A Codependent Mind
A Codependent Mind
About A Codependent Mind
An honest first-hand account of living with and then healing from codependency. Brian and Stephanie share their journey of codependency recovery and understanding.Through first-hand experience, extensive research, and countless hours of discussion with Stephanie, his life partner, Brian has been able to understand the web of behaviors that formed his ’codependency’ and to heal from the trauma and the shame that was at the root of it.
In this episode we revisit the idea and definition of codependency that we laid out in the very first episode. In doing this podcast, talking with each other and interacting with listeners, we have learned even more about what makes up this web of codependency and have come to understand it as a spectrum of habitual behaviors that can be mild or severe. Most importantly, we have learned that these habits, if recognized and addressed, can be broken. Thank you for liking or reviewing this podcast. It helps other people find the podcast. Find us on Instagram @codependentmind Email: email@example.com
One-sided caretaking is a hallmark of a codependent relationship. But caretaking is a natural human instinct. How do you know if the caretaking you are doing is healthy and appropriate or if it is a codependent habit? Thank you for liking, reviewing and following. It helps other people find our podcast. Email questions or comments - firstname.lastname@example.org Find us on Instagram @codependentmind.com
In this episode, we answer listener questions. 1. Was there ever a time you felt like the investment in helping Brian break through his trauma was too much for you or not healthy for you? 2. How do you take the power back from the other side of a trigger? How do you stand against those negative feelings? 3. What kind of resource did you use/would you recommend? Mentioned: Esther Perel's podcast "Where Should We Begin" The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk Please rate/follow/review. It helps other people find the podcast. Email questions or comments - email@example.com Find us on Instagram @codependentmind.com
The Serenity Prayer is often said at 12-step meetings like Alcoholic Anonymous and even Codependent Anonymous. But it can challenging to enact, especially if you were caught in codependency's web as Brian was. Now that he has recognized and recovered from a lot of his codependent habits, he has a new understanding of and appreciation for it. Serenity Prayer - God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Email questions or comments - firstname.lastname@example.org Find us on Instagram @codependentmind.com
If shame is not resolved, it can just build up and up until the pressure of trying to suppress it gets to be too much. Then what do you do with it? One way Brian attempted to relieve the pressure from his pent up shame was 'shame-venting' or over-sharing. We discuss how shame-venting works as well as other, unsuccessful ways that Brian attempted to manage his unresolved shame. Email questions or comments - email@example.com Find us on Instagram @codependentmind.com
In this episode we take the opportunity to talk more about Brian's 'family of origin' and how it had more of an effect on the development of his codependent behaviors than either of us realized. Healing from his codependency has allowed him to get a clearer understanding of his family dynamics and has helped him understand his parents better and have cleared expectations of them. Instagram: @codependentmind Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In this episode, we talk about the different kinds of relationships Brian has had in his life - with abusive people, with other 'codependent's, and with 'healthy' people. Stephanie and Brian discuss how they connected even though Brian was still struggling with codependent behaviors, some of the challenges they faced and how they worked through them. Esther Perel podcast episode "The Addict" on Apple Podcasts - https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-addict/id1237931798?i=1000393763538 Esther Perel podcast episode "The Addict" on Spotify - https://open.spotify.com/episode/5zfYUpAknf9zxsUOF6XKOY
People pleasing sounds good. Why wouldn't we want the people in our life to be pleased? In this episode we explore the connect between people pleasing and codependency and discuss the problems people pleasing can create if it becomes a habitual response to others. If you are enjoying this show, please follow, like or review. That will please us ;)
Codependency is not an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders. What does that mean and does it matter? And what is a diagnosis anyway? How can it help or hurt the healing process? Find us on Instagram and Facebook @codependentmind
There is a lot of talk about personal boundaries these days - having them, respecting them, enforcing them. But what exactly are personal boundaries? Brian and Stephanie do a deep dive into the concept of boundaries. Find us on Instagram and Facebook @codependentmind
