Beautiful views, distracting background noise. Kind of like other areas in our lives. Looks good from the outside but doesn't feel good to be there.
Waikiki beach in Hawaii is the stuff dreams are made of. Clear water, sweet surf, breathtaking sunsets. It looks as good in person as it does in the travel brochures.
My work has brought me here several time this year. I thought maybe it was the fact that I was working instead of playing that left me feeling not-quite-right about it. This morning I stopped long enough to listen, and this is what I heard.
Traffic noise. City traffic. Garbage trucks backing up. Buses honking horns. Police sirens. I look at the ocean and can't hear the surf. There is so much more to happiness than the physical aspect of how we look, where we live, what we drive, and who we love.
The bigger questions are:
1. How does it feel to be in your skin, in your car, in your home, in your head?
2. Are you pretending it doesn't hurt when it really does?
3. Are you thinking if you ignore the problem it will go away?
4. Are you waiting for someone to rescue you?
5. Are you hatching an escape plan?
6. Are you staying too busy to notice your feelings at all because if you did, you might have to do something you're not prepared to do?
I'm answering these questions in my journal today. How about you?
Any time we try to make a change in life, our head steps in to argue for the status quo. "I'm too tired." "It's too hard." "I'll start tomorrow."
Here are 10 good reasons why now is a good time to do the work of change.
1. Gain high self-esteem and feel like you are good enough.
2. Know who you are, how you feel and what you want.
3. Learn to trust appropriately and share yourself with loved ones.
4. Lose your fear of what other people will think.
5. Attract people who want you, not those who need you. And stay because you want to, not because you need to.
6. Face and express anger without violence or shutting down.
7. Tell the truth about how you feel without the need to defend, explain or apologize.
8. Hold reasonable expectations for yourselves and others.
9. Face your deepest fears (rejection or disapproval)
10. Embrace intimacy and form close, loving relationships.
BONUS: Stop the critical voices in your head.
Control and trust are 2 areas that block intimacy in our lives.
Because trust has been damaged - sometimes by overt or covert abuse - we make every attempt to control our environment and the people in it.
So we won't ever have to feel frightened, powerless or hopeless again. Fear of loss of control, whether it be over emotions, thoughts, feelings, will, actions, or relationships is pervasive.
Repeatedly told to ignore the obvious, deny our own feelings, and distrust the accuracy of our own perceptions, we eventually begin to distrust not only other people but our own feelings and senses as well.
Father is passed out on the couch, mom's face is buried in a bowl of soup yet nothing is wrong.
Some of us were taught very early that it is necessary to hide our feelings. We become experts at mastering the art of repressing, denying, or minimizing them. Often the child is told explicitly, "Don't you dare say that to me; don't even think it!" or "Don't upset your mother. You have to be more understanding."
After years of practice, we may equate acknowledging emotional needs with being vulnerable or even weak. Feeling vulnerable is equated with being out of control—a state of being which we find intolerable.
Today let's play a game. A "what if" game. If you could be feeling anything you want, and feeling that way wouldn't make you a bad person, what would you be feeling? Write about it and share here.
Emotional safety is measured by our ability to be who we really are with a particular person in a certain setting. It is a precursor to intimacy - "into me see." That means I have to feel safe enough to let you in, to share my thoughts, feelings, and experiences without fear of judgment.
For me, trust was an issue when I began this work so many years ago. Turns out, I made a vow as a child to 'get them before they get me' when it came to authority figures, mostly male. So you can imagine my disillusionment when I couldn't find a safe place in marriage, church, or corporate America. I was looking out there for the thing that would make me whole.
Some children, some marriages, and some jobs later I have learned a few things about myself and about trust. It's an inside job. Nobody is going to give it to you and nobody can take it away from you either.
My thoughts really did become things, my fears came to pass, and I reinforced the beliefs that were keeping me lonely. "You can't trust men, they only want one thing." or "I can take care of myself, I don't need a man." or "There are no good men left, all the good ones are taken." My thoughts were my protective wall. What I thought made me independent was squeezing the love and life right out of me.
