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

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)


about what I’m saying


SITE: Use of Language (Many links re. the meaning of words & phrases)

: We all use short-cuts in daily conversation, which is understandable, but sometimes this can do us a disservice.
There are truisms we take for granted, phrases & sayings we repeat without considering what they really mean. We assume they are correct, & that they apply across the board  (the latter is B & W thinking – a CD).

It is said that the unconscious has no sense of humor & is completely literal. It’s the reason affirmations need to be said in the positive: “I have a right to be happy…. rather than “I don’t want to suffer any more”, and stated as if our goal had already happened; “I am making / have made $100,000 in sales this year”, rather than “I wish I could make….”.

Language is so important, not just to connect well with other people, but mostly to connect with ourselves in the healthiest possible way. The Inner Child is always listening to everything we say to others, & at the same time is listening to the Bad Parent voice shouting or whispering in the background. It’s up to the UNIT (healthy adult & loving parent) to make sure our language is kind as well as accurate.

In terms of having good Mental Boundaries, “Accuracy is more important than agreement”. Just because everyone else does it doesn’t mean we have to. Don’t let others confuse you. Don’t follow the crowd!

I don’t have to be perfect.What’s wrong with this statement?
Unfortunately, people in Recovery who say this actually consider it a sign of growth, but is in fact one of those sneaky ways our ‘damage’ keeps us hooked. Why? Because:
It implies we COULD be perfect, we just don’t have to be. NOT!

No one can be perfect except God. So, what is true & accurate is that “Humans are not perfect, & I am human, so I can’t be perfect!” That’s normal. To think otherwise is arrogant. We can only do the very best of our ability given where we are in our life-progress right now. It means that “To err is human”,  so we must accept the reality of having limitations. This does not minimize our accomplishments or gifts! We can say: ‘There’s nothing wrong with being imperfect, because it’s a universal Truth”

The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.
It’s the word “EVERYTHING” that’s the problem. Taken literally, this is a blatant inaccuracy. Always keeping PMES in mind, how we do the various parts of our life depends on many factors. It will depend on your fundamental personality, such as indicated by their MBI or EnneaType, whether you’re more left or right-brained, (scientific vs artistic) Introvert vs Extrovert, AND above all what areas of childhood experiences were allowed & praised or ignored & punished.

So, I can be meticulous about how I dress & do my makeup, but sloppy about keeping my house orderly.  I can be a brilliant scholar & writer, but neglect my family…… I can be very talented & dedicated to my native art form but irresponsible if I have to do office work…..
▶︎ None of us do everything the same way!

Article – a Lesson:  However, if we take this phrase more psychologically, we can use this woman’s experience to indicate where we’re stuck. Each of us can make the same kind of ‘aha’ connections – between everyday ways of doing (or not doing) things & how they’re a reflection of our fears & resistances. Those discoveries help us remove blocks which will improve life.

“If you react strongly to a flaw in someone else it means you have that flaw in yourself, otherwise you would not be upset by it”

NO – the things that bother us the most in the present, that push our buttons or ‘trigger us’ are simply the abusive / neglectful things that were done to us by our family (& other perpetrators) over & over throughout our childhood. They are wounds we need to clean out, but they are not our character defects. So – I am almost never late anywhere, but I will definitely be angry at a ‘friend’ who is always late to meet me, because of all the times as a kid I was left waiting to be picked up by my drunk parent…

YESAl-Anon says that when we point a finger at someone else, 3 fingers point back at us. So the statement is true to the degree that our ‘character defects’ get projected out onto others, & we don’t like what we see of ourselves in them.  These flaws are the emotions, beliefs & behaviors (TEAs) we internalized from our family & society, rolled into our Negative Introject’s voice (PP).

BUT that is not who we are. It’s our False Self, we developed in reaction to our unhealthy upbringing. Even so, our True Self sneaks thru in spite of early brainwashing – sometimes indirectly, sometimes obviously. It can take the form of a secret interest, types of addictions we chose, our career path, the way we dress, places we love to go…..

So the goal is to find out who we really are & live it!

NEXT: Phrases #2


… I should listen

: “Feelings aren’t facts” (#1)

SITE: How to listen to the heart

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

2. ‘FACTS’:  The other problem with this platitude is that these 2 words don’t really belong together (feelings & facts).  Consider T.E.A.:
a. Actions – only these are facts, quantifiable, with measurable results.
b. Emotions are never ‘facts’ – they are internal experiences.  Yes, it’s a fact that we have emotions. Even Vulcans have those pesky things, underneath. For humans, to be cut off from our emotions turns us into narcissists or worse – sociopaths!

