Rewiring the Brain and Codependency

Rewiring the Brain and Codependency

When I was really struggling with codependency, I would wonder why in the world I would say, “Yes” when I wanted to say, “No”. When someone would ask me to do something, my brain would automatically shoot out, “Of course” without me thinking twice.  Then, I’d be like, “Oh shit. I did it again”, yet at the same time I’d kind of feel good, because I go the chance to help someone out with something. You know. I was the Master People Pleaser. The Brain and Codependency Those who research addiction assert that just as a drug addict’s brain gets a good dose of the good feeling neurotransmitter dopamine when they get a “hit”, so does the codependent’s brain when it gets a “hit” of “I get to do something to make someone else feel happy”.  Yes, this type of behavior makes an impact on the pleasure/pain area of the brain. So essentially, my sacrifice of time and energy in order to help someone else out gave me a dopamine boost, which is not a bad thing, but for those prone to addiction, it’s not a great thing. My brain would scream out for MORE! Yes, there is certainly a neural pathway that gets set up in the brain for codependent behaviors. Choosing healthy neural pathways The good news is that if you’re struggling with codependent characteristics, you have the chance to create new neural pathways in the brain that will alter your behavior.  You can make an INTENT to re-train your brain for new behavior and new outcomes.  How? Recognize your triggers. For me, when someone asks me...
Obsessive Thoughts and Codependency

Obsessive Thoughts and Codependency

If you struggle with codependency then you struggle with obsessive and compulsive thoughts about the person that you have an unhealthy attachment to.  How do I know? I’ve been there. I obsessed for over 5 years about my ex-partner. Almost all of my waking moments were thoughts about her.  If I was not with her I was thinking of ways to help her or make her life easier, writing her poems, figuring out how to make her smile, and so on. Now I must say that thinking about your partner can be a wonderful thing, but “obsessing” about your partner is toxic.  If you seem to always be thinking thoughts like, “What is he doing? Who is he talking to? Why won’t he text me back? Does he still love me?” then you are headed down a codependent path that will hurt your relationship.  If your world and life revolve around your partner and what he/she thinks of you, you may need to evaluate your relationship. Codependency and obsessive thoughts When I finally came to the realization that I could not live in an unhealthy relationship any longer, I had to learn how to stop the obsessive thoughts. I had to re-train my brain and let me tell you that it took time and effort.  I was not always perfect with it.  I kept thinking of what a good friend told me once about how my thought life was not obsessive before this relationship and that gave me hope.  I needed to know that I could gain control of my mind once again! I’m not sure what it will...
Clinginess is Not Attractive

Clinginess is Not Attractive

A clingy person is annoying. Do you know how I know that? I’ve been on both sides of it. I’ve encountered clingy people and I’ve been clingy.  Clinging is a psychological state that acts as a compulsion for attention.  The attention seeking person simply wants to feel good and will use various behaviors to accomplish this goal-including using another person to try to fill their empty void. Hey, we all want some attention now and then. We all want some affirmation and acceptance as well.  These are healthy desires, but for some people these desires go beyond “normal”. Clingy people want all of your attention.  They can’t get enough and if they aren’t getting it, they tend to freak out. Their world can literally cave because their insides depend on attention for temporary peace. Clinginess is actually an addiction: approval addiction.  Without the drug of approval and attention, literal cravings appear and can make a person do some crazy things that actually resemble withdrawal. What is interesting is that the behaviors that the needy person displays usually has the exact opposite effect of what they want. For example, let’s say a clingy gal is dating a guy and she just LOVES his attention and is continually vying for it.  Texting, calling, chatting, popping up at his work, etc.  She may get very upset if he does not text back, call her back, or wants to hang out with his friends.  She may voice her feelings and these things will not normally cause her guy to want to give her attention- it will push him away.  He may be thinking, “Wow....
How Do I Want to Be Loved?

How Do I Want to Be Loved?