Even after largely healing from the trauma that started Brian down the path of codependency, he was still left with the behaviors that formed in response to that trauma. So although the source of the codependency had been removed, the symptoms, the habituated behaviors, lingered and kept showing up in his relationships in the form of a default sense of powerlessness. In this episode, we discuss what he is doing to finally kick the powerlessness habit. Transcript 0:00 Hey Hello, this is Stephanie and this is Brian. Welcome to our podcast the making and the remaking of a codependent mind. Brian 0:13 This is season two, episode four. And we've kind of come full circle at this point to back to the topic of codependency itself. Stephanie 0:21 So this episode entitled healing codependency, breaking the powerlessness habit, we are going to discuss the specific behaviors, again, that make up the phenomena of codependency, behavior habits that form in response to trauma, abuse or neglect, and how you are trying to break those codependent behavior habits, Brian 0:47 right for me, those behaviors were formed in response to that five year childhood friendship that we talked about several times throughout this series from when I was about four years old to when I was about 10. And how those behaviors were reinforced, or really kind of amplified by my family dynamic, specifically, my dad's behavior. Stephanie 1:05 And then as you moved into adulthood, you brought those behaviors into pretty much every interpersonal relationship you had, you would assume responsibility for meeting other people's needs to the exclusion of acknowledging your own needs or feelings. And when the other person had a disordered personality, for instance, a narcissist or narcissistic tendencies, it had especially disastrous results. Yeah. Brian 1:30 And although, you know, even when I was trying to relate to so called Healthy People, the behaviors didn't really serve me well, then either. So let's go back Stephanie 1:40 to episode one of season one, that list of behaviors that you read out, in the very first episode that form this phenomena of codependency. Brian 1:54 Yeah, okay. There is the feeling of responsibility for the emotions and actions of others. There's caretaking, people pleasing, struggling to set boundaries with other people. There's low self esteem and self worth, usually kind of a denial of autonomy or even identity. There's a trouble expressing emotions, kind of a fear of emotions really, or again, it's kind of back to this denial of autonomy. Did I have emotional autonomy and notional autonomy in this in this case, yeah. And then there's denying big picture or even situational problems like so there's where the storytelling and the dishonesty and compartmentalization come in. And then finally, enmeshment. In relationships with personality disordered chemically dependence or other codependence are really impulse disordered individuals. So people who trigger all these above behaviors, or at least somehow don't challenge them, when I come in contact with these people. Stephanie 2:52 Hearing that list, again, it strikes me that the previous three episodes of the seasons of the first three episodes of this season really dealt with what you did to address the last four items on that list. So that's again, low self esteem, like denial of identity, trouble expressing emotions, fear of emotions, denying big picture, you know, it's developed, as you said, storytelling and normalization, and then investment in relationships. So these first three episodes, we talked about how you recognize and remove yourself from abusive relationships, how you repaired your emotional system and got over your fear of certain emotions and reconnected to your emotions, and then how you rewrote the stories that were keeping you in denial, and keeping you in meshed really, with disordered people, even when they weren't in your life anymore. Brian 3:51 Yeah, so that kind of lays the groundwork for the healing really, more or less. But then what we're left with here is really the first four items on this list. So let me read these again, that feeling responsible for the emotions and actions of others, caretaking, people pleasing and struggling to set boundaries. These kinds of needs require us a different approach than then what we talked about in these first few episodes, Stephanie 4:15 in that they were unconscious habitual responses, yeah, that you had to other people. And again, when those people were narcissists or other disordered people, they immediately exploited those tendencies. I want to go back to something we talked about in the first episode of the whole series, the word codependency itself as a kind of problematic word, as we said, coming out of addiction literature, so you had people who were seen as chemically dependent or alcohol dependent, and then people who were in relationship with them, and were enablers of them. Were caretaking them they were seen as codependence right kind Brian 4:57 of like, as if these people became dependant on the caretaking itself. And really that's all it came down to in that early description of what codependency was. Stephanie 5:07 Some of the issues are that the word dependency suggests a need. And then addiction we often see the word addiction and use that word is kind of proxy for intense craving, or desire. Right? And neither of those were really applicable in your case. In your case, you were replaying that original abusive relationship. Brian 5:33 Right. Yeah, it isn't really accurate for me to say that I was addicted to these types of relationships, or even that I was somehow attracted to these type of people like, like, I think this is a common thing that people say, in response to codependent people, what it came down to, for me was that, because of my lack of self awareness, anytime a person came along, that basically triggered my trauma responses and or activated my codependent behaviors, I would just lean into those behaviors because I would become overwhelmed by the subconscious responses. So those behaviors would take over. And I would put all my efforts into essentially taking care of those people at whatever cost because, as you said, I was replanting the G relationship Stephanie 6:13 in this habitual, unconscious way. Yeah, we had a whole episode on shame. Because it was so central to keeping you stuck, replaying that relationship, and it is one of the most painful emotions. And I guess powerlessness is not technically an emotion. But feeling powerless is super painful, in that it creates a whole cluster of these painful emotions. Yeah, you know, fear possibly being the primary one. It's really terrifying to feel powerless, right. But it can also generate shame and despair, all of these