Codependent No More
Hey there, warriors! I have a special episode for you as part of our codependency series called “Get Your Power Back.”
We are diving deep into the topic of codependency and how it can affect our relationships and overall well-being. Trust me, I’ve been there myself. I used to feel controlled by my emotions, constantly giving my power away to others, whether it was my sons, my husband, or even strangers.
And in this episode, I’m going to share with you the steps I took to get to this place of empowerment.
Are you ready, warriors? Let’s go!
First step: let’s call this, be where your feet are.
This a call to remain present. In the journey of understanding codependency, it’s crucial not to dwell excessively on past actions or decisions. We all have moments of reflection, but it’s essential to move forward.
Cultivate self-compassion, understand codependency, and stay anchored in the present. Always remember, be where your feet are.
Second step: get good at feeling.
It’s important to switch our focus from being concerned about how others feel to understanding our own emotions. This isn’t about being selfish; on the contrary, it can enhance our relationships. When we show codependent behaviors in relationships, it often results in our partner’s feeling small. Or as if we don’t trust them to make the right decisions.
Highlights of this episode:
- Understanding codependency
- The balance between over-functioning and under-functioning in relationships
- Consequences of codependency
- Desire for empowerment and freedom in relationships
- Importance of being present and not dwelling on the past
- Strategies for overcoming codependency
In order to break codependent patterns, we get to get good at feeling. We get to build our emotional intelligence. I have many podcast episodes on this here and trainings in the Love Your Life School under courses and emotional intelligence.
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Please be aware that this is not a verbatim transcription; it has been revised for better clarity
Dear warriors, welcome to the show. It is me Susie Pettit, your certified life and relationship coach, how are you today? I am awesome. If you are listening live, check out my Instagram stories because I am in San Diego visiting with two of my sons, my eldest son Ryan, the one whose voice is in the intro, and my youngest son Jay. I am in my happy place.
And that is what prompts me to make this special episode for you because I really do feel light and happy in my relationships now, with my son’s, with my partner, with my parents, with myself. And yet I say now because it was not always this way, I used to not feel empowered in my relationship. In fact, I used to give my power away all the time.
I would give it away to my sons, my teenage sons in particular when they were teenagers. That was super fun. My husband, even strangers, okay? I would give the power of how I felt over to someone you know that I didn’t even really know. I felt so out of control, because my moods and emotions were literally dependent on other people’s moods and emotions. If that isn’t the definition for disempowerment, I don’t know what is. Okay, me feeling how I’m feeling because of someone else.
The definition of co-dependency
That’s actually a definition of codependency, which is why this episode is part of the codependency series. And maybe I just want to, I’m assuming you can relate to this in some way because what I mean, when I’m saying I felt so out of control, because my moods and emotions were dependent on someone else’s moods and emotions, this is what would happen to me, okay.
If my son was upset, I would feel upset. If my husband was stressed, I would feel stressed. Okay, if some stranger asked me to do something for some school, you know, committee, and I said no, and they felt disappointed, I would feel something because of their disappointment. It felt so uncomfortable to me, it’s like my emotional regulator was outside of my body. And when this happens, what we usually do is we try to control a lot of things like, I would try to control what was happening for them, so I could feel better.
And as I said, this is the definition of codependency, being over involved in someone else’s feeling, state or life experience. It is putting our emotions in someone else’s hands, a dependency on someone else, to manage their feelings, and experiences, so we can manage ours. Okay, like we want them to manage their feelings, so they don’t feel stressed or anxious, so then we don’t feel stressed and anxious, okay. Which, which does not feel good warriors, okay? And undoubtedly leads us into this place where we are trying to control the behavior of others.
Why it is an anti-recipe for healthy relationships
Here’s the thing though, it doesn’t work. Consider it the anti-recipe for healthy thriving relationships, and the anti-recipe to raise confident, self-reliant kids. If you want to be in a lot of relationships, where you are doing all the thinking and feeling for the other human in your life, and that other person feels disempowered, or like a user loser, keep doing this, because that’s what codependent patterns create.
Over functioner, the doer or the fixer
Like, I’m doing all the thinking for them and the other person is under functioner. Okay, sometimes they like, intentionally let the over functioner do it. And other times it’s been programmed into them because they’re kids and in this dynamic they become to have a lack of belief in themselves.
Or maybe they’re just too darn scared to speak up and tell you to back off.
Not the dynamic for healthy relationships, as I said, okay?
So when we’re so darn nervous about other people being nervous, we are really setting ourselves up for this dynamic where we’re raising less competent kids because we’re trying to do all the thinking and feeling for them or where in relationships, where a partner constantly can feel belittled. Like we know what’s best. That’s this dynamic of this over functioner, under functioner.
How to feel empowered?
