"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.