debilitating emotions. And it's potentially at the root of what makes an unpleasant or awful event into a traumatic event. That feeling of powerlessness in the face of what had happened. Yeah, exactly. Brian 7:05 I definitely felt powerless in that childhood friendship. And then the echoes of that powerlessness kind of just took over from there. And it just infected everything from there forward. Stephanie 7:16 And these behaviors, the caretaking, the people pleasing, were this effort to get out of this terrifying powerlessness state. Yeah. So habits, even benign ones are hard to break. Yeah, right. But you're faced with breaking these behavior habits, that were so critical in making yourself feel safe as this young child in this perilous situation. So how do you stop doing these behaviors? When, for so long? They were a source of a sense of safety for yourself, Brian 7:57 seemingly anyway. Well, one of the big things that we've mentioned several times throughout this series is this idea of personal agency. Stephanie 8:07 Yes. So being tied to personal power. These two concepts go very closely together. If you have a sense of agency, you have a sense of personal power, you have a sense that you can enact changes in the world. Yeah, so you desire, Brian 8:22 right, it really goes hand in hand with regaining power. So this feeling pervasive feeling of powerlessness that I felt all those years becoming an agent, as we call it, is regaining that power. So the idea of becoming an agent involves several things, it isn't just a matter of, oh, suddenly, I feel powerful, you know, it requires first self awareness. Like, who am I? Stephanie 8:48 There needs to be an agent there. Yeah, you need to? Yeah, you need to be able Brian 8:51 to identify what the agent is, what are my values? What are my core values that really, I had been denying myself for so long, just kind of ignoring them? You know, because I felt like I had no power to really enact or work towards my values. And then what types of relationships do I want? What What kind of people do I want to be involved with, you know, not just romantically, but just in general, like, Who do I want to associate with? And then following that, what are my emotions telling me then? So part of what we talked about in one of the first three episodes here is being able to read the signals that my emotions are giving me, but I need to know who I am to know what those signals are otherwise, like, I don't, if I feel angry, great, I'm identifying that I feel angry. But what am I angry at? Why am I angry? I need to know what it is that I'm supposed to be acting on here. So one Stephanie 9:37 of the things you have done to break this powerlessness habit is to think about who you are and what you want, from your life, what you want from relationships, and to articulate that consciously and repeatedly to yourself and to the people in your life. Brian 9:53 Yeah, and just kind of keep that in mind. Like sort of not not like I have to keep telling myself like reading it every morning or something but just kind of just leaving it feeling it, although for a while Stephanie 10:02 you had your kind of your core values posted above your desk just to kind of be a reminder that you were a person that wanted to act have both have values and act on values as an agent in the world, Brian 10:15 right? Because that's that is reprogramming my habit of not having them or ignoring them. So yeah, kind of getting used to having it in the back of my mind at all times. Stephanie 10:27 But even with that, there are these habitual behaviors that you bring into relationships, including our relationship, again, coming from this posture of powerlessness. Yeah, that was imposed upon you and your child, but then continued forward in all of your relationships. So almost really, in every relationship, professional, personal, this social, yeah, you're default posture would be the other person is more powerful than I am. Yeah, Brian 11:00 the more work we did on all of this, the more painfully obvious that became, with so many different things. Stephanie 11:07 So let's talk about one way in which that powerlessness is expressed in your relationships. And that's this curious phenomenon we identified as matching the need to match, Brian 11:18 right, what we're talking about with matching here is, is not like, oh, I want to wear the similar outfit or something like that. It's, it's kind of, I mean, it can, it can mean that, but really, it's like matching to the core, like, I feel this kind of anxiety, if I don't match someone's emotions, even, you know, so somebody could be expressing anger or something, and then like, I just get sucked into it in a way. And immediately, that becomes the most important thing. So I'm matching it, if someone's sad, I've matched their sadness, if someone's happy, I matched their happiness, even if I don't understand why they're happy. Stephanie 11:52 And I think this is a very human trait, we're, you know, we're extremely social animals. And all of us get a little uncomfortable if we don't match a group of people. So you think about see, if you walk into a room, and everyone's dressed in tuxedos and ball gowns, and you have ratty t shirt and shorts on, you're going to feel uncomfortable, because you don't match and you're not sure what's going on. So I mean, there's, you know, there's quite a bit of actually psychological research that, that shows the extent that people will go to kind of match a group, but with you, it kind of went to the pathological Yeah, so that you can get anxious, say, if you don't like a movie, that the person you with likes, yeah. Or someone's wearing long pants, and you were in shorts. So it's just a, it's been a Brian 12:47 musical tastes, you know, I'll match that, you know, I have plenty of my own autonomy and what I like, but when it comes to trying to match up with someone else, like, I'll stop