The last three behaviors are ones that have everything to do with how you see yourself. As a Co-dependent we spend a lot of our time focused on others leaving us very little to no time focusing on ourselves. These three behaviors are Low Self Esteem, Problem with Intimacy, and Painful Emotions. As we begin to understand that life balance is the awareness of the imbalance, we see it as a dance rather than a destination. There is a season for everything, and the seasons should always include time for you to sit, be still, and love who you are becoming.
The interesting thing about Low Self Esteem is we all experience it. Even those who are extremely confident struggle with “feeling worthy.” In order to exchange a low self for a confident self, you will have to decide to be open to feeling discomfort. We gain Confidence through growth as no one has it or doesn’t have it; it just develops as we experience life. What we decide to make of those experiences makes the difference in how we feel about the outcome of them. Remember, we don’t choose our circumstances, but we can choose what we think about them. Next time you have a disagreement with a loved one ask yourself how you wish to perceive this and what would I need to think to make it so.
You might have a Problem with Intimacy if a loved one touches you and you find yourself cringing with thoughts like, “What do they want?”? By having such questions, you are building a wall, brick by brick, that is hurting you and could be hurting others. Having a love hate relationship with intimacy is a very internal and personal thing. That is why I want to offer you to replace this behavior with Vulnerability. Being vulnerable with yourself can improve your intimate moments. Whether it’s a hug from a friend or family member, questioning yourself and being open to yourself can help you explore what’s going on for you. Receiving a hug and kiss when you feel worthy and open to it is a beautiful thing and one that everyone could choose to experience.
This next behavior is one that parallels the previous one, however, it does deserve its own space as one of the Twelve. Painful Emotions can feel real as our mind doesn’t distinguish between real or fake. One thing I have personally experienced in my growth as one with co-dependent behaviors is that as I developed vulnerability, painful emotions came to the surface and I was in a place where I could open up to the possibility of moving through them.
Painful emotions are common to a co-dependent. The emphasis they put on themselves to be happy all the time can bury emotions that don’t leave. Taking on the behavior of courage can open your mind to process these emotions instead of ignoring them.
Growing through the process of viewing situations in life as impossible to possible and even inevitable is absolutely amazing. As you tackle each behavior and exchange it for another, believing it is possible, you unlock the door to transformative relationships. Exchanging Low Self-Esteem to Self-Confidence, Problem with Intimacy to Vulnerability, and Painful Emotions to taking on Courage, the thoughts and emotions you choose to have about yourself will blossom.
You will experience a range of many emotions and I want you to know that as your coach, I will walk beside you through these processes. Many obstacles will arise as you begin to replace one behavior with another. By building on thoughts that will produce useful behaviors and habits, you can open yourself up to new paths with unlimited possibilities. Remember once you have that awakening the thought of returning to old behaviors becomes a distant memory as your new habits create more thriving relationships with yourself and others.
Do you know where the old saying “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” came from? Back in the day you would bathe once a week if you were wealthy or once a month if you where poor. Dad would get the fresh water, then any other boys of the house hold, then Mom followed by the girls and last the baby. By the time the baby hit the water it was mud water. You could literally not see the baby and throw it out with the bath water if you where not careful.
In this week’s blog I’d like to offer that just as with not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, one can see multiple points of view of an event and take away from it what is valuable to you. The more I work on managing my mind and helping clients see their thinking, the more I realize that I can see two opposing views and hold value in both. When we hold the concept of all or nothing in our thoughts and in our actions, we miss growing opportunities.
“If you believe this way, then you must think that.” But why must we think this way? It’s so much more complicated than that; people can enjoy a common interest, but for completely different reasons. For instance, Gal One likes going to the racetrack because she likes the sound of the cars while Guy One likes to go because he enjoys looking at the different models of cars. They both enjoy the same interest, but for different reasons.
With all or nothing thinking might I suggest that you become clear with your beliefs and convictions first, with your own reasons for believing something, and understanding that when you listen to others, they may have differing points of view than you that are just as true; their reasons may not be your reasons. Although deciding this is what you believe, it makes sense to you, and you don’t have to prove it or change anyone’s mind is a comforting thought to some, deciding that your view, as being the best, might not serve you or those around you.
One of my go to emotions is curiosity; if you approach conversations with true intent to understand where a person is coming from, and not to fix or change their point of view, you can learn to truly see how it is they see it. Slowing down and explaining a viewpoint can be a challenge for anyone, especially when emotions are involved. When you choose to really listen and hear someone explain their stance on a topic it is surprising how much that person gains respect and trust in you just by the fact that you have no intent to change them.
Understand that just because you were willing to listen does not mean that the person you heard from wants to hear from you, sometimes people just want to be heard and to have someone listen intently and without judgment. Remember growth is an individual job and the more respect you show toward others the more respect you are showing towards yourself. Don’t engage if you are not truly curious, be willing to be truthful with yourself and others on the limits you have for certain topics that might need more development on your part of belief.
