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40 posts categorized "Relationships"

03/02/2012

Guilt and Shame in the Land of Oz

Erika-bentBy Erika Bent, B.A., graduate student intern

In the Wizard of Oz, the entire community was built upon the reputation of a powerful and knowing wizard. The tin man, lion, scarecrow and Dorothy admired his great power and sought guidance. They succumbed to his great voice and awing appearance. However, when an innocent dog peeled back his masterful disguise, the Wizard of Oz was revealed as an ordinary human. As a result, he became insecure, self-conscious and ultimately felt ashamed of his failure to exercise his great and supposed power.

In this classic story, the Wizard of Oz experienced significant shame for failing to live up to his own and his community’s expectations. We have all experienced forms of guilt and shame at some time during our lives. Many situations can bring about feelings of shame or guilt, such as making a mistake or crying in public. Feelings of shame are different from feelings of guilt in that guilt reflects a wrong-doing, whereas shame indicates something inherently wrong with oneself as a person.

Both guilt and shame can be debilitating and isolating. It is important to express these feelings in a healthy way and develop healthy coping skills. Some techniques that can be helpful to deal with the painful feelings of shame and guilt are listed below: 

  • Express your thoughts and feelings through journaling
  • Relaxation techniques, such as guided imagery, deep breathing and muscle relaxation
  • Turn to your support system
  • Work through your guilt/shame with trusted people in your life, such as friends, family, therapists, etc.

There are several ways to cope with debilitating shame and guilt in a healthy manner. It is important that you find techniques that work for you. 

02/27/2012

Make Amends to Make Your Guilt Disappear

12-step programs such as Overeaters Anonymous and Eating Disorders Anonymous contain many useful tools that any of us can use. When it comes to healing guilt, one of the best methods is found in steps 8 and 9.

Step 8 reads, "Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all." Step 9 continues with, "Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."

The 12-step process recognizes that guilt over our unresolved issues with people, places and institutions are what cause us to reach for unhealthy behaviors such as food addiction, emotional eating, bulimia, over-exercising and restricting.

When they feel guilty, a lot of people are quick to apologize. Unfortunately, they're just as quick to repeat whatever it is they just apologized for. There's no relief for either person, because there wasn't any action or change behind the apology.

The 12-step process of making amends goes beyond an apology, to actually changing the words or actions that harmed the other person. If we have acted out of integrity with the kind of person we wish to be, we can do something to repair the damage in a real way.

This is rarely an easy process, and that's why it requires spiritual guidance and strength. Sometimes it's not clear how to make up for what we did, and we need some extra clues or insights. Other times we may see what we have to do, but we feel afraid or reluctant to do it. We need extra strength and courage – especially if there may be consequences for admitting what we did wrong.

Whatever the situation that is causing your guilt, it's important to be thorough in the process of making amends. Otherwise you can put a cycle in motion where you keep hurting the other person or you keep hurting yourself. As part of your amends, you can create a new plan of living when it comes to that person or situation. How would you like the relationship to look and feel? How would you like to behave in the situation? What kind of person do you want to be?

In some cases, even after you've identified a person or institution that you owe an amends to, you can't do it right away. Maybe you don't have the financial means to fully repay a debt. Maybe the person you harmed has died or moved away. The important thing is to get yourself to a place of being willing to make the amends, and then find a way to do it.

A 12-step sponsor or a therapist can be very helpful during this process. This person can also make sure that you haven't slipped to the other side of the equation where you're taking on responsibility for something you haven't done, out of a sense of people pleasing or co-dependency.

Reflect on all the people or institutions you have hurt or harmed, and get yourself to a place where you're willing to do whatever it takes to repair the damage that was your part. Sometimes the action takes place right away; sometimes the action is deferred or done through someone else.

Before making amends, be sure that you have forgiven the other person for any harm they may have done to you. The amends process cannot work if you are still full of rage, resentment or defensiveness.

No matter how much love you may have in your heart when you approach the other person, you can't expect them to accept your amends or be ready to forgive you. They may not be able to do that right now and you have to accept that. You're making these amends to relieve your own poisonous, toxic guilt. You can hold your head high, no matter how the other person responds.