listening to certain things permanently, right to match the other person Stephanie 13:00 you have, right? Brian 13:01 I have. Yeah. Stephanie 13:02 Like you said, you had this level of anxieties, this habitual anxious response, yeah, to a seemingly disconnect between any person that you're talking to or involved with. Brian 13:14 And in this kind of it, one thing that I think about here is, is with a lot of these behaviors, like we've talked about several times, is there's there's usually a healthy version of it. And I would say a healthy version of this matching would be empathy. You know. So, feeling and relating to some absolutely, yeah, you know, someone's sad, you may feel sad for that person or something, Stephanie 13:34 right. Empathy is so critical to relationships and social situations, but you weren't, in fact, experiencing empathy. It was more about just trying to get close to whoever was in power. Brian 13:45 Yeah, line myself up the person to try to keep myself safe, right. Stephanie 13:49 And there's kind of a somewhat funny way that this has shown up in our relationship where I have a tendency to start sentences and then pause in the middle of them. We've spared the listeners of this podcast that experience by taking out some of those pauses. But so I'll do that. And you rush in and finish my sentence. Brian 14:12 Right. And so and so what's funny about it is it's not necessarily the fact that I'm finishing sentences. I mean, that's, I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to keep conversation going, you know, but what we found to be problematic is the way I finish sentences that the context of it, like the matching the Finishing Sentences, thing is definitely anxiety and trauma base. It says if I'm anticipating disagreement or something like so I'm kind of trying to preemptively line myself up. So it's a version of the matching thing. So you'll be starting to say something and I think I know where you're going with what you're saying. I might not agree with it, but I'm going to try to line myself up with it anyway, like, or I can tell that maybe I think you're going to disagree with something that I'm about to say or something so I would step in and finish your sentences completely wrong. That's not actually what you were gonna say at all. But I'm just trying to, like, set myself up to be in line with you, right, essentially, with with these Finishing Sentences. Stephanie 15:13 So it's both the kind of volume you have done it, but sometimes it seemed a little excessive. But then also, as you say, it became most obvious when maybe we're having a disagreement about where to go for lunch. And I start to express an agreement with your point of view, yes. Why don't we just go to lunch where you want to? And I'll start that sentence, why don't we just and you'll finish it, go to lunch, where you want to Brian 15:41 right or stay home, or just like the opposite of what I was thinking basically, here, Stephanie 15:46 as you said, trying to kind of preemptively line yourself up with me. So the way that you have tried to break that habit is to do the things that people do break habits in that notice when it's happening. Brian 15:58 Yeah. So notice when it's happening, not just necessarily, I'm not necessarily trying to completely stop Finishing Sentences. But I want to see what the context is. I want to I want to I need to check myself on on what is my motivation for finishing the sentence? Yeah. And you could start finishing. Yeah, I mean, ultimately, that would be I'll get there. Stephanie 16:17 Yeah, I'll finish my attendance. Eventually, most of the time. Brian 16:21 pauses in a room doesn't have to cause anxiety. Yeah, Stephanie 16:24 right. So noticing when it happens, and I pointed out too. Sure, that's fun for you. And then thinking about, is it coming from anxiety? Is it coming? Because you actually, we do match in that case? And it's just an authentic expression of what you want? Brian 16:38 Yeah, it's really it's kind of a smaller scale trauma response, really, I think, because I was so used to being controlled, and my point of view or my once and desires are being ignored or even being abused for those ones Stephanie 16:54 ridiculed and shamed. Brian 16:56 Yeah, so I'm just kind of habitually assuming that you are going to disagree with me or that you're going to somehow abuse me from my point of view. Stephanie 17:03 And you've also tried to practice not matching, right? So again, if we go out, and I'm a little dressed up, but you hadn't planned on dressing up, you decide just to wear what you plan, you know, just to get a t shirt on, right? And, again, get more comfortable with that, with that experience. So similarly, there's been this people pleasing habit, show the need to be liked, or at least not to be disliked. Yeah. Brian 17:30 Again, habitual response to an early experience with someone that demanded obedience. Stephanie 17:37 And you needed to please him in order to keep yourself safe. Brian 17:40 Yeah. And then from there forward, assume that I had to do that with everyone more or less Yeah, to so that they wouldn't dislike me or abuse me or whatever I was feeling was going to happen. Stephanie 17:49 People pleasing for you was kind of compliance. That's how was expected can really be expressed in a variety of different ways. Though, again, kind of like matching, we all have an impulse to please the people with that we're with Yeah, right. We're around like, in fact, I remember reading about one study that was done with people who maintain they did not care what other people thought of them. Oh, right. Like they had, you know, no, I don't care. I'm, I'm happy with myself, I don't care at all. They put each of these people in a room and kind of hook them up to devices that that measured their physiological response. And so their heart rate and they're sweating. And then they had someone looking at the