For today, I’m going to assume since you’re a listener of the show, and you clicked on this episode, you would like something different. You are, you want to feel more empowered, you’re not in this, like, let me manipulate other people to get them, so I feel better. No, you want to feel more free, to set the other people in your life to be responsible for their lives, to empower them to be them.
Let them have the human experience of having the wide range of human experiences and that is so possible for you. I know that because as I said, I am now in San Diego with two of my sons and my husband, and I feel light and empowered. Okay, I did not use to feel this way.
Empower people around you
And yet, how did I get from there, from how I used to feel very amassed, very responsible for how other people felt, very nervous about other people having feelings very anxious. Okay, it won’t happen overnight, but I promise it is closer than you think, okay. What is so amazing is when we start to shift things, little shifts make big differences and with the right tools and mindset, change can happen quite quickly. This is what I do.
This is what coaches do, simplify things to help you get results faster, okay. If you want even faster progress, bring specific examples of where you’re acting co-dependently and where you might be sort of doing some of this acting to one of the group coaching, coaching sessions in the Love Your Life School or to your personal coach. That’s gonna get you that faster action. Okay, so for today, let’s get this lighter life party started. Want to feel lighter, more free in our relationships, let’s go.
The first step – ‘Be Where Your Feet Are’
The first step, I’m going to call it. ‘Be Where your Feet Are, meaning let’s not spend more than 30 seconds thinking or beating ourselves up for our past.
Okay, for thinking of how we’ve been co-dependent or how we’ve over functioned, or how we’ve been under, whatever. Codependency is a learned behavior. You don’t come out as a little baby co-dependent, okay. We learned it from our parents, from our teachers, from our society, and certain communities are still reinforcing it, okay. You did not get into your codependent way of acting alone and so spending time beating yourself up for it, is a complete waste of your warrior energy. No matter the age of your kids, or how long you’ve been over functioning in any of your relationship, today is a great day to change.
The past happened.
One thing I know about my listeners is I am quite sure you never said I want to step in and take over other people’s lives so that they feel disempowered, okay. I want to step in, and like tell them what they thought, I want to disempower other people and stress myself out. That’s, that’s just like, none of those thoughts went through your head, I know it. It comes from unconscious programming.
And so today, let’s not spend much if any, time in the thought drama of like, I wish I had known this sooner. Or why did I ruin my kids confidence? No, you’re not that like omni-important. We influence people and we do that and if we were doing that, it’s because we didn’t know any better, that’s thinking of the past.
We can’t change the past. ‘Be Where Your Feet Are’, I want you to be in the present, listening to this podcast learning in a compassionate open mind, looking towards the future. Okay, saying something like I did the best I could in the past. I had conditioning and protective ways of acting. Maya Angelou says, ‘Now that we know better we do better’. So right here first step, self compassion with ourselves, ‘Be Where Your Feet Are’.
The second step – Get good at feeling
And the second step is we’re going to get good at feeling.
Yes, instead of focusing so much on how other people feel and what their feeling states are. we get to start focusing on what we feel. And no this does not make you selfish. Instead of focusing on how other people feel, you focus on what you’re feeling does not make you selfish. In fact, it improves your relationships. When we are acting co-dependently in relationships, the people who are in relationship with us, report feeling belittled, and like we don’t trust them to do the right thing. It’s just like fear of their feeling, that is not a great dynamic for marriage or for the kids, okay.
Overprotective parenting style
And in fact for kids, what research is showing us, when we parent in this helicopter way, we raise kids who lack belief in themselves, okay, who lack belief in their ability to feel. They often feel more anxious, okay. By us not letting them feel their anxiety and us taking over, they feel more anxious.
Discuss a subject we’d rather avoid
Talk about a dynamic we don’t want. We see our kids feeling anxious. So we get anxious, which we try to fix their anxiety, which ultimately makes them feel more anxious because then they internalize the message that we don’t think they can handle whatever it is we’re anxious about. Whoa! Okay, like, if you need to rewind that, I get it. But ultimately, it is just twisted.
So we see our kids feel anxious, we get anxious about being anxious, we’re trying to fix it, and then they feel more anxious, and less confident. Just trust me here, step two out of this, instead of getting into that complicated mind shift. Step Two out of this is us getting good at feeling our feelings, bringing the focus back to us. I don’t care if your child is two years old, 22 or 42, okay. You paying attention to how they’re feeling before you clean up your own feelings is unhelpful.
What are you feeling when your child is nervous? How would you label that?
Most of us who are codependent never had a safe place to feel feelings. So it feels very scary. Most of us were not taught how to feel our feelings. And instead, we were sort of on this high alert, like taking the emotional temperature of the room. I felt like I was constantly on alert like, ‘Is dad mad, is mom upset?’ Maybe you can relate. Like we were very aware of what others were feeling. And since we weren’t taught how to feel feelings to sort of neutralize feelings, that was very scary for us. And so we were taught really to shove down what we were feeling to keep the emotional temperature of the room calm. Maybe that wasn’t explicitly said to us or maybe it was, okay.