I used to have no clue how I wanted to be loved, but I definitely knew I wanted to feel loved by my partner. I mean, I knew she loved me, but I just didn’t feel as if her words or actions were showing that. This pops up a lot when I talk to women.  They want to be loved and feel like they are loved, but their guys just don’t go to bat in this area like they want. Now, before I go any further, if you’re struggling with codependency, there is the possibility that your partner is showing you love in various ways, but you’re not feeling it because of your own insecurities. That has certainly happened to me in the past. Being in love is wonderful and it is always helpful when each partner feels loved by their partner due to words or actions. A long time ago I read a book called The Five Love Languages. It really helped me out in learning what ways a partner can help me feel like they love me.  Here, these are the five ways people like to receive love: Quality time together Receiving material gifts Receiving compliments and verbal acknowledgement Physical affection Acts of service Now, when I first read this book I was like, “Yes! I want ALL OF THEM!” Granted, all of those things are wonderful in a relationship, but usually you will feel drawn to one or two that really make you feel like your partner is still madly in love with you. For me, I’d have to say Quality Time Together and Physical Affection...
Ending Codependency

Ending Codependency

I remember the moment I finally succumbed to how codependency was ruining my life. I found myself crying uncontrollably sitting on my bed while on a cruise to the Bahamas. You’d think a vacation would have helped me feel happy, but I was far from happy. I was miserable! I guess I grew up with codependent characteristics. With a dad who was an alcoholic and mom who was clinically depressed, I tended to form my identity through trying to make them feel better.  I learned people pleasing 101 before I was the age of six and had a tough time owning my real emotions. It took me over three decades, a divorce, and a toxic relationship to realize my plight.  It was then that I came to the realization that I’d worn a mask all those years. My ego or shadow was 100% running the show! I pretended all was alright while I shoved so many feelings deep down because I was afraid to let them out. The fear of conflict bites. Long story short and through several years of intense internal pain, I got free from codependency characteristics.  Now, listen. I am not codependent. I am a human being and I struggled with some characteristics associated with codependency.  I do not believe that we should define ourselves by some label or a disease. If I had a dis-ease, it was with myself. I had no idea who I really was. I let old childhood wounds and society dictate to me my identity and that caused this cloud of depression to linger over me my whole life.  But as...
You Might Catch Her Eye, But Can You Catch Her Heart?

You Might Catch Her Eye, But Can You Catch Her Heart?

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s only common for us single people to think about the dating game, love, possible marriage, etc. While it does not bother me that I’m single on Valentine’s Day, of course I do look forward to the year that I’m able to plan the most romantic date with my sweet, sexy babe.  Until then, I bounce around in anticipation. For the millennial generation, relationships are taking on some interesting facets. Do you know that over half of the millennials no longer believe in death do them part? It’s not that they don’t want to, they’ve just seen and experienced too many divorces.  I mean, hey; haven’t we all. Still, a large 69 percent of them want to get married anyway. Sort of like a “beta marriage” I suppose. Let’s just try this out and see how it goes.  My opinion? That’s not such a bad idea considering how many people are miserable in a marriage because they don’t want to leave for one reason or another. Whether it’s because of the kids, financial reasons, fear, or laziness, many people just stay in a marriage that is pretty much dead. As we go forth to celebrate Valentine’s Day however we choose, let’s keep in mind that there are some healthy long-term relationships going on in the world and we can learn valuable lessons from them.  Relationships are great avenues for self-growth, so if you happen to find someone who is willing to do some work, be vulnerable, and hang tough, you’ll get to experience many Valentine’s Day celebrations with that person. Me?  I’m...
How to Stop Being Jealous

How to Stop Being Jealous

How to Stop Being Jealous Jealousy is the biggest parasite that eats away relationships all the time. It’s yuck. It drains. It blames. It sucks every bit of life from one or both partners and well, it’s just got to go!  Have you ever acted out on jealousy? Are you the type that goes into a jealous rage when he gets home late or seems to be secretly texting over there?  Do you drive yourself insane with irrational, jealous thoughts? Yes, jealousy kills. It’s just that simple, yet it’s not so simple to rid your relationship from it either. I know. I’ve been there. I had a spell in life where I was overly jealous and it was absolutely ridiculous. I would struggle with the silliest little things that most mature people would overlook, but there I was obsessing, checking, stalking (sort of), and questioning.  I’m not one bit proud of it. So, how do you begin to overcome jealousy?  First, admit that you have a problem.  Admit that you’ve snuck peaks at his phone more than once. You went through her purse, stalked her Facebook page, and even tried to login to check her email.  Every bit of that is not acceptable. The root of jealousy At the very core of jealousy is the fear of abandonment and insecurity.  You’re insecure and you fear the hell out of being abandoned. If he cheats, you’re doomed. Your life is over! You will be all alone and won’t be able to live!! Do you see how that sounds?  It’s irrational. First, if he cheats on you, by all means dump...
How to Attract Healthy Love Into Your life

