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Breaking Free From Codependency

by Claudine Sweeney
May 26th 2021

Have you ever felt like you wanted to make everybody's life easier? Free from pain or even just negative emotion? All at the expense of your own well-being? Well, you may be experiencing codependen... More

you're listening to the Rise up and Shine podcast with Claudine and Ashley as an empty nester and a mom with young kids. We have both shared, very similar and very real struggles from chaos to coaches. We now help other women live an authentic and meaningful life. So tune in weekly for girl talk and tips on how you too can rise up and let your light shine bright. This is the rise up and Shine podcast. Mhm Hello everyone welcome back to another episode at the Rise up and Shine podcast. Uh so I have a question for you actually a few questions that might resignation with you and I want you really to think about this and answer to yourself honestly, do you feel like you are always taking care of others, especially before yourself or do you let your friends or maybe your Children or your spouse always decide what to eat or what movie to watch, do you always let them make the choice or do you always feel like you need to fix someone else's situation because you want their life to be pain free or My last question yes, your mood very dependent on someone else's mood.

So if you answered yes to any of these and I personally have answered yes to all of these, You very well might be struggling with co dependence today we are diving into co dependency now co dependency is one of those silent killers, I like to think about it because it has personally killed my self esteem and my quality of life and my health and I had no idea, I had no idea what I was doing, I just thought I was being a good person, a good christian girl, good christian wife, good christian mom, good christian friend. And I did not realize it was to an extent where it was damaging me and my well being and health and I realized especially going through counseling and doing a lot of research on my own. It was this thing called co dependency. So claudine and I really wanted to dive into this today because especially women can very much fall susceptible to co dependency and we may not even realize it.

So we're going to break open what co dependency is, share experiences. I have a lot of it where my healing came from, how I was able to heal myself through, you know, from this co dependency lifestyle and live in freedom. I meant that's so good actually, this is a powerful topic because like you said, many, many, many of us can struggle with co dependency now, it's defined as an excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner um on a high level co dependency can be enabling with an alcoholic or drug addict. Okay, so that's the term first came in use with that. Um it really was the partners of people that were struggling and the ways they would cover or try to make it right for that person, right? On a lower level. Co dependency can be people pleasing for one's own emotional wellness, like I say, I'm okay if you're okay, right, that's kind of a lower level. Like I'm okay if you're okay now as a mom, that can happen a lot.

I struggled a lot with that. Like if my kids were okay then I was okay, but if they were suffering due to their own choices, I'm not talking about an illness or something, you know severe, but it was just so hard for me to see them suffer and I need them to be okay. So I could be okay. So this is an attachment that is unhealthy right? We don't know how to be separate, we don't know how to separate ourselves from those closest to us. And it's an emotionally unhealthy way to live now. Usually people with co dependency almost always, as you've said, usually have low self esteem, right? They have poor boundaries, don't know how to say no and they're usually the giver in the relationship with your a taker, right? So those are some of the signs of co dependency. So it can be very confusing as a christian, right? I think for me I probably struggled with co dependency on a very, very light side. I had low self esteem for sure and I didn't even know how to make boundaries let alone what they were.

And then I became a christian and I started reading scriptures, like deny yourself and do nothing out of selfish ambition and love others. And so all of a sudden my life changed and all of a sudden I was doing so much for other people and not because I I wanted to, I did want to but that wasn't the only motivation. I felt like I needed to do it for approval. I felt like I needed to do it to be okay. Like if I behave in this way I'm going to get approval, I'm going to be told that I'm needed and I'm wanted, so I did it for the wrong motivation. So it can be very confusing because we read those scriptures and we want to please God, right, we want to live a life that honors God, we want to live a life that's pleasing to God, but the same time we have to live a healthy life, a life that is empowering where we can rise up and shine, not where we're just so um burned out, stressed out, you know, in living a life that's, it does not at all glorify God.