Sometimes I know many of you have shared, you were given the message like, ‘Dad is stressed with work today, so make sure you don’t bring up your low bio grade’. Or don’t make mom mad because when she’s mad, she yells and I don’t like it when mom yells like, it’s your fault that your mother yells. This is where we want to have some compassion for ourselves. We were not modeled on this and if the adults in our lives when we were kids, we’re not taking responsibility for their emotions, we’re not regulating their emotions. How could we as kids have known what to do? This isn’t about shaming our parents. Okay, this is about us.
And our second step, learning now wherever we are, in our chronological age to get good at feeling, wherever we are on earth school, let’s learn emotional intelligence. Okay, how do we feel? Have you listened to one of those podcast episodes, here’s how we feel it’s three steps. We name it, we describe it and we feel it. In order to break codependent patterns, in order to recover from codependency and amassment, this feeling like we’re responsible for how other people feel, we get to get good at feeling.
We get to build our emotional intelligence. I have many podcast episodes on this and I encourage you to listen, really listen to any of them. They’re so good. I’ll put them in the show notes at smbwell.com/271. And even better, the training I have in the Love Your Life School, there are other courses in emotional intelligence, are going to give you a lot of leverage here. Gonna get you there a lot faster. And please do these three steps.
Learning how to feel your feelings
A feeling is a physical sensation in your body, that is it. The feeling of anxiety or stress or sorrow or grief or longing. It is a physical sensation in your body. Like banging your knee on a table and the feeling you feel in your knee afterwards is a physical sensation in your body. They literally feel very similar in your body. It feels uncomfortable. Bang your knee on a table, it feels uncomfortable, but it passes, okay. strengthening our emotional intelligence is as the word says get intelligent about our emotions.
What does anxiety feel like in my body?
You get to neutralize this, you don’t need to make it so scary. I really find this, it’s like, has been so helpful for me approaching it in a more like, a clinical manner, like, like I’m describing a knee bang or something like, how would you describe the physical sensation you’re feeling to a medical doctor or friend? Okay, like right now I’m in perimenopause, say a friend has never had a hot flash before. How would I describe that to her?
I tried describing that to her like, in detail, what it feels like in my body. Now try describing to her what shame feels like in your body. They literally are both physical sensations in our body. One is caused by our thoughts, and one is caused by our hormones. That is it. That is it. It doesn’t have to be more serious than that. In fact, the physical sensations caused by hormones or biology, like our knee banging, or the hot flush will last longer than the ones caused by our thoughts. The ones caused by our thoughts, if we process it and do these three steps, they leave within 60 to 90 seconds, studies show.
Take this clinical approach
How about thinking like, like describing to a male person, what a period cramp feels like, how detailed can you be? Now, how detailed can you be describing what stress feels like in your body? Neutralize this, this isn’t that dramatic. Both are physical sensations in your body, one is caused by your thoughts, and one is caused by biology, hormones in this case. We don’t need to make it more scarier than this. And I don’t want you to discount this step. Learning how to feel my feelings made all the difference to me warriors, dropping the fear around feeling.
Learning that it’s a physical sensation in my body caused by the thoughts I’m thinking, caused by the sentences in my head. That’s it. That was my golden practice to freedom, to moving out of codependency. I tell you a funny thing happens when we take the fear out of feeling our feelings. When we get better at feeling our feelings. Not only are we less afraid of feeling our feelings. We’re just like, ‘Oh, darn, okay, whack to my knee, that stinks or oh, I’m having a period cramp or, okay, I’m feeling some shame now. We also get better at letting other people feel their feelings. It’s like a part of our brain is like, Okay, if I can handle the physical sensation of a tight chest from anxiety, maybe my husband can too. Which is true.
The benefits of learning how to feel your feelings
For me, when I got better at feeling anxious or stressed, or overwhelmed, or sad, or whatever, when I got better at feeling it, when I learned how to do it, and I simplified it in this way, I’m like, that’s all it is, the people around me benefited massively. First, like from a personal level, instead of being codependent and putting my emotions on someone else, I took responsibility for my feelings. It was the difference between emotional maturity and immaturity. Okay, instead of me acting all anxious and controlling I would say, something like, I’m feeling anxious. I’m gonna go take some deep breaths now. Or I’m feeling worried, I’m gonna go journal.
Like I took responsibility for my feelings. I didn’t blame it on ‘I’m feeling anxious because you’re anxious’ or I’m worried because you’re I’m like, ‘No, I’m feeling worried because the thoughts I’m thinking in my head’, or I’m feeling anxious because it’s like that. And when I want it, took control of that, it just shifted, like dynamics in my house completely. Second, and this is huge.
