OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 5a)

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.

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

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)

Procrastinators Anon TOOLS

putting it off 

I’ll try them later!

PREVIOUS: ACoAS & Procrastination (#5)

POSTS:  “ACoAs & Procrastination” / / “Weak Decision Styles

Procrastinators-Anonymous.org – “a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.”
1. Break It Down: Break down projects into specific action steps; include preparation tasks in the breakdown.

2. Visualize: Plan what to do, then imagine yourself doing it. The more specific and vivid your visualization, the better. See yourself doing the task, and doing it well.

3. Ask Yourself Why: While you are visualizing doing the task, see if you can detect what it is about the task that feels odious to you, what uncomfortable emotions you are avoiding. Knowing what’s behind the avoidance can help you get past it – for example, address real problems or ignore irrational fears.

4. Focus on Long-Term Consequences: Procrastinators have a tendency to focus on short-term pleasure, and shut out awareness of long-term consequences. Remind yourself how panicked and awful you’ll feel if the task isn’t done, then imagine how good it will feel when the task is finished.

5. Avoid Time Binging: One reason procrastinators dread starting is that once they start they don’t let themselves stop. Plan to work on a task for a defined period of time, then set a timer. When the timer goes off, you’re done.

6. Use Small Blocks of Time: Procrastinators often have trouble doing tasks in incremental steps, and wait for big blocks of time that never come. When you have small blocks of time, use them to work on the task at hand.

7. Avoid Perfectionism: Procrastinators have a tendency to spend more time on a task than it warrants, so tasks that should be quick to do take an agonizingly long time. Notice this tendency and stop yourself. Some things require completion, not perfection.

8. Keep a Time Log: Increase your awareness of time by logging what you are doing throughout the day. This is a great diagnostic tool for discovering where your time went, and an excellent way to become better at estimating how long tasks take.

9. Develop Routines: To help structure your day and make a habit of things you always need to do, develop routines for what you do when you wake up, regular tasks of your workday, and what you need to do before going to bed.

10. Bookend Tasks and Time: Use the Bookending board on the P.A. Web site to check in throughout the day, or at the beginning or end of specific tasks you are dreading.

Please visit Procrastinators-Anonymous.org for more info.  Details are at the top of the Bookending board.  AS A REMINDER:

putting off cartoon


file drAwer




Some readers have expressed a sense of  overwhelm by the amount of info presented. on this blog.
(SEE also 80+ pages of website: www.acoarecovery.comSoverwhelmwd

When working toward any goal it’s typical of ACoAs to skip Process, but instead insist on trying to do things ‘perfectly’ & NOT use small steps or do things in orderly stages.

Then the WIC balks at the ‘bigness’ of  the task / project /  procedure – & will quit part of the way in, or procrastinate & so not get started at all.



To get the most out of this blog – cruise thru each year (2010-2016, at top of Home Page) & just familiarize yourself with what’s available.
See what jumps out at you & only read that.

Then when Sprocessan issue comes up in your life, go back to the lists & read what applies.

Slow down enough to mull over what comes up for you.

ALWAYS take things in small chunks. The brain absorbs info better that way.


A LOT OF WORK to re-order all !
The complete listing of over 600 posts has been re-distributed (2010-2016).

Changes in site-map:

— Listed in order of topic posting, per month – rather than alphabetically

— Similar topics grouped together pr.year, as much as possible – rather
than by original writing date

— Space made between topics, or between bub-topics of a group, rather than
clumped together each month

— If something has not been ‘linked’, it means it’s a future post, in the pipeline.

Comments or corrections welcome.

Donna Marie

ACoAs – What about ANGER? (Part 1)

resentful??I’M NOT RESENTFUL!
That’s all in the past, right?

PREVIOUS: Arrogance vs Humility (Part 2)

BOOK: Strategies for Survival in an Angry World”  ~ Dr Eva Bell

QUOTE: “Generally speaking – if a human being never shows anger, then I think something’s wrong. He’s not right in the brain”. ~ Dalai Lama

ACoAs – why are we SO angry?
Many of us know we are, and have varying degrees of acceptance about that reality. We may be still walking around in a fairly constant slow burn, are genuinely calm & peaceful much of the time with only occasional flare-ups (because of doing a great deal of WIC, FoO & rage work) or are somewhere in between.

