"When we look outside for self-definition
and self-worth, we are giving power away and setting ourselves up to be
victims. We are trained to be victims. We are taught
to give our power away.
As just one small example of how pervasively
we are trained to be victims, consider how often you have said, or heard someone
say, "I have to go to work tomorrow." When we say "I have to"
we are making a victim statement. To say, "I have to get up, and I
have to go to work," is a lie. No one forces an adult to get up and
go to work. The Truth is "I choose to get up and I choose to go to
work today, because I choose to not have the consequences of not working."
To say, "I choose," is not only the Truth - it is empowering and acknowledges
an act of self-Love. When we "have to" do something we feel like a victim.
And because we feel victimized, we will then be angry, and want to punish,
whomever we see as forcing us to do something we do not want to do - such
as our family, or our boss, or society""
(All quotes in this color are from Codependence:
The Dance of Wounded Souls)
Codependency involves living life unconsciously
reacting to the emotional wounds and intellectual programming from childhood.
In order to stop living our lives in reaction, we need to be willing to
start being more conscious. That includes becoming more conscious in
relationship to how we learned to express ourselves growing up in codependent
In the quote from my book above, I talk about
one of the ways we were trained to live life from a victim perspective.
Just take a moment to become conscious in how different the energy of saying
"I have to" is from the energy of saying "I choose" - and I think you will
get the point.
In terms of starting to learn some emotional
discernment - of learning how to clear up, and change our relationship with,
our own emotions - it is important to become conscious of some dysfunctional
ways we learned to express ourselves in relationship to emotions.
When we make statements like: "I am
angry."; "I'm very hurt"; etc.; we are stating that the
feeling is who we are. The feeling is not who we are. Emotions
are a vital component of our being but they do not define us. It is
important to start seeing emotions as a part of us so that we can start taking
responsibility for them instead of being the victim of our own feelings.
We also need to stop blaming our feelings
on another person: "You make me angry."; "You hurt me.";
etc. When we make these kind of statement we are saying that the other
person is totally responsible for our feelings - we are blaming from a victim
The healthier, and more honest, way to express
our feelings is to state how we are feeling and what we identify as having
triggered that feeling. To say something like: "I felt hurt
when you didn't call me."; "I feel angry when you talk to me that way.";
etc. (This also helps us to start focusing on cause and effect - a vital
step in raising our consciousness so we can move out of a victim perspective.)
By becoming conscious of changing the way
I expressed my emotions, it became easier for me to start seeing my emotional
reactions with more clarity. Then I could start becoming more discerning
in sorting out what part of my emotional reaction was caused by things I did
have some control over / was my responsibility.
For instance: If I felt hurt because
you didn't call me, then I could look at what expectation on my part set me
up for that emotional reaction.
Did you tell me you were going to call me
- or did I assume you would call me. If it was my assumption, those
feelings are something that I created that don't really have much to do with
you. A component in codependent behavior is assuming, mind reading,
fortune telling, and interpreting. I was afraid of asking directly for
what I needed and setting boundaries - out of my inner child wounds relating
to fear of confrontation and of abandonment - which set me up to feel like
a victim when someone did not do what I expected them to do. I needed
to learn to take responsibility for how I set myself up emotionally with
my expectations in order to start getting more emotionally honest with myself
and stop blaming you for my feelings. If I am upset because you "should"
have called me, or because it was the "right" thing to do - that is about
my belief system and expectations.
Perhaps you told me you were going to call
me, and I feel I have a self righteous reason to be hurt by your behavior.
What I need to look at then, is rather this is a pattern of behavior for
you. Is this something you have done before. If you have a pattern
of behavior that causes you to be irresponsible in following through on promises
that you have made - then I need to look at my responsibility in choosing
to believe you when you make a promise. The definition of insanity
- doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results
- would then apply to my expectations, which are my responsibility.
If it is just a case of you were busy and
couldn't call, a rare occurrence where you didn't keep a promise, then I need
to look at any beliefs I have that don't give you room to be human - that
cause me to think you will be perfect. To expect another person to
never screw up (in my view of their behavior) is an insane expectation of
another human being.
It is vital for me to look at anything I
may be doing, or any attitude or expectations that I am holding, that contributed
to the emotional reaction I experienced.
As I started to clean up the way I expressed
my feelings, and stopped blaming them on you, then I could also start to look
at what other factors played a part in my emotional reaction. I became
aware that any time I had a strong emotional reaction - intense, a lot of
energy behind it, a "button" was pushed - I was reacting out of unresolved
grief from the past. Then I could start to see that the emotional reaction
that you triggered was an opportunity for me to get in touch with an inner
child wound that needed my attention.
There are many different levels and layers
to the process of getting emotionally honest so that we can become emotionally
discerning. It is very important to become more conscious of all the
ways we were trained to have a dysfunctional relationship with our own emotions.
A small, but very important, step in that process is to start becoming more
conscious of what is coming out of our mouths. It is important to become
more aware of what you say, how you express yourself.