When someone is listening and you are actually present with them, not thinking of what to say in return but merely listening with intent to understand, life can open up to you and the relationships around you.
“When you have the choice in being right or being kind, choose kindness.” – by Dr. Wayne Dryer.
Boundaries are important for us to have and understand. We don’t necessarily need a lot of rules in our lives. If we build up too many walls, we run the risk of isolating ourselves from people and opportunities. Keeping in mind that what you value is important to you and that is the reason you create boundaries. A friend that is always late when you value time, having a mother show up unannounced when a priority of yours is keeping a schedule, these are a few examples of boundary issues.
Clearly expressing boundaries needs to happen when a boundary that you hold has been crossed. When someone does something that infringes on you, emotionally or physically, it is not automatic that they know they had crossed a boundary. Most of us don’t know what other people’s boundaries are. Take a look at my blog last week as it explored the topic on creating principles and priorities. Knowing what you value in life will help you set healthier boundaries.
Here are a few tips to remember when you feel it is time to set a boundary due to events that are interfering with your principles:
Creating a boundary when frustrated, mad, or angry is not the right time. Get your thoughts down on paper and decide what you would like to say from a place of love and peace after you’ve had some time to think. It can make all the difference.
Make the request and let them know what act they are doing that is infringing on you. Then share with them the consequence if they choose not to comply with your request.
Here are a couple examples of things you could say once you’ve decided on a boundary:
“The kids and I love it when you come to the house, that is why I am asking you to call before you come over so I can make sure it is a good time for us to have you. If you do not call the door will be locked if you show up unannounced.”
“I know that you run late, at times, and I am looking forward to having lunch with you. Just know that if you are more than 15 minutes late, I will be leaving. I won’t be mad; I just won’t be waiting longer than that.”
Lastly, I want to talk on the topic of eliminating people from our lives, as this is not a way of creating boundaries. There are occasions when people are physically and mental harmful to you and in those cases removing yourself might be best. However, I do want to offer you a thought; what if those who cause the most frustration in you are really here to help you grow? Instead, try to ask yourself, “what can I learn from this relationship, how will listening to this person allow me to grow?”
The key to healthy boundaries is in the request and in the follow through. When you follow through with what you find to be important you are showing respect to yourself and respect to others through your communications. If creating boundaries is new to you, realize that creating boundaries now could be challenging or they could be liberating…the choice is yours.
I was coaching a client and gave her an assignment to write down her top 5 priorities for her next session. At the start of the following session she shared those priorities. Then I asked her how her week went. When she described to me what she did with her time it became apparent that not one of her priorities was represented in her daily activities.
When I relayed my observation to her, she was shocked and said she hadn’t even realized she wasn’t including her priorities. Now to her credit this is not uncommon. In fact, I would say it is more common than not common, as I am guilty of this as well.
Just like my client I have found myself feeling a little frustrated because I was not accomplishing things that I had thought were a priority. What I found was that until I became clear on my Principles or what I value most and realized that priorities change depending on my current goals, I would always feel frustrated by this. Making sure my priorities aligned with my principles helped eliminate the guilt of feeling like I wasn’t accomplishing the important things. It also helped me focus on creating a life around what mattered most.
Let me explain further…
We have a desire that this person, place, or thing needs to be a priority. We have thoughts of what we think should be our priorities then we have daily tasks that sneak in if we don’t have a clear view of our principles. Unless our thoughts are matched to our principles then to our priorities, we can get stuck. We often find ourselves going in circles on the infamous hamster wheel, getting frustrated and not getting the results we want because we are so busy doing task work that isn’t based on our principles.
For example, I value Time. I used to think Family and Community were two of my main Principles, but these are not within my control. When I dove deeper into creating a life on purpose, I discovered that valuing something not within your control, like other people, is more of a priority and not a Principle. I then clarified my top three Principles to be Time, Health, and Spirituality; all three of which are within my control.
In Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People his first three habits all have to do with the “inside job” or managing your mind, personal vision, personal leadership, and personal management. This book is a good example of building a foundation of your Principles before creating your priorities.
But what do these priorities look like? Completing my weekly schedule on Sunday evening is a priority because of my Principle of Time. As I fill in my calendar, I add in time for grocery shopping, meal planning and exercise. Some examples of priorities that represent my Principle of Health would be spending time with my husband on a hike, taking our dog to the dog park together, or going for a walk with a friend.
My Principle of Spirituality is represented by tasks such as scheduling time for meditation/prayer, reading scripture or other materials and sharing what I learn with my boys or husband, and doing some service work or giving to nonprofit organizations that I support.
Everyday tasks such as work, paying bills, housework, car maintenance, etc. are also penciled into my calendar, but these are just mundane tasks that need to be completed. Because I value Time so much, I make certain to not “over-pack” my schedule and leave “blank space” for those unexpected things that can happen. If I don’t plan for it, I will become subject to it.