So gosh, yeah, Clotting, I feel like I can just say so much on this topic. Yeah. So when I was and I shared this many times on the podcast, when I was really feeling at my worst, probably the root issue was co dependency, I would have to say to narrow it down. Um there are lots of little things, but it all funneled into my co dependency and again I didn't even realize I just thought, gosh, I'm doing my best, I'm just doing my best for everybody, why am I unhappy? Why I'm so exhausted? Why am I why marriage struggling? Why can I not show up well for my Children? Why am I losing my temper like all these things? But it really funneled into the co dependency and I just learned so much about the whole that it had on me and how it is very unbiblical. Yes. And and I think that especially as christian women, we have then um misunderstanding or missing the point yes.

Of some of the scriptures that we've all memorized and we know so well denying yourself, right? And I'm going to say some of them because they might trigger you. I know that can still trigger me denying yourself, deny myself or consider others better than yourselves, right. Those two are probably the biggest ones I know for myself, and many of us can think, but we're supposed to do that. We're supposed to consider others better than yourselves. So, and I have looked into the background of this because I've been learning a lot about what is the culture, what was the culture like in jesus time and the roman culture? Your quality of life was really based on your status. So right here, it was addressing the status, right? That you know, are you rich or you're poor? It's like, okay, if you have more money than your higher status. You know, you're higher up on the ladder. Um but it was really taking into account that we're all God's Children, right? We are all loved were all forgiven.

Were all shown grace and mercy. We need to treat each other that way. And so and right before that scripture, consider others better than yourself. It says in humility, right? In humility, not vain. Conceit right vein. Don't be vain, don't think so highly of yourself. But that was What was going on then when you think of yourself better than you should be, does not mean that oh, I need to lower myself to nothing and zero and everybody else is a 10. You know, we're not supposed to be doormats. And so I think we have really just misconstrued this message and we took it as oh, I need to do do do for everybody else while I sacrifice myself, basically and right, you know, I show up, you know, not doing very well anyway. And then you burn out and you know, that's it. You're done physically emotionally. We don't show up are so well. It's interesting because the scripture that comes to mind for me is you shall love your neighbor as yourself. What we always focus on, you shall love your neighbor, right?

Right? But the last little part of that says as yourself assuming we love ourselves, right? But there has to be, it's implied that you have to love yourself, right? We know what love is. Love is patient love is kind. Love is not um, easily angry, easily anger. Love, no record of raw love is patient love is kind. Love is not easily angered. Those are things how we need to treat ourselves. We need to have a healthy sense of self love in order to love others in a healthy God honoring way. And so some of the things we're going to talk about today is how to have a healthy self, right, separate from others. Like my husband is an amazing man, he's an amazing man of God. But when I go before God down the road one day, it's just gonna be me. It's not gonna be me and him, it's not gonna be me, him and my four Children and all my best friends. It's just gonna be me and God, right? So there is a sense there is a sense of individual ation, right?

It's just me. I'm an individual. So we need to develop a healthy self, not a self of self worship, not a sense of self worship, but a healthy sense of self hood. For me, the number one thing is to understand who we are before God, not our behaviors, right? But who we are before God. We are dearly loved. We are fearfully made. We are, there's so many things, it's so important. That's what helped me really grow my self esteem is understanding who I was before God, nothing that I did on my own. Not my behavior is not my actions, but who I am just because of God fearfully and wonderfully made. That's right. Yeah. And we don't we don't allow ourselves to be us, you know, just our true selves. And I remember really sitting down and thinking about like who am I really I mean, outside of my roles of wife and mom, Who am I? You know? And I really wrestled with that. I lost myself so much that I didn't know strengths.

I can tell you all my weaknesses. I cannot tell you working at that. So good at that. And I just completely lost myself. I don't know what are the things I like, what are the things I don't like? What are you know, I was in such a funk that I just couldn't even identify those things and that is not fearfully and wonderfully made. That is man made by outside influences, right? That's that's not being true to who God created us to be. That's right. So that was just really powerful and almost like really sad to think, oh my gosh, I really struggled with that. I did not know myself outside of you know my roles. Yeah, yeah. You've talked about that before. Identity versus role and we have an identity that is separate from our roles, Another practical for developing a healthy self is to get our need for approval and esteem meant by God himself, right? I mean he is the ultimate approval and esteem maker. Like my approach.