people and talking about them in a negative way. Oh, my, that guy's wearing a stupid shirt. And like, she looks like an idiot and stuff like that. And, and this was a stranger. And even the people who were adamant that they did not care what other people thought their physiological response showed otherwise, yeah. So their heart weighed, we increase, their sweat glands would open up, they would become kind of anxious or angry. Yeah, even when rationally, they were committed to the idea that what other people thought of them didn't matter. So we're wired to want to please other people. Brian 19:07 Yeah. Which makes sense. Going back to evolution, again, being a species that cooperates at the core Stephanie 19:14 and need each other to survive. But again, that can be expressed in so many different ways. You're really going to fall back on whatever your strengths are. So you see a lot of people who are people pleasing in a more overt way than you so you know, compliments, you know, excessive compliments and yeah, and charm Brian 19:34 people are using their strengths is what is what right seems to push down to So for some people, people are good at complimenting other people and showing admiration and then that kind of becomes their go to people pleasing style. And for me, it seemed to be making people feel comfortable, and there's nothing wrong with that. There's healthy versions of that. It's good to make people feel comfortable when they're made. They may be feeling anxious or for whatever reason, but I found since that was my strength. That's what that's what I use that was my go to people pleasing activity was, was compliance more or less, you know, extreme compliance where, no matter how awful someone may be, right, I'm gonna somehow make them feel as though they're okay. Stephanie 20:15 Right. And the matching can be a part of that, right? You match their styles. And so this was a habit again that you did in most of your relationships. Brian 20:23 And part of that is a struggle to say no, it's often how I got stuck in these awful friendships and relationships, too. I felt member feeling at the start of some of those friendships like, I don't know about this, like, this person is not great. But yeah, they're chasing me. They want to be friends Stephanie 20:43 with your first romantic relationships we talked about, for instance, you know, I had you had from the beginning, some doubts about Brian 20:50 Yeah, red flags, being abuse being a big one. Stephanie 20:54 So getting comfortable with people being displeased with you has been hard. Brian 21:07 So it's not necessarily just confronting people, it's even allowing myself to have thoughts about things that someone else may disagree with. So you know, so here comes the pre emptive, lining myself up with people. So like finishing sentences and matching, it doesn't even have to be a specific interaction, it just kind of like I'm just going to preemptively just always try to line myself up. So in order to break this habit, I've had to do several things that involve kind of checking myself on a regular basis. When I am interacting with someone, I have to kind of ask myself, Who is this other person? How do I feel about them? Do I agree with them? Is this a person worth pleasing? Yeah, is this person even worth pleasing? Exactly? And how do my values come into play here? Stephanie 21:52 Right, so if they are worth pleasing, so you want to eliminate off the top kind of all the people that you shouldn't be working to please - narcissists, idiots. And then, as you say, think about your own values, even if the person is worth pleasing. Are you are you aligned in this in an authentic way with this person? Brian 22:13 And like so many of these healing steps, there's a lot of anxiety involved in that because it's, it's, I get a lot of fear, when I think about displeasing someone no matter who it is. So having this kind of roadmap of being able to pause and think about these things, diminishes that a little bit. I'm not just giving in to this fear, and just automatically habitually lining myself up with someone and then feeling shame immediately afterwards, you know, Stephanie 22:37 and the unfortunate thing is, that type of behavior does please, people like narcissists, but it doesn't please healthy people in your life long term. It's not a route to intimacy. So what I want from you, is not for you always to agree with me for you always to be aligned with me, for you to make sure that I'm never disappointed or displeased. What I want is to know you, your authentic person and have an authentic connection. So if I start to feel like you're just telling me what I want to hear, because you're afraid that I might be displeased or disappointed, well, I can be disappointed. I mean, I can I can handle that. That's not a problem. I don't want I don't want is I don't want to be lied to. Brian 23:21 Yeah, I mean, what we want real actual dialogue, real honest, intimate dialogue. I mean, otherwise, what's the point, Stephanie 23:28 but this is a habit. So yeah, again, it's not just a matter of realizing that you do it. You've had to keep practicing over and over again, getting comfortable. With disappointing or just pleasing people. In professional relationships as well. Brian 23:44 Yeah, work has actually been a really good practice for that. Because I've found that was kind of really my entry level, I think, tests for a lot of these things, because I don't have as high stakes with those relationships. You know, I used to feel that way. You know, like, Oh, my God, my whole job is on the line here so I can't I can't make anyone displeased at my work, you know, so, but yeah, it's it's been a good training ground and then you know, I've kind of taken it steps further with like, just all my relationships, including my family and just being more real Stephanie 24:19 and more comfortable with other people having reactions