The biggest amends you may have to make is to yourself, for putting yourself through all of this guilt. If you can change your perspective and behaviors so they're more loving and kind – to yourself and others – that will change our relationships, alleviating our guilt and replacing it with relief and gratitude.

There are three key benefits of making amends are. First, an apology for hurting someone in the past can be a great way to build a bridge to a better future relationship with others or with oneself.

Next, it's ideal for removing the weight of guilt, shame and remorse. Finally, step 9 leads right into step 10, which is a daily reflection on how we behaved. We can use step 10 and the journaling process to clean stuff up every day so it never builds up beyond 24 hours. It's a beautiful way of living.

 

02/16/2012

Pause, Listen, Respond, Let Go

Saying yes when we want to say no is a sure sign that guilt is making that decision for us. Whether we're trying to lessen guilt we already feel, or avoid guilt we're afraid of feeling, we've now set aside our own desires, goals and needs.

To avoid the self-destructive cycle of guilt and resentment , here is the four-step formula I use when someone makes a request: 

  1. Pause – I let the person know that I have to give it some thought. If they insist on knowing immediately, I say the answer has to be no until I have more time to consider it.
  2. Listen – I quiet my mind and tune into my body to make a spiritual connection and hear my intuitive voice. I also try to imagine doing whatever the thing is. Did doing this thing give me energy or drain my energy? I may also get messages from my "gut" or feel something in my throat.
  3. Listen more (if needed) – If I'm still not clear about what the right answer is for me, I will take more time to reflect, usually by writing in my journal. I may also discuss the situation with supportive family, friends or one of my therapist colleagues.
  4. Respond and let go – I return to the person and give my answer. Once I've made my decision, I have to trust what I felt in that moment and avoid second-guessing myself. If I said no, I let go of any mind reading or projecting what the other person may think. Otherwise, I end up being just as much of a slave to the situation as if I'd said yes. If I did say yes, I proceed to carry out the action with a spirit of love, generosity and service.

This process can be a lot quicker than it sounds, and it will get faster the more you do it and the more you learn to trust yourself.

The next time someone makes a request for your time, energy, money or attention, try this four-step process.

02/08/2012

Guilt is a Four-Letter Word

Be honest. How many of your actions and decisions today were driven by guilt? Were you trying to relieve guilt that you already felt, or trying to avoid feeling guilty later?

Using guilt as a motivator starts a chain reaction that can very self-destructive. This is true for everyone, but for someone in recovery from an eating disorder, food addiction, compulsive eating, anorexia or bulimia, this pattern can compound the emotional difficulties you're already dealing with.

When you base your decisions on feelings, including guilt, you tune out rational thought, as well as the self-nurturing intuitive thought that is available by making a spiritual connection.

Let's say you agree to babysit your friend’s kids, even though you already had plans that you now have to cancel. You felt obligated and worried about how your friend might respond if you said no. You didn't think you could deal with your feelings of guilt.

By saying yes to your friend, you may have avoided the guilt, but you've put yourself at risk for feeling resentful because you gave up doing something you were looking forward to. And the discomfort of that resentment can drive you right back towards using food, weight obsession, purging or over-exercising as a coping mechanism.

What's even worse is how guilt and resentment can strain your relationships with the people whose love and support is so vital to your recovery.

If you want to stop being a slave to your guilt, you can start by getting more awareness of how it's showing up in your life. Your journal is a great tool for tracking and reviewing these notes. You can also share your writing with a therapist or trusted friend to get feedback and insights.

If you want to stop guilt in its tracks, try to do less "mind reading" or projecting your own thoughts onto others. For example, maybe you think you friend will think you don't care about her or her kids if you say so no her request.

Again, turn to your journal. Write out all the things you imagine the other person is thinking or feeling. Seeing them in black and white may help you to realize that you can't be sure whether they're true. Getting some objective feedback can help here as well.