My intention was to meet a man with whom I could bring all of myself to the table. I wanted true intimacy - intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I asked God to bring me someone I wouldn't have to 'dummy down' for, or pretend I didn't know what I know, want what I want, see what I see, and say so. I changed my mind, which changed my actions and my expectations, which changed my result. The rest is history-in-the-making.
In today's journal - even if you haven't done any of the exercises to this point - answer the questions below. Then re-read what you wrote, and write a 2nd paragraph about how you're feeling today. Now. In this moment.
If you aren't sure if you are "codependent", check the following statements, which describe many typical characteristics of the "codependent" personality.
Oftentimes, we find that both the primary addict and those closest to them are or have become highly sensitive people. They can feel, read and react to the energy in the room before anyone speaks a word.
Don't feel happy, content, or peaceful with themselves.
Look for happiness outside themselves.
Latch onto whatever or whoever they think can provide happiness.
Feel terribly threatened by the loss of any thing or person they think provides their
Didn't feel love and approval from their parents.
Don't love themselves.
Believe other people can't or don't love them.
Desperately seek love and approval
Often seek love from people incapable of loving.
Equate love with pain.
Feel they need people more than they want them.
Try to prove they are good enough to be loved.
Worry whether other people love or like them.
Center their lives around other people.
Look to relationships to provide all their good feelings.
Worry that other people will leave them.
Feel trapped in relationships.
Leave bad relationships and form new ones that don't work either.
Wonder if they will ever find love.
Think and feel responsible for other people - for other people's feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs, well-being, and ultimate destiny.
Feel anxiety, pity, and guilt when other people have a problem.
Feel compelled - almost forced - to help that person solve the problem.
Feel angry when help given isn't effective.
Wonder why others don't do the same for them.
Find themselves saying "yes" when they mean "no".
Do things they don't really want to be doing.
Do more than their fair share of the work.
Try to please others instead of themselves.
Feel safest when giving.
Feel insecure and guilty when somebody gives to them.
Feel sad because they spend their whole lives giving to others and nobody gives to them.
Find themselves attracted to needy people.
Find needy people attracted to them.
Feel bored, empty, and worthless if they don't have a crisis in their lives.
Believe deep inside other people are somehow responsible for them.
Excerpted from Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
Over time, addicts become isolated.
Their friends and relatives watch and usually try to help. That helping may take the form of strategically placing books around the house for them to notice and read. It may mean reminding them continually (also known as nagging) about what their behavior is doing to them or others. It can even mean taking an attitude of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" and picking up a drug of choice yourself just to get by.
An earmark of addicted defensiveness is the attitude of "the best defense is a good offense." Compulsive people are pros at turning the tables and making their behavior someone else's fault. Over time, those same helpers begin to wonder if they truly are to blame. They feel confused and alienated from the one they love.
Ultimately, in an act of self-preservation, loved ones give up on the addict. One at a time, they stop calling or talking or watching as the addict spirals to a bottom he may or may not ever hit. Addicts comfort themselves with thoughts like, “I didn’t need them anyway, I can do it myself.” or “I’ll show them.” As they go for the next fix to feel better right now.
If they haven’t crossed over the line into true addiction yet, they may be able to pull themselves out of it. However, by the time an addict has tried and failed more than twice, it’s pretty safe to assume that if they could’ve quit on their own, they’d have done it by now.
In 12-step rooms, an oft-quoted slogan is "We're only as sick as our secrets."
What secrets are you keeping that are getting in the way of living your dreams? What do you wish someone knew about you but you haven't dared speak of it for fear of judgement, criticism or condemnation?
Journal about it and share here.
Kim Halsey is a human resource professional and executive coach who helps people overcome life damaging habits, restore important relationships, and live their dreams without drama.
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