that that might be difficult for them. So this is very aligned with another habit that you're working on breaking and that is the difficulty setting boundaries. Brian 24:34 The subject was one I really had to read a lot about because it's it's a it's a buzzword, kind of like you see it everywhere boundaries, boundaries, Stephanie 24:41 and we're gonna probably have a whole episode on boundaries. Next in the third season. Brian 24:45 Yeah. But really what it comes down to is what do I find acceptable or unacceptable behavior in my interaction towards me. So having actual expectations of people and sticking to those expectations. If someone does something that I know is just No, that's, I don't agree with that, I don't like that. I need to know how to react to that. I need to feel as though I have enough power to react the way I want to react Stephanie 25:13 to enforce the boundary. So this, there's no point of having imaginary boundaries. There needs to be some sense of Brian 25:22 yeah, if you're never going to enforce me never gonna enforce something. Right. Stephanie 25:25 So I am remembering actually, we had a conversation kind of early in our relationship when I was hearing a lot about how you were treated by J and how you're treated by our were I? Especially J, because you're still maintaining that relationship was fine. Yeah. Right. So you know, I kind of asked that we both kind of write down or express what our expectations were in relationships in terms of Yeah, we were saying how, how, how do you expect your partner to treat you? And and most of what you stand in terms of what you expected a party to treat with? treat you? Was not how Jay treated you. So I was like, This sounds like an aspirational. It's like talking about what's the like, what's your walkout? What would have made you walk out of that relationship? And you couldn't express that because you didn't know how to stand on your boundary and say, Here no further. Drawing a line. And if you cross this line, I'm out. Brian 26:23 That was a very early conversation, and I don't remember how it ended, but I was nowhere near where we are now. So I'm sure it would just like well, you know, I mean, I try to get those things. Stephanie 26:35 Yeah, it was. Brian 26:36 You know, but I didn't even do that. Really. I mean, I just I had no boundaries. I mean, that that's, that's what it came down to with codependent person with a narcissist. That's often the case is there's I may think I have boundaries, but I'm never going to enforce them. Stephanie 26:54 Yeah, so they're meaningless. And this is another case where work has been a helpful practice ground for that. Brian 27:02 Yeah, actually, one of the one of the earliest times I can remember I had there was this coworker that I didn't have a good relationship with. I never have and a lot of people don't just her style of interacting with people is very kind of aggressive and abusive. Yeah, yeah. people yelling, throwing people under the bus just not all around not good. And conversations with her on the phone. Every time she called me it was to somehow blame me for something or just like, try to find blame or place blame or you know, and it was never constructive. And I finally got to a point where I told her like that, I mean, I had a very uncomfortable conversation, where I more or less said, you know, I'm not going to have these phone calls with you anymore. So we're going to deal with things on email, or we're not going to deal with them at all. I mean, that's just, that's the way I'm going to, I'm going to handle this from here forward. Stephanie 27:51 And that was that was pretty big for you, because she would almost call them once on a daily basis. Yeah, I think because you were the few people who took her call. Yeah, I know. I think so. And get anxious to see her name. Brian 28:01 And she started texting after that. Stephanie 28:05 But it was, it was like, no, you're not allowed to talk, you can't treat me appropriately on the phone, you're not allowed to talk to me on the phone. Brian 28:13 I'm cutting you off on the phone. I mean, it sounds it may sound bizarre, because you know, it's work, you should be able to talk to your co workers. Actually, it doesn't sound bizarre, but I mean, so it made me very uncomfortable, because I was flooding myself with excuses and reasons why I shouldn't do this. Stephanie 28:29 This kind of anxiety about what the consequences might be, and this fear of power that she might have over you to to retaliate in some way. When really the only thing I have well, she tried to fax but didn't respond to this is nothing happened she stopped calling you stopped having to take this call. Brian 28:45 And in fact, I hoped for now we were dealing with things by email, we have records of it, it's not accusatory, or if it is accusatory there's other people on copy. Stephanie 28:55 So with all these things, the only way to break the habits is to break the habit, is to replace the habit with positive behavior. Brian 29:03 So it's constantly checking myself, that's really what this episode comes down to, is, if I if I'm feeling off about something, check, pause, look, again, it's like the emotion thing, where where are these feelings coming from? Stephanie 29:18 And the feelings usually are anxiety and fear. Yeah, you know, these feelings that come out of the sense of powerlessness. Brian 29:24 Yeah, so there's one more piece that is something that we have been very aware of on a daily basis these days. And, and it's language, I found language to be a lot more powerful than I initially thought it was. It really kind of subconsciously directs my behaviors. I think in a lot of cases. It's not just wordplay Stephanie 29:45 if not directing your behavior, certainly reinforcing it, right? Brian 29:49 So there's so many different ways I found that my language has kind of kept me stuck in codependent behaviors. Stephanie 29:57 