BUT, if you say that you’re just not angry, or that you’ve gotten past it all, that you’ve forgiven them & moved on – then you can check to see how accurate you are by answering the following:
Qs: How do you talk to yourself, internally? How good is your self-care?
● Are you consistently kind, patient, loving, validating, comforting, self-respecting….. toward yourself?who me angry?
OR is the PP inner voice being harsh, impatient & perfectionistic, while you ignore the WIC completely?

● Do you take as good care of yourself, each day, as you do other people & pets in your life?
OR are you only focused on others, co-dependent & people-pleasing?

● Do you stand up for your rights & ask for what you need – from your Adult ego state?
OR do you over-react when something doesn’t go right
OR passive-aggressively wait for someone else to figure out what you need?

● Do you feel comfortable in business & other social settings, because you are calm & confident,
OR do you isolate & assume everyone is going to judge you? (which is projecting your anger out on to others)

➼ If you are more like the second half of these questions, then you are still very angry – from early &/or adult abuse you’ve suffered – sitting on a volcano and taking it out on yourself, while pretending you’re not really in a rage at all.circle of security

No matter what our family looked like on the outside – what most of didn’t get is a sense of safety & security. Kids who DO have that,
do not grow up angry & self-hating!

This chart shows some of the requirements of youngsters as they begin to explore the world around them, while needing to know they can return to the safety of loving, responsible parents. This ‘Circle of Security‘ forms the foundation of self-esteem (from unconditional love), the ability to take healthy risks & the freedom to find out who they are, which will help them eventually decide what to do with their life.

How many things on this chart were a daily part of your earliest
experience? The lack of such nurturing created a deep sense of fear in us, & over time that fear turned into anger & then rage. No matter how much we’ve suppressed our emotions & memories, the losses, disappointments & hurt are still there – until brought to the surface to be validated, honored & processed.

6a00d8345190c169e201538f527fbc970b-800wi● We’ve all heard over & over that growth & healing cannot occur as long as we hang on to anger & bitterness. In the long-run this is true. In the short-term what many teachers neglect to tell us is that the process of ‘letting go’ is a path of mourning (ala Kubler-Ross), & that the stages of mourning the lack of a healthy childhood include ANGER. (MORE….)

ACoAs are terrified of anger
(even the angry ones!) —
— of our own, because if we let it out we might kill someone (since we really want to)
of others’ anger, because the WIC assumes they/it will kill us.
Unfortunately, many of us grew up with one or more raging adults (especially when drunk), & including siblings or other family members. We may also have been stuck with other adults who were too weak & fearful to protect us against the ragers. We were never soothed when hurt & terrified, & so don’t know how to soothe ourselves. We were also never shown / taught how to handle our anger – neither in how to think about upsetting situations nor how to behave successfully. We were left alone with our pain, and punished for any display of reactive anger.

— So we grew into overt ragers ourselves, or copied the long-suffering parent, & still live in fear of everything. ACoAs in the victim role are just as intensely angry as the volcanic types. While it may be pushed out of our awareness, it still shows up as relentless PMES S-H & deprivation, as well as staying with others who manipulate or attack us, & blow up too easily (more on Emotional  Abuse ). S-H is caused by our original abandonment, & then fueled by helpless, hopeless rage – in the wrong direction – toward ourselves.

— And if we were designated the Hero ACoA / the ‘Good One’ in the family, thenot allowed angern we were definitely not allowed to be angry. Added to that, some of us received religious injunctions against such an ‘evil’ emotion! It’s not surprising then that we have trouble even knowing we’re angry, or that we should be angry when mistreated (T), much less actually feeling it (E). Instead it gets ‘intellectualized’ into resentments – several steps removed from the actual bodily experience of the anger itself!
St. Augustine said: “Resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies.”

NEXT: What about anger – Part 2



once I understand it

PREVIOUS: Acceptance & ACoAs (Part 1)

Positive Acceptance IS acknowledging the TRUTH about things, without any make-up. It’s ONLY about what actually IS or WAS! It’s about reality, not what we wish things were like, what we think they should be, what others say things are like, or even what could potentially be.