There is nothing wrong with being a generous, giving person who does nice things for others. In fact, giving back can help you progress in your recovery. Giving also has a spiritual effect, and is one of the ways I incorporate spirituality into my life.

As with everything, balance is the key. If you're feeling out of balance, chances are that you're giving out of guilt.

12/29/2011

How Triggers are Worked into the Group Therapy Process

By Diosa Moran, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern

The dynamic of a therapy group often projects patterns and behaviors that are similar to existing relationships in our personal and professional lives. The sensitive connection or even disconnection between individuals in a group counseling setting can trigger an emotion or event from one’s life through an unconscious process.

Triggers between two individuals may bring up a long history of family relationships, highlighting issues of intimacy, hope, similarity, guidance or basic social skills. Professional issues may also be triggered, such as the relationships between a boss and an employee, networking connections, or mentor and mentee, exposing issues of authority, giving and receiving, and advice-giving.

Although any of these dynamics may occur in a process group, it is a limited list and simplified in what really occurs in group counseling. Group counseling is a deep and complex process between group members and therapist.

Triggers usually occur from some kind of trauma. I believe trauma is a transformative and comprehensive experience, which includes the story leading up to an event, the actual event and the aftermath of an event. A trauma is defined by what is real to an individual and not by another individual’s interpretation or perspective.

There are several ways triggers are worked into a group process, including projection, transference and scapegoating.

Projecting

The process of projecting consists of projecting one’s own traits or quirks onto another simply because the dynamic between two or more individuals parallels that of another relationship elsewhere. For example, a woman in group counseling can all of a sudden take the role of nurturer towards another group member because of a behavior that parallels her own mother-daughter relationship.

Transference

At the White Picket Fence Counseling Center, one of our group guidelines is that we create and maintain a safe space and container for individual group members to interact, “act out,” and share information and emotions amongst each other. That includes the interactions that occur between the therapist and the group members, too.

Transference is similar to projection, except that it happens between the therapist and one of more of the group members. When the therapist is perceived as the "leader" of the group, group members will sometimes seek approval, advice or direction from the therapist, similar to the relationship between a parent and child or a boss and employee.

The benefit of these interactions occurring in a group setting is that sometimes the other group members will notice this pattern and reflect it back to the person involved, advancing growth for all.

Scapegoating

Scapegoating is another central function of a group setting. Whether in personal or professional relationships, a scapegoat is someone who may be the most vulnerable or where others direct their tension or blame.

In a therapy group, members can sometimes unconsciously assign one member as the scapegoat, or sometimes will reassign another group member as the scapegoat. The dynamic of scapegoating can occur when individuals try to avoid assuming responsibility for their own behavior or actions. The person who becomes the scapegoat will often portray patterns of redirecting, dismissing and/or avoidance.

When triggers are worked out in a group process, it is a wonderful opportunity to witness microscopic behaviors and patterns that are being played out in real-life scenarios. The experience is transformational, sincere and real, and is one of the greatest advantages of group therapy!

12/20/2011

When People Are the Triggers

In the recovery process from an eating disorder, you'll probably start by focusing on the food and your eating patterns. Once you've worked on those things, it will be time to turn you attention to your relationships – your emotional triggers.

You may feel triggered when people start talking about weight, dieting, the newest exercise program or the foods they're eating or not eating. Well-meaning friends and relatives may ask questions about what YOU are eating or not eating, or they may comment on your appearance.

Shopping for groceries or clothing can trigger many different issues around food and weight, and food is on display pretty much everywhere you go at certain times of year like the winter holiday season. Just seeing those huge quantities of food all in one place can be terrifying for someone in recovery from food addition, emotional eating, anorexia or bulimia.

Relationship issues can pop up just as often, where TV commercials, books or other people in your life can remind you of painful situations that are still unresolved. Sometimes you can get caught off guard by a reaction that feels out of proportion, like getting really upset about someone you don't even know.

When someone triggers you, usually it's because somewhere deep down it reminds you of an interaction with your family of origin. This is another reason that we welcome triggers in the therapy process. This is a great opportunity to work through something that you wouldn't have otherwise. 