We've identified a few examples you Yeah, how the center powerful powerlessness comes out in some language behaviors, Brian 30:05 it just embeds itself in our conversations and it comes out very regularly unless both of us kind of stay on top of it and monitor it. And, but one of them a big one being the overuse of the word, WWE. So I have a tendency to use the word weak in place of when I should otherwise be using I in a lot of cases, or even you and I, or both of us, or each of us, or something like that, right? Where it's just we liked that movie, or something, Stephanie 30:36 you know, exactly. So using we, if it's a shared activity, you know, you're reporting we went to the mall, right? Because we went to the mall together. But you use it, as you said, to express thoughts and feelings even Yeah, and we like or what we thought of something. Yeah. And Brian 30:53 sometimes it could be true that both of us like to something right, but it's not a good habit to say, or we like to Stephanie 31:00 that. Just, again, to the extent that you did it, Brian 31:03 it went along with what we were saying earlier about the matching really, because it's kind of I was unconsciously coupling myself with someone to relieve the pressure of being an individual and having autonomy, right? So if I say, Should we do this, you know, it's like, okay, I want you to tell me what we should do, rather than I kind of want to do this. Would you like to do that too? Or what would you what do you want to do? Stephanie 31:27 And that's connected to another one that we've noticed where you ask questions. Yeah, yeah. Rather than make assertions. The example you just gave where you could say, I'd like to go out for lunch. Would you like to eat for lunch? You'll start with, not the assertion of what you want, you'll start with Should we go out? It's a good idea. Brian 31:50 It's kind of a double two in one, right? So it's, I'm asking you, I have an idea. But rather than presenting it as idea, I want you to give the idea by asking you, but then also I'm throwing in we should we go out to lunch, in a very passive and very much not attached to the results to I, I'm kind of preemptively and sometimes I'll even throw in something at the end. I've heard a lot of people do this. Should we go to lunch or not? Right? Let's throw in there like, oh, just so you know, I'm okay. If you say no, here, like, I'm going to cover the whole the whole spectrum. I'm not just going to say I want to go to lunch. What about you? Because you may say no. And I Oh, no. Oh, no. I have to what happened? We just disagreed on something when I go from here, you know. Stephanie 32:40 So it does seem very connected to well, the whole thing matching people pleasing that that, as you say, feeling uncomfortable standing separately as a separate individual. Yeah. There's also the language that everyone can fall into this language of fatalism or defeatism Yeah, yeah, again, the world's out to get me or Yeah. And like all of this, it's a question of degree, we all do this. But again, you are trying to break that habit as well and try not to use those phrases. For instance, you would say like, who knows a lot right now. Yeah. Everything's unknowable. Brian 33:21 But also, if we go back a callback to the to the episode, previous episode, and stories, these stories that I had about myself, like, I am uninteresting, I am unattractive, kind of like carrying this these definitive defeatist terms for myself, it could be like, Oh, I am not good at that. So I'm not even gonna try, right? Because, or even, like we've mentioned before, also, I am an alcoholic or something like that, where it's just like you're, you're labeling yourself in kind of this permanent way. And then you're kind of setting yourself up to be that I am uninteresting. Therefore, I'm going to keep that in mind every time I come in contact with people and I'm just assuming that they have no interest in what I'm saying. Stephanie 34:03 So I'm going to actually become an so I'm gonna be you're gonna manifest that Yeah, right. Brian 34:08 I mean, it's it's it is self fulfilling prophecy, that language could lead to self fulfilling prophecies. Stephanie 34:13 We should mention to one linguistic habit that you yourself don't really do. But I think a lot of people who are on the codependent spectrum or have you know, have many of these codependent behaviors do and that is apologizing. Yeah, right. So that's very similar to these other habits that you have like preemptively aligning yourself with someone else preemptively taking responsibility for the situation and for managing the situation and managing their emotions around that situation even before you even know if an apology is warranted. Right. Brian 34:50 And a lot of times it isn't, you know, it's that yeah, this is a good one to mention here even though it for whatever reason isn't one that I've used as a restraint is a very common thing. Stephanie 35:02 No, I have, you know, a number of friends and even family who seemed to be compulsive apologize. Well, apparently the whole country of Canada is very apologetic. So maybe they're all on the codependency spectrum. Brian 35:14 I mean, I really it's interesting that I don't use that. I mean, because I've used so many other things, but maybe just because I am just quicker at lining myself, preemptively before I need to get to an apology. Yeah, I'm already on the same page, I've already made myself on the same page. Stephanie 35:32 So you're good at compliance. Yeah, we should clarify something here about breaking the powerlessness habit, we're not suggesting that the opposite is true, that you were somebody is all powerful in every situation, Brian 35:47 right, really, in every situation is gonna be a mix, kind of having some power and control and also being subjected to forces that are beyond my control. So like, in the work example, I gave, where I told my