It’s only about WHAT IS, such as:
• being damaged in childhood, whether from an alcoholic family or not
• that it caused us great harm
• that we are NOT the source of that damage
• that we’re responsible for fixing that damage, no matter how unfair
• that people aren’t always what we want them to be
• that we don’t have the power or the right to try to change people
• who people ACTUALLY are, not ignoring the parts that hurt us  – etc

TWO WAYS to APPLY Acceptance
a. To break thru our Denial
Of the 3 As – Acceptance takes the longest because it includes:

PAIN: This is hard, because we’ve already suffered so much, so don’t want any more & don’t believe it will ever end if we let ourselves ‘go there’force time

TIME: We don’t want to hear that – after all,  healing will take ‘forever’!  We want it all now, because if something isn’t immediate, the I.C. is sure it never will happen – just more ‘proof’ that the universe doesn’t want us to have anything! Also, most ACoAs don’t have a realistic sense of how long things take, whether renovating an apartment or renovating our mind!

PROCESS – (another concept we hate!), which goes on too darn long AND we don’t know how to do it. It all feels way too risky!  No wonder we want to skip the middle ‘A’.

b. To increase our Healing
This also take time, because accepting good things into our life makes us very uncomfortable. It not only disobeys several Toxic Rules, but also because we’ve been living in a distorted universe, & gotten used to walking at a slant, crabbing along crooked walls, with rooms we’re not allowed in & others we hang out in that are filled with poisonous gas & broken furniture.
We don’t belong there but we think we don’t have the right or the ability to move out! accept, grow

The way across seems invisible, but just like Indiana Jones, when we take that first step, suddenly there’s a narrow bridge that will get us to the other side. For a while we totter along with our arms out, always afraid we’ll fall into the abyss. Sometimes we run back to the familiar ugliness, & then tentatively try again.  Eventually we notice the mansion turn into the shack it always was, & being in it becomes more & more noxious until we never want to go back.

ACCEPTING good things requires that we slowly:
• leave behind all our ratty, smelly baggage & garbage in the old inner universe with that broken down spooky old mess we grew up in, dropping the rags of our False Self a piece at a time
• and gradually move our True Self into a new inner universe, with a castle that we have a full deed to, which has level floors, clearly defined halls, stairs & comfortable rooms, with beautiful furnishings!

Some Positive things to Accept and CELEBRATE:
• We’re OK just as we are, today, imperfectly
• Recovery is possible, for each of us, according to our capacity
• We have the right to be loved unconditionally, & to love others without sacrificing ourselvescelebrate
• We have a right to all our emotions, & to express them appropriately
• We can follow our bliss & express all our talents

• It’s OK to make mistakes – without feeling stupid or humiliated
• There’s no such thing as failure, only opportunities to try out new things & learn from things that don’t work for us
• We have many good qualities and talents (do a positive inventory)
• There are safe, kind people in the world, & they do/will like / love our True Self
• It’s good to take time out. Vegging is useful & necessary, from time to time – for processing our experiences & our emotions,  – etc.

The 3 As can be used in small ways every day, to improve our life, like:
A-1 = AWARENESS that I’m not feeling well today
A-2 = ACCEPTANCE that I have a right to take care of myself, I don’t have to be on the go all the time, I can only do so much…
A-3 = ACTION that I can call in sick, stay in, get help, cancel something, rest…

YOU are worth the effort, whether or not your family valued you.

NEXT:Why resist talking to The IC? #1

PROCESS – Recovery (Part 2b)

good life 

makes life easier

PREVIOUS: PROCESS – Recovery (#1)

BOOKsRecycles of Power” & “Cycles of life”, ~ Pam Levin

a. Awareness  (Part 1)
b. Acceptance

i. What: Present-day behavior patterns
• based on real-world info & experience
• motivated by self-respect & permission to act on our own behalf
• the result of S & I – taking center stage in our own life
• considering our effect on others, without being codependent

ii. HOW:
• taking appropriate risks, then observing the resultsfeed the mind
learning by trial & error, & never giving up
• always looking for possible, appropriate options
• considering realistic consequences
• asking for, gathering & using a variety of help

iii. WHO: Definitely from the Healthy Adult &/or Good Parent
• H.A. – the competent, objective part of us that has accumulated knowledge & experience about ourselves & the world
• G.P. – the mature care-taking part of us that has both kindness & boundaries, patience & limits, is compassionate but realistic

vi. About:
• do things for our own growth, not just for others
• stop to decide what to say or do, before ‘jumping’ ( not reacting)
• choose activities that are pleasurable but not self-destructive
• NOT using activities as a cover up for self-hate, loneliness, avoidance of painful emotions & relationship difficulties
• act based on our needs & in accordance with spiritual beliefs
• based on sound planning, & knowing our current limitations
• consider both the ‘price’ & rewards of our actions
• sometimes NO action is thtiminge best option
• some act. need to be repeated many times, to be effective
• learn timing – don’t force or try to control, but don’t wait too long; don’t try to do too much at the same time or schedule things too close together
• always give ourselves, & others, enough time to get things done

RECOVERY – 2 major ways to change our actions:
1. Do the opposite of our old behavior patterns (“Actions: Healthy Opposites post).  The trick is knowing what rational, healthy opposites are
2. Doing the same activity for an opposite reason.  The basic issue here is motive. This is even trickier, unless we are clear what our reasons are for our actions. And, others may not understand, so will sometimes give us a hard time, or walk away frustrated & disgusted.