You don't have to be afraid of triggers. You can learn to understand them and deal with them – not eat over them.

 

11/10/2011

Speaking Your Truth

By Jennifer Patterson, BSN, Student Intern

Speaking your truth is a phrase that has come up numerous times in recent months, leading me to question, "What does speaking your truth actually mean?" It most likely means different things to different people. Some people's truths may come from a place of hurt, maladapted coping, distorted perceptions and/or irrational belief, while for others the truth comes from a place of inner healing, forgiveness, and knowing what is true.

As little children we came into the world needing safety, security, love and acceptance and many of us did not get these things for one reason or another. From infancy we began to figure out ways to cope with our unmet needs. We observed those around us and determined how they got what they wanted or needed from others, and we learned to mimic their behavior and communication styles, not knowing whether they were functional or dysfunctional.

For those of us coming from dysfunctional family systems, we were not taught to be honest and direct. Those caring for us did not model healthy communication. As a result, our communication style became rooted in manipulation. We learned to "doctor up" or "sugar coat" what we said in order to get what we needed or wanted, sometimes saying, "Yes" when we meant, "No." We told lies as protection from the consequences of something we had said or done. We also participated in triangulation, which is talking about one person to another rather confronting a problem directly.

The mind uses unconscious defenses and coping mechanisms to survive trauma, hurt, neglect and/or loss. In the beginning, eating disorder behaviors serve a functional purpose; however, ultimately the body and mind are harmed. Eating disorder behaviors are maladapted coping mechanisms and these behaviors become the voice that communicates an unspoken need; a type of silent screaming, if you will.

In order to speak our truth, we must first discover what have we have been telling ourselves that is not true. What is my mindset? What is my belief system and what was it formed upon? What are my perceptions about others, the world and myself? Are these perceptions accurate or distorted? This is best accomplished in a safe and supportive environment with a trustworthy individual such as a counselor who has been trained in the recovery process.

One goal of therapy is not to help us simply feel better, but also to help us get better! It is important to remember that self-examination is a process, and it takes time, willingness and commitment. Commitment to the recovery process involves compete honesty, attending weekly therapy sessions, completing any take-home work, participating in group therapy sessions, practicing newly acquired skills, and putting new information to work in our lives. Most often, regularly attending 12-step recovery groups and getting a sponsor are essential as well.

In therapy we learn how to get honest with others and ourselves. We learn how to ask for what we need in a direct and assertive manner. We learn how to embrace our true self and release the false self. We learn how to set boundaries that keep toxic people and situations at a distance. We learn mindfulness. We learn how to be self-led rather than live a life that is simply reacting to people and surroundings. We learn how to speak for ourselves rather than allowing the eating disorder to be our voice. We can learn what is true and then are we able to speak our truth using the voice of our true self.

11/03/2011

What Are You Not Saying?

Emotions play a role in all eating disorders - they are always about more than food. Eating disorders may also coincide with low self-esteem, psychological disorders, a history of abuse, or even a certain genetic makeup.

When people with anorexia and bulimia restrict food and/or purge, it's a symptom of an inner distress they are trying to calm, get rid of or express.

Expressing our feelings can be challenging. We may feel ashamed by what we think or feel, or we may feel alone because we don't realize other people feel the same way. We may be concerned about how someone else will feel if we say what's in our hearts, or we fear that we'll lose their love and support if they find out what we're really thinking.

Purging and restricting are shields that keep a person hidden in isolation so they don't need to have these difficult conversations. In order to heal from an eating disorder, though, it is vitally important that you speak up about what's bothering you, rather than continue to use behaviors that are hurting you.

Even though you may only be thinking about the body image issues that drive you to restrict or purge, if you dig deeper there are bound to be other issues going on. And these issues will only get more painful the longer you avoid them.

Therapy and support groups provide a safe place where people with eating disorders can express their innermost thoughts and feelings without fear. You can experience what it's like to communicate openly without being judged or criticized.