I want his approval. Of course I want everybody else's approval. Of course I do. I am human. I want my husband to approve of me. I want my Children to approve of me. Sometimes when they were teens, they did not approve of me so much. They've come around the corner and and my esteem, those have got to come from God in his words. When I try to seek it from others, I am almost always let down. Right. There are times I just can't behave perfect enough to please other people. And it's exhausting. That's the exhausting part trying to get other people to approve us or to get our needs met by someone else. I mean it was exhausting for me. I burned out. I couldn't do it. But when I saw it to just get my approval and esteem from God. Oh my gosh! What a difference like he gives it in abundance unconditionally doesn't mean my behavior can be whatever it wants to be. I'm not saying that at all. But oh my gosh, there, here's an unconditional source of love and joy and peace, waiting to fill me up, fill my heart up well.

And I will also add to that that this sounds easily done, right? Not easily done. So let's I want to clarify because and I'll share my personal experience. I mean it is so true. It is such a simple practical but you have to practice it over and over and over and rewire your brain that that was where I really took the renewing of your mind to rewire my brain and be transformed. Right? Those are scriptures I'm going to hang onto. Exactly. And the way I did that I had like my brain will intellectually I know God says this about me but my heart didn't feel it right and where your heart is. I mean that's the wellspring of life and I was not feeling very well. So I realized that my heart was just a very unhealthy place but intellectually I knew these things. So really what it took was meditating on how God views me and not how others are viewing me or what I think their opinion is of me and also just really talking to myself a lot.

I had to talk to myself a lot guys and I'm probably sound crazy but that is so healing because you have to kind of talk yourself down and rationalize with your emotional self that still wants to behave in that co dependent way. Like really I used to do this. Uh Babe my husband, are you okay? Like if you seem down or quiet is anything bothering you know? Are you sure? Yeah. Are you sure? I kind of don't believe you did. I do something wrong? No. You sure what can I do? But I was so probably annoying and you laugh about it now, but it's like I was such a need of approval. Like, I needed his mood to be friendlier and more chipper. Like, I like to be so I could believe, oh, everything's okay, and then still, if he said no, I'm fine, I'm fine. Even if he said I'm tired, I would really sit and think about this story. Like, he's not being honest with me and something happened, he's not talking, he's upset with me.

And I would just sit in that place and make myself miserable and then you can assume how our relationship was because that's how I would, you know, I would get triggered and then I'd sit in that place and be unhappy and then he'd be like, what is going on? And but I had such an addiction to approval that it was very hard for me to just accept. Okay. He says he's OK, okay. And it took a lot of practice, but to get there to the place where like, oh, I'm just not letting it bother me. And that takes setting boundaries, you know, and that takes certain practical that we're going to share that I really had to practice on a daily basis right out because it will feel impossible. It will feel like an impossible, like I can't not get out of that place. You really can't if I can do it, you can do it well, and God has given us these brains that are plastic, right? We can change our neuron, our neural pathways. We can change them by our thinking, New Lord. So it is like going to the gym. It is like working out, we don't go to the gym one time and get these beautiful strong biceps which I talked about on my last, our last podcast episode, one of my dreams is to have must muscle definition.

So it's not going to take one time at the gym, it's going to take consistent training. And same with our minds with our brains, it's that consistent, creating new thought patterns consistently. And then those become our default thinking. So it's not easy and write down those affirmations. Yeah, that's what I wrote down affirmations. I think I had about five of them put them in my car on the mir, even as my screen saver. So I would read them over and over. And even though I didn't believe it, it's like the fake it till you make it right. Like intellectually. I know these things. So I knew enough to write it down, but then to get your heart to follow suit and start believing it, you have to meditate on those over and over and over, right? It happens. And you touched on another practical, which is setting appropriate healthy boundaries, which we've done a whole episode on that. So we won't dive deep here, but really understanding how to and the importance of setting healthy boundaries to keep ourselves separate. It does not mean we say no all the time.