How to Attract Healthy Love Into Your life

If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship, you know the pain and suffering that can occur for both partners. I mean, toxicity can take hold and cause years and years of negative symptoms like fear, anger, jealousy, control, and more. I know. I’ve been there.  I spent too many years wrestling with codependency issues, including the fear of abandonment, rejection, and neglect. It’s not just me either. There are many couples caught in the grip of codependent behaviors and don’t even know it. They live day in and day out dependent upon each other to gain a sense of self-worth and love. They grow angry and bitter, pointing fingers at each other, while dying a slow death inside.  The root?  Feelings of unworthiness and being unlovable. Most people can relate to feeling unloved or unworthy at one time or another in life.  Whether it comes as a result of childhood or adult wounds, the pain is real and the pain requires some attention. Many can get through such feelings and learn to love themselves well, but for around 20 percent of the population, codependency is a real issue.  They do not love themselves and look at another person to feel loved and when they don’t get it all hell can break loose. So how can you begin to attract healthy love into your life?  How can you go from seeking love and affirmation from another in order to feel good? Discover what you can do that makes you feel good.  At the root of feeling unworthy is the feeling that you are not worthy of love. Begin with...
Hey Codependent: Arm Yourself With Detachment

Hey Codependent: Arm Yourself With Detachment

If you struggle with codependent characteristics, then detachment is a key area you ought to get familiar with. Detach from what? Reality? People you love? Well, for me it was both at times, as when I was in the midst of codependency I was in deep and I needed to detach in order to get on the road to recovery. Some codependents are enmeshed in a relationship with an addict or alcoholic. Some are enmeshed with a narcissist. Some are enmeshed with just a rather selfish or unavailable person. Lastly, some are enmeshed with a rather normal person.  No matter what the scenario, a healthy detachment on your part is necessary in order to make progress in codependency recovery. The illusion of control I know you want to be in control of your relationship and life, but in reality you’re not. You’re attached to a fear of not being in control and therefore you manipulate and act out on codependent characteristics like jealousy, people pleasing, and terrible boundary setting skills. It took me years to learn that I don’t have to have things under control. Things don’t have to go the way I think they have to go.  Control is just an illusion. The power of detachment If you are struggling with codependency, then you have some inner issues that need to be contended to. In order for you to start taking care of yourself, you’re going to have to lovingly detach from your loved one. This is not cruel at all. This is you taking care of your side of the street while he or she takes care...
Divorced and Depressed?  It’s Time To Get Happy

Divorced and Depressed? It’s Time To Get Happy

Most people who go through a divorce experience a good bit of stress, anxiety, and a host of other negative emotions.  In fact, divorce is so stressful that it places second in the stressful life event categories, preceded by death of a loved one.  I can totally relate to feeling anxiety and depression after a divorce.  After all, it is a pretty big change to go through. According to a study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, those that are divorced have 20% more severe and chronic health problems than those that have never been divorced.  Health and psychological problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, panic attacks, and suicidal thoughts are reported more frequently for divorcees. Divorce can cause sadness and depression in both parties, even if one partner initiated and wanted a divorce.  There are issues that arise that can be difficult and if there are children involved, it makes it even harder.  Time can heal much of the hurt though, and tips can be followed to help get through the rough spots. The following tips may help you or someone you know who is depressed due to a divorce:  Change your lifestyle Make some positive changes in your life.  Maybe you can begin exercising and eating healthier so that you’ll feel better physically and mentally.  Volunteer at a local non-profit and bring joy to others in need.  If you have been a stay-at-home spouse, get out and meet some new people.  Get a new job or join a recreational club where you can meet new friends with the same interests.  Find a hobby...