A therapist can help you sort out your feelings to determine what you may need to say to the important people in your life. That might be asking for a change if someone else's behavior is negatively impacting you, or it might be making an apology for your own behavior. You can even role play and rehearse these discussions so that you feel prepared beforehand.

At the White Picket Fence Counseling Center, we specialize in treating people with eating disorders, food addiction and emotional eating. Please contact us today if we can help you.

09/14/2011

Your Home is Where Your Recovery Lives

In last week's introduction to this topic, I mentioned that "as important as it is to do the inner work of healing from an eating disorder or food addiction, the physical environment around us can go a long way to establish and protect our serenity."

When you look around your home right now, does your outside environment match your inside environment?

Sometimes that match is not always a positive or helpful thing. For example, if your emotions are feeling chaotic and cluttered, you may also be expressing that by letting dishes and mail pile up, not taking care of your clothes, or not keeping up with regular cleaning. That can start a vicious cycle.

I suggest that you start thinking of your home as an expression not only of who you are, but also who you want to be. If you're looking to attract more order and calm into your life, you could start by tidying up your home and giving it a sense of order. If you're looking for more peace, you could choose sounds, colors and items that make you feel peaceful, and eliminate or relocate the things that rob you of your peace of mind. You don't need to be a design professional, just ask yourself which colors make you feel peaceful and wonderful.

Or you may be going through the opposite scenario, dealing with depression and lowered mood and energy. In your case, you may want to bring in colors that have more energy and passion – even if they're just used as accents (pillows, art work, etc.).

And as you grow, change and progress in your recovery, your home can evolve with you. Inexpensive changes like a fresh coat of paint, moving furniture around or updating your accessories can make a big difference.

For compulsive overeaters, anorexics, bulimics and food addicts, the kitchen is a very important room of the house. Though it's often the source of anxiety, there can be mixed emotions as well. Take an objective look at your kitchen, and consider how you could make a more pleasant, peaceful place to be. What would make eating at home a more enjoyable experience? What tools would make it easier to cook healthy meals?

Challenge yourself to eat more meals at home, and to fall in love with your own cooking!

Do you share your space with a spouse, children or roommate? Even though you may not have control over the entire house, you can still create a mini-sanctuary in a dressing room, guest room, or even a corner of the living room or bedroom where you have a comfy chair, inspirational books and your journal.

These home updates don't have to happen all at once. Next week, I'll share a new approach to housework and decluttering that will make it easier to start and to keep going at your own pace. Then later this month, I'll send along more resources that will help you create a haven in your home. We're also planning a workshop on this topic. If you would like to attend, please visit http://www.whitepicketfencecounselingcenter.com/contact.shtml to request the details.

08/18/2011

Upcoming Groups and Workshops - New Starts and Ideas

Upcoming Groups and Workshops will help you get a jump start in your personal growth process.  Click here to view and download your own printable copyTell us what you think of the new workshops - let us also know what interests YOU!

07/05/2011

Seeing The Truth

In previous articles, we've been looking at the issue of denial. Denial is one of several defense mechanisms we all find ourselves using, even if we're not aware of it. When we use a defense mechanism, we are trying to protect ourselves from unpleasant emotions and feelings.
 
Although on the surface this sounds like a good thing, this tactic works against us by keeping us from seeing things as they truly are, effectively addressing our problems and issues, and moving forward with our lives in a positive way.
 
Some of the most frequently used defense mechanisms in individuals with eating disorders are rationalization, projection and denial.
 
When we use rationalization in relation to food, we use a plausible excuse to justify our behavior. ("Although I planned it, I didn’t eat that snack because I knew I was going to eat again in three hours!")
 
Projection is when we assign our own thoughts, feelings or motives to another person, e.g., accusing a co-worker of being angry at you rather than recognizing your own anger.
 
Denial, the most common defense mechanism, is when we completely reject that we have a thought or feeling, or that we are engaging in a specific behavior. ("It wasn't me who ate all the ____________”! or “I am training for the triathlon only because I can have structured workouts with a group and not be exercising alone in my house”.)
 