Since I felt more confident about my ability to feel feelings, and was less anxious about being anxious, or less stressed about being stressed, I was and am more able to extend that same courtesy and confidence to the people in my life. I began to trust that the people in my life could feel stress, or worry or anxious. They didn’t need me to fix it, to over function.
Resilience and emotional learning
Think of this, like when your kid whacks their knee on the table, and they feel physical discomfort? You trust their body can handle it. You might say, ‘Wow, that stinks, do you need anything?’ Okay, we’ve empathy for them, but we trust their body can handle it. Treating the physical discomfort of their emotional state in the same way as that, was empowering for both me and them. I might say something similar. Like say, my kid says I’m feeling really anxious about XYZ. I might say the same thing, I would say if they whack their knee, I’d be like, ‘Wow, that stinks, do you need anything?
I am demonstrating trust.
I am modeling trust. I am modeling faith in them, that is contagious. What I noticed is they don’t get freaked out about being freaked out. Plus they learn how to best manage the emotions in their body. I don’t take responsibility for managing it, they take responsibility. It’s their individual experience. I don’t rush in to try to fix it. I don’t do that fun, lawnmower parenting or spouse thing. And I try to fix things at a time, so they don’t feel uncomfortable emotions. No. When I learned that I can feel a feeling that the worst thing that happens to me is an uncomfortable physical sensation, my brain allows and jumps to this conclusion that the other people in my life can, too. So cool.
All right, I don’t leave it here for you today. Because this is so deep that if you practice this, if you practice this, you are going to have massive shifts in your codependency and you’re going to feel a lot more in control and empower, okay. Remember one of the realities of life is that the small shifts in our daily action and behavior lead to massive changes in our lives. And I want this massive change in your life. This feeling, this massive change of feeling more free, lighter, and less responsible for everyone else. Feels so wonderful. This is so big. We’re at a time of year when a lot can be asked of us. We’re maybe setting up some holiday plans or things in our kids schools or with our parents lives or work tasks, okay. Leaning into this, okay, is huge.
Inviting to subscribe to the podcast
Later in the season. I’ll be doing podcasts on boundaries, people pleasing, saying no when you mean no. Okay, so make sure you’ve subscribed to the show so you don’t miss a single episode. Oh my gosh, yes. Don’t miss an episode because I have an amazing interview coming up with a woman, with a woman, she’s going to help us with those really emotionally immature people in our lives, sometimes called narcissists. And that was an awesome interview, but I can’t wait for you to hear it. So make sure you’re subscribed.
For today, returning to these two things, okay. Please, one compassion with yourself , two feel your feelings. I hated the feeling of giving other people control over how I feel. That really, it might be the definition of disempowerment, okay. That is not what I want for you. We’re going to be aware, we’re going to notice where we have the tendency to be codependent to put other people in charge of how we’re feeling. We’re not going to judge ourselves, we’re just going to notice and then, two we’re going to practice becoming more emotionally intelligence. We’re going to strengthen our emotional intelligence. What do the different feelings feel like in our body?
Maintain a small diary
That’s it. Okay, you could keep a little journal. You’re talking to a doctor, stress feels like this, anger feels like this. Let’s spend more time focused on what we’re feeling than what other people are feeling. That’s it. I’m here for you. Remember this change, when we change anything, it feels uncomfortable?
Your nervous system will feel like you’re doing something wrong by not lawnmowering or not helicoptering or not fixing. Make sure you have a place you can go to for support when you’re changing your behaviors. It is not I mean, this is probably obvious, but it’s usually not the case that you can get support you need from the people who are currently around you, mainly because they’re usually complicit in the same behaviors. If we’ve been unconsciously acting co-dependently, chances are very high that they are, too.
So we’ll hear things from our well meaning friends and relatives, ‘But she’s your daughter, or she’s your mother in law, or your daughter stressed, what are you going to do?’ What are you going to do? That’s codependency. That sort of thinking is what got us into this co-dependent, disempowered place. Hey, remember no shame. It’s just this is the water we were raised in. Going back to that same pond looking for support is not wise.
So come get support and group coaching in the Love Your Life school or with your own coach. I have been in that disempowered, fearful place and I know these small steps with support, make big life changes. I am here to help you do that in the Love your Life, on the Love Your Life Show. I’ll put links to other shows here. I’m also in the Love Your Life School.
I really want you to be in this place of healthy, thriving relationships, to feel empowered to have confidence, to trust that we can feel our feelings and to believe in those with whom we’re in relationship with, that they can, too. Part of coaching is, I see this future you before she’s there and I want to bring you on for the ride. I see her because I now am her. I used to be very disempowered and co-dependent, in a mess and I know that this is possible. So for today these two steps, dear warriors. Take two steps. I am here with you. I love you and I support you. Let’s go!
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