That wouldn't be loving. I don't say no to my husband and my Children and my friends all the time. But there are times when it's appropriate to say no and that can take work that can take working with a coach or working with a counselor to learn how to build appropriate healthy boundaries because that's not something at least for me, it was not natural. I didn't even understand that concept, let alone how to do it. And again, we have a whole episode so scroll through, you'll see one on boundaries. We talk about that more. And then the last practical for me is check your motives and make wise choices because I love to help people. But am I doing it because I really want to and I want to honor God and I will not please God, or am I doing it because I'm afraid of rejection. I need approval. What will people think of me if I don't do it? The motivation is very different. Um you know, part of growing older too. And I will say wiser, I mean, I think it just happens, but you get to a point where you don't care as much what people think it's a wonderful place to be.

I mean I do to a certain extent because I'm still human, but certainly not like in my twenties or thirties. I just, it's like, well they don't have to like me, They have free will, they don't have to like me, They don't have to approve of me. Obviously the people close to me, I want them to love me and approve of me, but there is this freedom and so checking our motives are hard of why we do what we do will help us see if we're being codependent or for just being giving because there is a difference. And I'm not saying let's stop giving and let's stop denying ourselves and certainly not go against the scriptures, but what's the motive behind it? Yeah, that was so I opening for me um probably about 2, 2.5 years ago that it was a fear of upsetting someone for the disapproval or rejection. We have a huge, you know, fear of rejection in our culture and just as human beings, but especially if you've experience certain things in your life that can definitely play a factor there.

But I realized, and I would ask myself in very specific situations, you know, because again, one thing one way to tell if you might be co dependent is, can you say no, can you say no? And I, for me it was to the extreme, I could not say no. I would like be shaking, I'd be so anxious, I'd be crying, like I can't do it. My husband's like why can't you say no, it's not like your heart's good. I'm like, I can't, I feel like it's a sin. My goodness. Yeah. Oh my gosh, but what happens is in some relationships, unhealthy relationships, they might feed off of that. And then it's harder even to set up those boundaries. Absolutely recognizing, okay, I can't say no because I'm afraid of what they'll think. I'm afraid they're going to be upset, I'm afraid they're going to reject me or and even if it doesn't make logical sense, it feels like such a strong feeling that it's very difficult to do that.

But as you said, like getting older and learning a lot of these things, oh my gosh, it was like, it really didn't change my relationships all that much. But one thing I realized that hey, I can also schedule in me time, like if I need me time, if I can't do something for this person because I just need like a break that is okay, that's not being selfish, you know, and one thing that we can practice a little bit more of the self care, but it's very hard for us as christian women and if we struggle with co dependency to practice self care, but it's okay because then you feel better and you can show up better for others and you can serve when you're able to serve, it's not and I don't want to, it tends to be more like I can't, like I really can't, I'm just so stretched and that is okay and even if you upset someone that's okay, you know you will get through it, you will feel the, you know, you'll feel bummed man, that's a bummer and but sitting it for a little bit, it'll pass, it will pass, it will feel much, much worse if you keep giving in and keep giving it and I kept myself in that place for far too long.

That's a great point. And you know, I I think of jesus example, the rich young ruler, this is really powerful for me when we're talking about co dependency, the rich young ruler, Jesus was calling him to follow him and give up everything and the rich young ruler to say he didn't want to, he said no thank you and he turned around and walked away and he was very sad, the rich young ruler was very sad because he understood that he was giving up something important and wasn't able to follow jesus for whatever reason, but the example for me is that jesus didn't chase him, Jesus then didn't get discouraged and go oh my gosh I failed or now that's a good point, yeah, it was really powerful to me as I thought about his example, like he knew who he was right, I mean of course he was jesus or not, but he was very solid in who he was, his relationship with God obviously intertwined and then he turned right back around, I went to his disciples and said how hard is it for Richmond, he continued teaching the lesson that he had to offer and did not take it and he didn't take it personally, wasn't about boundaries, people, he had boundaries, he had self esteem, he didn't need his approval from someone following him, he was you know, growing is following, he turned the rich young ruler walked away, but jesus didn't chase him, didn't feel sad, kept going about his purpose, knew who he was and unlike that's the example that we're not going to make everyone happy, not everyone's going to love us and follow and accept and accept us, they're not.

