self-care)

☁︎  T.E.A. = Most people combine Thinking (more from the Left brain) & Emotions (more from the Right brain) into one big messy hodgepodge.
If someone were to ask you (or you ask yourself) : “Are your/my fears realistic?” they are not referring to the emotion of fear, but rather to the toxic rules, projections, S-H….(Ts) that scare you (E).
Fear isL & R BRAIN fear – it’s neither realistic or unrealistic, which only applies to thinking. (“Feelings aren’t facts”).
Intense painful emotions are a signal that you’ve either tapped into childhood trama-pain, &/or you’re torturing yourself with cruel self-talk, causing terror.

Years of abusive & abandoning experiences created our fear – accumulating every hour, every day that we lived with those people (family, school, religion, neighborhood….). That feeling is an absolutely normal, appropriate emotional response to those events. We carry that pile of terror in our body, which we now attach to thoughts & current events – adding to the pile, keeping P-P in place (“Anxiety & T.E.A.s”)

REVERSED – As Co-deps we often get both our mental & emotional reactions backwards.  In terms of fear:
• we ignore or underplay emotionally damaging effects caused by actual people & situations that are inappropriate or outright harmful to us, BUT have a real effect on us even so, & yet —
• we can over-react emotionally with S-H & FoA to PPT that are either not dangerous at all, or are those uncomfortable pain-in-the-butt “that’s life” situations which seem overwhelming, but actually are fairly easy to smooth out, once we come to see them in a true perspective, & learn how to manage them

💚 So don’t let others keep confusing you. Be clear whether you (or they) are talking about Thoughts/beliefs OR Emotions – or Actions, & know how they’re related – or not!  Es can be a response to an As, without causing harmful Ts:
EXP: I can be very frustrated & angry (E) about a situation I truly have no control over, such as ‘being laid off from a job/ loss of a relationship/ illness of a loved one….’ (A), yet still have a positive mental attitude about myself, my life, even my future, such as “It’s not my fault / I know I can find something or someone else / I’m actually better off now / I pray for them….” (T). (See many posts re. EMOTIONS)

NEXT: Outgrowing P-P #2

Co-Dep Angry-Nice UNDERPINNINGS (Part 1)


unless I try a lot harder

PREVIOUS: Co-dep #1

SITEQs @ Co-dep
False beliefs @ being angry

Co-dependence UNDERPINNINGS (all at the same time!)
• Hero – of your own story, but not really. Your sense of importance & value is totally dependent on what you can do for others, whether they want it or not, and on how others react to you. If they respond positively, you can breathe. If they don’t – even once – you feel like the rug’s been pulled out. So you have to keep running from the monster (the Introject), to make sure you always do the right thing – for others – but never for yourself

• Jelly – inside. A quivering mass of terror & self-flagellation, always waiting for the other shoe to drop! The least little thing that goes wrong – you blame yourself – whether others hurt your feelings, or heaven-forbid you don’t know something, or make even a tiny mistake – all reasons to condemn yourself

• Mind-reader – sure you know what everyone else is thinking  –MINd]D READING about you. Your shame & S-H ‘knows’ it’s never anything good, so you never bother to actually find out by asking, lest your suspicions prove to be true

• Martyr – taking on the burdens of everyone else, carrying their suffering for them, assuming they are weak & you’re so much stronger

• Secret Superman/ Wonder-woman – able to leap tall buildings with your determination to march on alone in spite of all your hardships, proving your ability to save others, while never needing any help yourself

• Antennae – that constantly swivel back & forth towards everyone else, overly attuned to your assessment/assumption of other people’s emotions & needs – whether accurate or not. Your focus is for external approval, rather than internal self-fulfillment. Left to your own devices, you feel lost, purposeless, even empty

• Brakes – like on a car – but only the emergency one, keeping you locked in place, stuck in the mud of your pain, so you can’t take care of yourself. You think if you stand perfectly still you’ll be safe, but all you’re doing is trading real freedom & enjoyment for fake-protectioncrazy committee

• A Committee – a dangerous ’round’ table in your head of warring factions – each with an opposing point of view, vying for the upper hand – AND all negative. They’re so loud, you can’t find your own voice, & they drive you crazy, because you’re trying to make sense of craziness!

• Distortions – of thinking (CDs) that warp the way you see & interpret the world – thru the haze of Toxic Rules, FoA & S-H. This includes a skewed idea of Higher Power/God. ACoAs automatically assume that “God is an Alcoholic Parent”. We either:
— hate the whole ‘spirituality’ issues because God didn’t rescue us from very real childhood trauma, or
— try to earn love & acceptance by good works (people-please HP) or
— we assume the ‘universe’ is against us, no matter what we do, just like it was at home


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

Secretly Angry “Nice” People (Intro-a)

secretly nice -1I ALWAYS HAVE TO ACT NICE
to hide how angry I really am

PREVIOUS: Multiple Intelligences #3e

POST: What about Anger?”


Our culture does not support, tolerate or excuse expressing anger in obvious ways – except when participating in or watching sports, or being drunk! Oh right, the BIRDS can be angry – but not humans! One reason is that most people assume there’s only one way to let it out – explosively, dangerously – which of course scares people, since it can be physically & emotionally unsafe.
But it’s not the only way (“Ways to react” posts).

Since everyone was born with the ability to feel anger (A.), just as we have the natural capacity to experience all the other Es – in varying degrees – each of us figures out how to deal with it, based on our personal tendencies & what we copied or learned as kids. In our society, A. is usually called a ‘negative’* emotion – even by the best regarded teachers, writers & therapists. This is wrong!
This misnomer comes from NOT separating the TEA components:
❤️ The Emotion itself (physical energy & information about our environment), vs.
💀 the way we frame it in our Thinking (acceptable or unacceptable), vs.
✍🏽 how we Act on it – Positively or Negatively.