• Eventually someone in Al-Anon added what they thought was a clarification: “Feelings aren’t facts, but it’s a fact that I’m having these feelings”. OK – this does refer to Emotions. This was encouraging for many of us to hear, because as CoAs we were taught to repress some or all our emotions – to deny them as irrelevant or unacceptable.  So this version gave permission to FEEL emotions.  But this is not what the phrase actually means.circular

c. Thoughts are not technically facts either, but experiences – healthy or unhealthy. Thoughts are:
• the cause of actions, good or bad, depending on the type of thoughts (may not be conscious, but are the reason for our behavior), AND
• the source of emotions (in the present): enjoyment, pleasure, relief, comfort … OR great suffering, caused by distorted or cruel thoughts, rigid beliefs, toxic rules, scary projections, unfounded assumptions … which lead to painful emotions for ourselves & often to destructive actions towards others!

➼ NOTE: Watch out for people who ONLY talk about what they or other people are doing, where they’ve been, who they know, what they’ve accomplished…. Facts, facts, facts!  That tells us they are NOT in touch with their emotions, which makes them unsafe in relationships, for anything other than giving information – if that!

CONCLUSION: In the light of these distinctions, what does the phrase “Feelings are facts” really mean? ANS: it only refers to Thoughts, but not just any kind.  It’s not about accurate, realistic, ‘normal‘ thinking, but only about OBSESSION !! And what most ACoAs obsess about endlessly is always related to abandonment:

EITHER our Self-Hate
”I don’t know why he won’t talk to me – why is he ignoring me – was it something I said? Or maybe I bad thoughtsshould have been nice to him.  I probably sat in the wrong chair… I know he doesn’t like me… what can I do to change his mind… “  –  bla, bla, bla….
OR Rageful thoughts towards others
“How dare she talk to me like that… Why didn’t he call me….I never did anything to her… I’m going to give her a piece of my mind… I hate her, she’s a witch…. no I’d better not… what should I say… I don’t want to get fired…”  etc, etc

BTW – We even have these obsessive inner rants about people we’ve never actually talked to – or about someone we know, but who didn’t do or be something we thought they should…. Of course, obsessional thinking is not accurate or mature. It is rooted in childhood abandonment fear, self-hate, & learned patters of communicating from family, school & perhaps ‘church’.

HEALTH : Being able to think clearly is imperative to function well in the world & in personal relationships. To do so we need accurate, reasonable & present-day info about how everything really works, what is positive about ourselves, what it means to be human & universal spiritual truths about Higher Power.

“Feelings aren’t facts” actually means: “Our negative, distorted thoughts, beliefs & obsessions are NOT telling us the truth.”  Only when understood that way is it a correct statement.
To Review: All emotions are a source of basic & indispensable information: internally telling us about ourselves, & externally about what’s happening around us – what IS safe, compatible, helpful to us OR what is harmful, incompatible, inappropriate for us.  We need our emotions – they are not our enemy!

Emotions themselves are never ‘negative’.  It’s important to NOT use this term about Es, because it implies that they’re bad, and when something’s bad, we assume it should be gotten rid of. So we’re taught to suppress & be ashamed of many Es which are perfectly normal. What is needed is to change our harmful thoughts & actions.

✦ Many wounded people live in emotional extremes, fueled by self-hate & rageful thinking, say – in a range of -20 ——————–0———————- +20. They live from drama to drama – internally & externally, created by fearful THOUGHTS.
The emotional pain behind the drama is real, based on years of childhood distress. This pain needs to be let out in safe ways, which allows us to settle into more images-4‘even’ emotional responses. Then we can make better & better choices for ourselves and in relation to others – which is what they were meant for in the first place!

✦ Healthy Emotions are NOT good or bad, but rather range from the very painful <———–0————> to the very joyful.  The ‘0’ stands for neutral.  We need to aim for living within a range of +5 to -5 on either side of center, most of the time, although not exclusively.  This can only happen when healing diminishes our accumulated anxiety so we don’t have to alternate between the ‘outer limits’ of misery or fantasy/illusion!