Reducing the use of defense mechanisms helps us to engage in the process of personal growth. As we rely less on defense mechanisms, we become more in touch with ourselves. We begin to increase our awareness of our thoughts and feelings and develop a healthy acceptance of those thoughts and feelings. We become less critical and judgmental of ourselves, and learn to develop a repertoire of coping strategies that, in the long run, serve us much better than our defense mechanisms. Aside from connecting better with ourselves, we also connect more with others, and that's a very good thing! 

06/14/2011

Who does your addiction hurt?

This month we're looking at denial, a big issue for people with all types of addictions, including food addiction and eating disorders.
 
Denial in relationships

Addicts often think their behavior is invisible to others. It's like how little kids play peek-a-boo. They think that as soon as they cover their eyes, we can't see them, either. Dogs will do the same thing – as soon as they turn away from you, they'll try and get away with stuff they shouldn't be doing because they think they've turned invisible.
 
There's an expression that food addicts and those with eating disorders "wear" their disease. Whether it's excess weight, dull eyes and complexion, swollen glands or a sad expression, there's not much about the effects of an eating disorder that are hidden – especially to the people closest to them.
 
Food addicts and emotional eaters may also be in denial about how their addiction impacts the other people in their lives. These disorders affect everyone in the family. And that's a sad fact to face.
 
Breaking through the denial
 
Overcoming denial is one of the first steps of recovery – sometimes people address it before they even make the call to come and see us. Yet breaking through denial is like peeling an onion.
 
For someone who's always been a "good girl," it can be shocking to realize that you're lying about what you're eating, how much you're eating, or what you're doing with food and exercise. Or maybe it's something else – like shopping, over-spending, or people-pleasing.
 
While only the person with the problem can face the denial and make that breakthrough, there are some strategies that we use in therapy to help make that happen.
 
Motivational interviewing is a form of questioning that confronts the way someone is thinking, and provides evidence for a new way of thinking. For example, addicts can easily get caught up in "all or nothing" thinking. In that case, the therapist can point out options in the middle area, which the person may not even have considered.
 
Groups are an excellent way to pierce the denial, because you'll hear other people say they have a problem. If you can relate to what they've shared, it may open your mind to acknowledging that you have the problem as well. You'll also be able to support other people and witness as they get through their denial as well.
 
Is there something you've been denying to yourself or others? Is it time to break through?

05/31/2011

Self-Care Tips for You

This post is by White Picket Fence Counseling Center therapist Janet McCurdy.
 
Most of us feel the effects of daily stressors, overbooked calendars, work and home responsibilities, and too little sleep. When we experience stress, our muscles tense, our heart rate increases, and our breathing speeds up and becomes more shallow. Remaining in a state of stress can lead to feelings of irritability, depression and being "burned out," and can contribute to other health problems.
 
During these busy times, taking care of ourselves requires effort, planning and a commitment to our own health and wellness.
 
Each time we fly, we are reminded during the safety demonstration to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first before helping others around us. Good advice. When we take care of ourselves, we are happier and healthier, and better versions of ourselves at home, at work and in the community.
 
Learning to relax and quiet our minds for just a few minutes each day is an essential part of healthy self-care. We are all different, so how we relax will be individual to each of us. A walk outdoors, a hot bath or shower, a few minutes alone in a quiet room, listening to music, reading a good book, or practicing yoga are a few ideas of ways in which we can reduce our stress and take care of ourselves.
 
Learning where we hold tension in our bodies and how to let it go can also have a positive effect on managing the stressors that we face each day. Guided relaxation CDs and MP3 files can be very helpful in leading us through the steps to full-body relaxation. The University of Michigan offers several relaxation audio files on their MHealthy website at:http://hr.umich.edu/mhealthy/programs/mental_emotional/understandingu/tools/relaxation_exercises.html
 
Try a couple and see if they are useful to you.
 
By regularly planning time for ourselves, we are demonstrating our commitment to our personal health and wellness. Self-care is a gift we deserve to receive every day. Be good to yourself. Take care of yourself.