But you know, that was a great example. So I never read it like that, I love that. Well it came to me while I was preparing for this podcast, I was like how does jesus behave, how is he the opposite of co dependent and that was it to me, I'm like, you know, had someone walked away from him. I mean there are many, many examples but that's the one that came to me like it didn't ruin his day. He kept, he turned around and went about his business so if yeah wants to read it right? Yeah, 1916, if anyone wants to read that, but that's it. His emotions weren't tied to someone else's emotions, our emotions are not tied to someone else's emotion, our friends, our relationships are close loved ones, they get to feel and think whatever they choose to feel and think and we get to feel and think whatever we choose to feel and think they're not tied together. I know we like to think they are, but they really aren't. So that's the lesson. That's the less I'm going to add a little something a little plug in there for you folks. Um I in my home, how we talked about in the very beginning, right?

That question is your mood dependent on someone else's mood. So that really rang true in my home, right? So when my Children were getting upset, I would get upset, right? And I if my husband was upset, I would get upset, he got quiet. I would get quiet. Yeah, I, you know, mirror neurons. So I would mirror there mood and I it was just default basically. And then I wasn't happy because I like positive vibes only, but no one else is following my rule. And so but I would be discouraged and frustrated because I had this expectation just be happy. Be happy 100%. Why can't we all be? But you see how happy I am to be happy. Like me darn it. Oh my God, it was just so just correct me up now. It wasn't funny then, but it's funny now, but it was so true. Like I have the option and the power to set the tone of the household.

So that does not mean that everyone is going to feel as I feel, right, I will experience what I want to experience. So for example if Children or my husband or whoever is not in a great mood, I do not have to sit in the middle of it and feel it with them. If I know that, hey, I can be more susceptible to be brought down by their moon. I know that about myself. Now. I'm gonna go upstairs and fold the laundry and watch a movie. I'm going to go sit outside where I like to have my peace and quiet, you know, or I'm going to go, let's listen to music or go on a walk, listen to our podcast. Uh, you know, so I made other choices that I don't have to sit there and I actually had a conversation with my husband. He's like, it seems like you keep disappearing. I said, no, I'm not avoiding you guys. I just, it's challenging for me to kind of be around the environment right now. So I'm just going to go to something else at the moment. You know? Yeah, not a big deal when you guys are getting along, I'll come back and it was okay for everybody.

Everybody was fine with it. I felt good because that was my boundary. I set up and I chose, hey, what I need right now, I didn't react, you know, and be burned out also and go in that, you know, default mode and I didn't have this high expectation for everybody to be happy and positive and let me get frustrated. So I was able to create the environment. I wanted, maybe I had to remove myself a little bit, but that's fine. There's nothing wrong with that. That doesn't mean I'm neglecting my family. It just means I'm needing to show up for myself right now and take a little break, right? We allow our Children or our loved ones to do that. We can do it for ourselves too. So, so true. Well co dependency is a huge issue. We could talk for hours about this. I mean there are multitudes of books and other podcasts on this issue, but we hope we've given you a little bit a touch on it. Just maybe an awareness if this is something you struggle with and some healthy practical z to help overcome. And if you have any questions or thoughts, please drop us a line.

You can find us at mind over chaos dot com or Clotting Sweeney dot com and we are here to help you rise up and shine and live your best life now until next time. Thanks all right, everyone. Thank you for joining in on our conversation today here on the rise up and shine podcast. If you haven't already, please take a second to hit that subscribe button. So you never miss an episode and while you're at it, share this episode with a friend who, you know it can bless today if you want to visit us as well on our websites, you can catch clotting over at Clotting Sweeney dot com and Ashley at Mind over chaos dot com are links are in the description. We also have some free resources there for you as well. So remember ladies, no matter what you are facing in life, it is never too late to rise up and shine and live your best life. Mhm. Right.

Breaking Free From Codependency
Breaking Free From Codependency
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