NEXT: Getting to Our EMOTIONS – Under


think or feel 

I’m confused! What are you talking about?

PREVIOUS: Request of my Readers

SITE: Diff between feel, think, believe

This is a familiar phrase used in 12-Step Programs, but not exclusive to them. It contains an intrinsic truth and an intrinsic lie.  We have to examine both words – ‘feelings’ and ‘facts’, to understand.

• In our language, the word feelings is used in almost every context to mean either thoughts, emotions or sensations, without distinction.
• The main hindrance to clear communication is between the first 2, because most of the time people use ‘feel’ to mean Thoughts, not emotions. This causes confusion in both speaker & listener.

• This triple usage may be a clever ploy in our culture – likely unconscious – to not acknowledge Emotions! We’re taught to live in our head, to only focus on actions (“Just do it”), and we gladly embrace that as a defense against facing our deepest pain. So, along with many other sources (family, media, male culture, war, sport…) our language encourages being cut off from our emotions.

b. CLARITY:  We’re not going to change the vocabulary, but we can learn the meaning of these 3 words, so we can use them correctly.
i. Sensations – ‘Feel’ is actually an experience word (Physical) : I feel hungry, tired, thirsty, sexual…

ii. Emotions: If the word ‘feeling’ is meant as Emotions – then what follows can only be single words : “I feel…… sad, glad, mad, scared, happy, etc  (page 47)
• We can have several emotions at the same time & they may or may not be contradictory. That doesn’t have to be confusing – it’s normal, since humans are complex & multi layered
• Different ego states can generate different emotions at the same time: The Inner Child may be sad, while the Inner Adult is curious & the Inner Parent may be angry – all about some situation or event! (traveling, work, a new relationship…)

iii. Thoughts: If the word ‘feeling’ is meant as Thoughts/ Opinions/ Beliefs –  then what comes after is always a sentence, never just one word AND it often leads with ‘that‘ or ‘like’:confused
•  “I feel that he wants to talk about something”
•  “I feel like you’re not going to support me”
• “I feel that we should leave now”
• “I don’t feel like we’re communicating”
Stated as such, none of these are about emotions, only ideas – even though emotions are often hidden behind the thoughts. It’s subtle & at best it’s unintentionally, at worst it’s manipulative & dishonest

Mix-ups occur when EMOTIONS & THOUGHTS are combined, intermingled & substituted for each other. One reason for this misuse is not being able to own our personal power. ACoAs are ‘notorious’ for being indirect, talking around an important point, leaving out important info, adding too many qualifiers, justifications & apologies!round about
So we say:
• “ I hope you don’t mind if I tell you…”
instead of  “I’d like to tell you something / I need to talk to you about…”
• “I hope you don’t mind that I…”,  “Is it alright if I…” , “Will you be upset if I…”
instead of (with a smile, perhaps) “I won’t be able to… “,  “I need to…” , “I’d like to…” , “I’m not available for…”
• “I feel like I’m doing better”  instead of “I’m doing better”
• “I feel like I can’t trust him”  instead of “I know I can’t trust him”.

YES, there is a time & place for careful wording, being respectful of others’ time & space, or for apologizing. Also, generally, women are more likely to be indirect, as a way of not being aggressive, which makes staying connected easier. (“He said, She said” by Chris Evatt)
HOWEVER, the above examples of waffling have to do with ACoA shame, S-H, fear of being seen & of punishment / abandonment.
➼ It’s helpful to practice verbalizing our thoughts & emotions using declarative sentences, so they will come out of our mouth more easily, and to repeat, daily: “I know what I know”!

EXAMPLES: A good way to be understood is TO :
a. include both meanings in the same sentence (emotions + thoughts)
• “I’m scared that you won’t stay with me”be clear
• “I feel sad that he’s ignoring me”
• “I’m afraid he may not like this gift”
• “I’m so happy that you got the promotions”
• “I feel excited & curious that you want to tell me something”
• “I’m (I feel) concerned that you don’t stand up for yourself”
This of course implies that we know what we’re feeling (emotions) and  have permissions to feel, own & express them.

b. or to identify our thoughts, opinions & beliefs, directly:
• “I think that the government should…”
• “That’s not my opinion”   •   “I wouldn’t say that…”
• “I suspect he’s not going to honor his agreement”
• “I’m convinced there’s a better way to do this project”

NEXT: “Feelings aren’t facts”, Part 2