05/26/2011

Where to learn more about Co-Dependency and Boundaries

Self Test for You

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see whether your “helping” behavior may actually be co-dependency:
  1. Do you have a hard time saying no to others, even when you are very busy, financially struggling, or completely exhausted?
  2. Are you always sacrificing your own needs for everyone else?
  3. Do you feel more worthy as a human being because you have taken on a helping role?
  4. If you stopped helping your friends, would you feel guilty or worthless?
  5. Would you know how to be in a friendship that doesn’t revolve around you being the “helper”?
  6. If your friends eventually didn’t need your help, would you still be friends with them? Or would you look around for someone else to help?
  7. Do you feel resentful when others are not grateful enough to you for your efforts at rescuing them or fixing their lives?
  8. Do you sometimes feel like more of a social worker than a friend in your relationships?
  9. Do you feel uncomfortable receiving help from other people? Is the role of helping others a much more natural role for you to play in your relationships?
  10. Does it seem as if many of your friends have particularly chaotic lives, with one crisis after another?
  11. Did you grow up in a family that had a lot of emotional chaos or addiction problems?
  12. Are many of your friends addicts, or do they have serious emotional and social problems?
  13. As you were growing up, did you think it was up to you to keep the family functioning?
  14. As an adult, is it important for you to be thought of as the “dependable one”?
If you answered “yes” to a lot of these questions, you may indeed have a problem with co-dependency. This does not mean that you are a flawed person. It means that you are spending a lot of energy on other people and very little on yourself. If it seems that a lot of your friendships are based on co-dependent rescuing behaviors, rather than on mutual liking and respect between equals, you may wish to step back and rethink your role in relationships.If you suspect that your helping behavior is a form of co-dependency, a good therapist or counselor can help you gain perspective on your actions and learn a more balanced way of relating to others.

Here is a list of books and resources about co-dependency and boundaries:

Co-dependent No More by Melanie Beattie
Co-dependent No More Workbook by Melanie Beattie
Co-dependents Guide to the Twelve Steps by Melanie Beattie
The New Codependency by Melanie Beattie
Language of Letting Go by Melanie Beattie
Where to Draw the Line by Anne Katherine, M.A.
Boundaries by Anne Katherine, M.A.
Codependence and the Power of Detachment by Karen Casey
Co-Dependence by Ann Wilson Schaef
Transforming the Co-Dependent Woman by Sandy Bierig

Internet Resources­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­:­
Co-Dependents Anonymous
Al-Anon Family Groups

Are you interested in coming to a workshop in June about Co-dependency and Boundaries? If so, get special e-flyer sent to you in advance so you can register early!  Contact me by email or call our office.

05/11/2011

Putting Yourself First – Really?

Self-care is a common theme in our therapy sessions with clients dealing with eating disorders and food addiction. We often encourage them to put themselves first and take better care of themselves.
 
We understand that you have responsibilities to care for the other people in your life, but it's our job as therapists to remind you that you won't have anything to give if you neglect to take care of yourself. That's why later this month, Janet McCurdy will share some helpful self-care suggestions for you.
 
Putting yourself first, though – really? Maybe it's a lot to ask. And maybe that's why people don't do it. Here are a few other reasons that you may tend to put others first:
 
  • Helping other people gives you a warm fuzzy feeling – and this may be the only time you feel that.
  • It seems selfish to do things for yourself.
  • This is how you learned to be, from the adults who influenced you as a child.
  • You're concerned that no one else will do it, or they won't do it as well.
  • It's scary to let go of control.
  • It's a defense mechanism against thinking about or working on your own problems.
 
Perhaps you need to try to put yourself side-by-side with your loved ones, and take care of yourself and them equally. Maybe balance is the key. After all, it's not an either/or scenario – you or them. Can you consider doing as much for yourself as you do for others?
 
Can you put as much care into feeding yourself as you to do when feeding your family?
 
Can you block off the time to book your own medical appointments – and get yourself there – the same as you would if someone else asked you?
 

If putting yourself first seems like too big of a step, at least make sure your self-care is getting equal attention.