*The E. of Anger itself should never be designated as a negative! It is not only blatantly inaccurate to do so, but does it a great injustice – because A. gives vital information about bad things happening to us or around us. NO emotion is negative, only harmful thoughts & actions are! Anger is a necessary & appropriate reaction to 3 main things:
✔︎ being scared, being frustrated & being hurt (such as threatened, ignored, disrespected….). (see T.E.A. // ‘Feelings aren’t facts’ )

★ And anger is a healthy response to any abuse & deprivation of very real needs (attention, safety, respect, love, freedom, encouragement, comfort….)

Normally, Anger can be:
• an immediate response to a particular situation, or
• gradually built up from a series of real or perceived injustices or threats, or
• a slow escalation from long-term abuse, neglect, or being treated unfairly

Emotionally HEALTHY Nice People have good self-esteem. They are:
• direct, clear & positive in communication & behavior
• happy, self-assured, assertive, confident, relaxed, easy
• well-behaved, socially appropriate, well-mannered, generous
• thoughtful, helpful, kind, loyal, respectful, sensitive to others

But when someone doesn’t have any safe outlet for their anger, it will go underground. It becomes a part of our ‘Shadow“,  (aspects of ourselves we find unacceptable) so we reject & push the anger into the unconscious.
However, the emotion never goes away on its own – until it’s expressed in safe ways and by fixing the causes, if possible. Instead, it stays locked in our muscles, ligaments, organs & auras. (See ‘Symptoms)
Over time, this trapped energy will become too big to be contained & will end up coming out sideways!

Freud once likened anger to the smoke in an old-fashioned wood-burning stove: Normally, the smoke goes up the chimney, safely away. But if this is blocked up, the smoke will leak out – thru the grate, under the door, thru the vents…. choking everyone in the house. It needs to be cleaned out. But if all avenues of escape stay blocked, the fire will eventually go out, making the stove useless.

In the same way, blocking up the natural flow of our anger-energy becomes harmful to self and others. If we shut it down for too long, it puts out our internal fire, & makes us ineffective. We need a safe outlet for all emotions.

NEXT: Secretly angry nice people (Intro-b)

PROCESS – Recovery (Part 2a)


Yes. And it’s not a dirty word!

PREVIOUS: Process – ACoA version

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

BOOK:   PASSAGES, by Gail Sheehy

a. AWARENESS (Aw) – mainly ‘head’
i. What: It’s usually about information, based in reality
• something about ourselves, our past, the people we do/did interact with – those ‘AHA‘ moments that makes sense of something confusing or distressing
• it can be the end result of years of study & self-examination or by making an intuitive leap
• can also be about buried emotions which surface, sometimes unexpectedly, as a shock or as a result of conscious recovery work
• a moment of ‘Spiritual Awakening’ – which lights up our inner worldawareness

ii. How: Aw. can come from:
• books, TV, movies, songs, websites, blogs
• therapy, 12-step programs, ministers, other healers
• talking to family, friends – even strangers
• meditation, journaling, drawing, Inner Child Writing,  -etc.

iii. Who – is mainly from the Healthy ADULT ego state, which is observing & learning from everything in the present, accumulating & putting pieces of info together – in our own unique way
• It is not info coming from fear, self-hate, shame, guilt... So, NOT from the bad parent or the wounded child ego states

vi. About:
• it takes a certain amount of Recovery to realize just how damaged we really are! – as denial diminishes
self-esteem is not arrogance, selfishness or ‘ego’
• that we don’t deserve abuse — for anything!
• active addicts made poor parents, friends, mates, bosses  self-confidence
• that following the toxic family rules is soul murder
• that perfectionism is an expression of our self-hate
• our identity cannot, must not, depend on having everyone like us
• some people will not like the changed that come from our growth
• we can’t convince others of our point of view IF agreeing with us would cost them their sense of personal equilibrium (unhealthy)
• no matter how hard we try to improve ourselves, some people will never be comfortable with us

b. ACCEPTANCE (Acc) – mainly about Feelings & Process
This topic is covered extensively in post: ’Acceptance & ACoAs’
i. What: Acc takes time – we need to thaw out (lessen the need for rigid defenses) enough to allow old accumulated emotions to surface.  All that pain, still hidden from us in the unconscious, powers the engine of our self-hate & lack of clear identity
• Al-Anon’s 3 Cs “I didn’t Cause it, I can’t Control it, I can’t Cure it’
• Acc is the opposite of ACoA (WIC)/ alcoholic grandiosity, which makes us think we have impossible powers, over everything, all the time
• it’s the essence of the Serenity Prayer
• taking responsibility for our own lives, while thoroughly acknowledging what happened to us as kids

ii. How – by:good group
• understanding what it is & isn’t (see post)
• having a loving, safe and smart support system
• persevering, no matter how long it takes
• learning to consistently be there for our IC
• a conscious effort to deal with reality, as much as we can
• connecting with an H.P. of our understanding, to heal us

iii. Who – mainly from the Inner Child.
• Psychically, we have a huge ‘trans-atlantic’ multi-stranded steel cable, with one end attached to our gut & the other to our family (dead or alive).  This takes time, effort & repetition
• In recovery we have to snip away at each strand that feeds us their damage, & yes, keep any that are safe, healthy & useful.

vi. About –  See Acceptanceself-love
• we are damaged, NOT defective. Damage can be healed.
• what self-hate tells us is always a LIE
• S-H is a defense against feeling the original abandonment pain
• all emotions are legitimate info about our experiences
normal = human = imperfect = OK / acceptable

NEXT : Healthy Process – “Actions” (Part 2)