EXP:  We may repeat an old behavior: staying in bed a lot, sleeping longer than usual, spending more time alone than with others (assuming we’re not physically ill), eating ‘family type’ foods
Old Motivation: To escape, to not feel old pain, not deal with difficult life situations, fear of ‘people, places & things’

Healthy Motivation (same action, new reason)
• to recover from re-experiencing deep emotional trauma (childhood pain)self growth
• to process a major stressor in the present (death, divorce, moving, marriage, a baby, new job, a fire…), when too many things are happening at once, especially if we have no control
• recover from Introject attacks – because we’re doing so well
• catch up on a lot of positive, new input – internally or externally
• resting up after a big event (wedding, surgery, travel….)

AND: IF we can NOT take some positive actions we would like to – YET – we can practice patience –  keep working at it & never give up!

NEXT: Ego States – Summary

ACoAs & SELF-ESTEEM – what is IS


– & I approve!

PREVIOUS: What Self-Esteem is NOT


Self-Esteem IS:
1. Knowing Ourselves well (with + & – characteristics) – accepting & genuinely enjoying who we are, without denial or arrogance
** Some years after both her parents had died, one woman said about herself: “It’s sad that they missed out on experiencing the wonderful person their child has matured into, & would have been from the start, without the damage.”

2. Knowing that all our Emotions (Es) are legitimate, valid & a part of the complete personality.  Es are neither positive or negative – which is a value judgment. Implication: If it’s negative it should be gotten rid of. WRONG! ALL emotions are part of being human AND are valuable, because they tell us what’s right or wrong for US!

3. Knowing that all our Needs are normal & acceptable. Understanding that not all of them will be met, all of the time. That some will take longer than others to achieve, & that some which we didn’t get in childhood may never be fully realized.  But the more we reach for, the more we’ll get. mistakes

4. Being OK to be Human – knowing what our limits & limitations are, realistically. That to be human will always mean making mistakes, not knowing some things, being imperfect, having weaknesses – as well as having the gifts of abilities & talents, which we can hone & enjoy

5. Accepting that no matter how ‘Good or Spiritual’ we are, life can still be unfair, bad things can happen to us, other people will sometimes mess us up… but that does not mean it’s personal or that we’re not trying hard enough.  Having S.E. means we have a right to be here – on the planet – & that our H.P. wants the best for us

6. Being willing & able to take Responsibility for ourselves (all our T.E.A.s) without guilt, shame, fear of punishment or of being abandoned (FoA). We are able to be our own motivator, rather that using others to give us permission to be or act.  We can protect ourselves from other people’s damage, but own all our reactions, especially to upsetting eventsbalance Es

7. Being able to live in Balance between extremes, most of the time (minimizing drama / trauma). Being peaceful does not mean standing still.  Being calm is not the same as being bored.  Living between +5 & -5 is the best for us, rather than too high or too low (-25 or +25). Part of S.E. is knowing how to think accurately, which lowers our anxiety

8. Accepting that Process is part of all accomplishments & personal growth. Delays do not mean failure or being abandoned (never reaching a goal). Process takes time & with S.E. we know we can accomplish a great deal.  When we fail, we have the ability to learn from mistakes, improve ourselves & keep reaching for our goals

9. Being able to freely Express ourselves artistically, using all our talents, knowledge & special gifts. S.E. allows us to pursue our dreams, no matter where they lead us. We don’t have to be perfect, so we’re not afraid to share those talents with othersrelax

10. Being able to Relax, Enjoy, have fun, take time off, rest, ‘veg’ – on a regular basis.  These are necessary to increase ‘good’ chemicals in the brain, which elevate mood. It also give us time to process our daily experiences on internal conscious & sub-conscious levels & to heal from past wounds. We have a right to healthy pleasure!

NEXT: RECOVERY – Is & is NOT (Part 1)