coworker that I wasn't going to take her calls anymore. She had some power over me in that she could have called my boss and complained and possibly even got me fired. But I had power as well. One, I'm a white male, that gives me some power in this country that many people don't have. And I've been with this company for many years, and I'm considered a valuable worker. And I work in a field where I can pretty easily get another comparable job. Stephanie 36:27 So when we're talking about breaking the powerlessness habit, that's the kind of calculation that we're encouraging to not just default in every situation, especially interpersonal ones, to a posture of powerlessness, not just assume that you have no power to make changes, and to recognize the fear and anxiety that comes up in those types of situations is not a true signal. It's a trauma response. You were being thrown back to a time when you were more powerless. Brian 37:01 This whole thing actually reminds me of the Serenity Prayer. Remember that they use it in AAA, it says, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. The funny thing for me is I always struggled with that saying, mostly because I never got the Wisdom part. I mean, I like how was I supposed to know the difference between something I can control or not control? Because really, what it came down to is, I didn't feel as though I had the power to change anything, even if I could release anything at all. Yeah, so I just defaulted to the first one. I just accepted everything, Stephanie 37:37 right, like we explored in the previous episode, you wrote stories to help you do that. Either. It was a story to make the situation appear out of your control. Yeah, even if you did have some power in it, so that you could justify accepting that treatment. Yeah, write yourself exactly. Or it was a story about the situation, that the situation or the treatment of you wasn't actually that bad. Brian 38:03 Yeah, I saw the whole world through a lens of powerlessness. Basically, codependency this collection of mental, emotional, linguistic behavioral habits that had helped me to survive my childhood abuse ended up distorting every relationship in my life, most importantly, my relationship to myself. The work that I've done, and the work that I will continue to do is really about developing that wisdom, this, this wisdom to know the difference, really, the wisdom to see things as they really are. It takes a level of self awareness that I just didn't have, or at least I was actively denying myself, because knowledge about certain things just made me feel unsafe. But I've come to find that ignorance is definitely not bliss. Okay. Stephanie 38:49 And along with that self awareness has come this big picture clarity that you had been avoiding all those years to including the types of relationships that you want to have in your life. Brian 39:01 Yeah, so in our next episode, we'd like to kind of flip the script a little bit and explore what it can be like for the other people, those who are in relationships with people with codependent behaviors. Stephanie 39:13 So I will be sharing my experiences about loving a codependent mind. And we hope you can join us for that episode. You can find us on Facebook or Instagram by searching codependent mind. And we encourage you to leave a rating or comment on whatever platform you listen to
Stories are powerful tools to help us understand ourselves and our lives. Unfortunately for Brian, many of the stories he adopted or told did just the opposite - served to further cloud and obfuscate what was happening in his internal and external life. In this episode we discuss how he uncovered the true stories of who he was and what had happened to him.
In this episode we discuss the steps that Brian took to repair the damage done to his emotional system by abuse and trauma. From capacity building through understanding and now working on mastery, Brian has been able to tame the chaos that has dominated his inner emotional life and learn to trust himself and his emotions.
This season explores how Brian worked to 're-make' his codependent mind. In this episode we discuss the challenges that Brian faced in getting started on that process and what was needed for him to begin to heal. Find us on Instagram @codependentmind to ask questions or contribute your own stories.
The process of learning what emotions are and how manage them was interrupted for Brian at a very early age by abuse and trauma. Because of that, he never really learned how to identify his emotions or what to do with them. This amounted to emotional immaturity and made it difficult for him to form healthy, intimate relationships and left him vulnerable to further abuse and trauma. Find us on Instagram @codependentmind to ask questions or share your story.
Shame evolved to give us information about the world. But trauma induced shame can be overwhelming and crippling, even life-threatening. Understanding the role shame played in his life and fueled his codependent behaviors, was key to Brian's healing process. Find us on Instagram @codependentmind to ask questions or share your story.
Narcissists are an especially dangerous and toxic pairing for people with codependent behaviors, due to the way each person’s maladaptive behaviors work together. In this episode we discuss the general characteristics of narcissism and then detail Brian's two, back-to-back, romantic relationships with abusive narcissists. Find us on Instagram @codependentmind to ask questions or share your story.
People with codependent behaviors often get repeatedly ensnared in abusive relationships. They get asked the question and may even ask themselves - why did you stay? The relationship dynamic of trauma bonding may be a big part of the answer. It was for Brian. Find us on Instagram @codependentmind to ask questions or share your story.
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