Once you decide to be clear with your values and prioritize tasks accordingly, along with taking the time to purposely work on your thoughts, your world will become a more peaceful place. Instead of trying to fit people and activities in based on reacting to others’ priorities, create a life based on your principles and priorities, thereby creating a life on purpose.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them – Mathew 7 :20.
It is the little things that we do consistently that add up to what our life becomes. We decide if the little things, or habits, we do are a good habit or a bad habit. One way to determine if a habit is good or bad for you is to look at the net result from that daily habit and ask yourself, “Will this make me a better person long term, or am I seeking immediate and temporary gratification?”
I am, and always have been, a big reader of self-help books. One of the first reads that really stuck with me, even though I didn’t quite stick with it, was The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. It is a book of 10 scrolls which offer an almost spiritual guide to the philosophy of salesmanship and how to be successful in both your personal and professional lives. The scrolls where written and created to help retrain your thinking by reading them one at a time for 30 consecutive days, three times a day, and then only after you did that consistently would you move on to the next scroll. I was 18 when I first read that book. I wanted to become the master of my own thoughts and hoped this book would help me with that. I still have this book, and from time to time will pick it up and read the wisdom in its scrolls.
Another book I am looking forward to reading and would encourage you to read is Make Your Bed by Admiral William H McRaven. I mention this book because it is about the little habits in life and the application that make the difference. Check out his various speeches on YouTube! They are definitely worth viewing.
It truly is the commitment to self and the application of small habits that becomes the key to change. Finding information in some great books like those I speak of above, I was only absorbing the information and not really committed to applying said information on a regular, habitual basis.
Here are 3 tips I would give on making the switch from lackadaisical information absorption to purposeful application of the information you accumulate:
Don’t go in blindly. Change will affect you and others around you. Sometimes others are not excited about your change because change is scary. Not everyone will be as excited as you are about the changes you are making. Being aware of this obstacle is important so you can create your strategy to overcome and pull through it. Keep your focus and stay committed.
Remember to observe. Intentionally observing what it is we are thinking about and why we are thinking that way is so important. It is through this purposeful and objective observation of our thoughts and looking at them as pure DATA that we can begin to react with less emotion and find reasons that matter to us for long term success, rather than just reacting in the moment.
Stick to one change at a time. We are so good at adding more to our plates. We get excited and want everything to change right now. This is where I would advise caution and patience. Contain yourself to one change for 30 days. Practice, practice, practice. This can make life more bearable. Then after 30 days add another change, again something small, for the next 30 days, and so on. This will provide both yourself and others around you needed adjustment time to the new change.
Even if you have made little choices that are not serving you, you can, if you are willing to experience the discomfort, change it, just by one little thing that you do daily, one day at a time. I’ll end by looking to the Al-Anon slogans #keepitsimple #onedayatatime #easydoesit #justfortoday. Be patient and kind to yourself when seeking to change.
The phrase, “All problems are interpersonal relationship problems” rang in my ears as I finished listening to The Courage to be Disliked, a book by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga. I have listened to it on audio book at least three times and took away a new perspective each time. It is enjoyable to listen to as it is read as a dialogue between an older, wiser man and a younger adult, discussing on the theory of Adlerian Psychology. So, it feels like you are listening to a conversation.
Adlerian Psychology is a psychotherapy approach based upon the work of Alfred Adler. Adler is considered one of the big three founders of psychotherapy alongside Freud and Jung. One of the points that was made clear at the beginning was the difference in Etiology psychology Freud and Juan and Teleology psychology, Adler.
Here is a definition of each:
Etiology – the study of causation or origination. More completely, etiology is the study of the causes, origins, or reasons behind the way that things are, or the way they function, or it can refer to the causes themselves.
Teleology – Is a reason or explanation for something as a function of its end, purpose, or goal. A purpose that is imposed by a human use.
The book uses many examples to explain Teleology. One example was how 2 people from the same household, when now as adults, choose very different ways to view the world. In Etiology the results and outcome from cause and effect would be the same. Yet Teleology allows you to have the reason of why you decided to do or not to do something.
One point, that I would say as a whole, people might find harsh, was that trauma does not exist. That now, is now, and the past is only present in your thoughts now. He made some compelling arguments that made me really examine my past. Viewing habits, I have now that I might find myself justifying and saying, “That is why I am not where I want to be, because of this in my past.”
To paraphrase a point in the book, “We make out of them (our experiences in life) whatever suits our purpose. It’s not the experience itself but the meaning we give those past experiences.”
What I found very interesting about this statement was its similarity to a question I will use with clients from time to time, “What are you making that mean?” It’s a question I use on myself regularly, and it gives me some awareness about where my thinking is right now, as well as is that thinking serving my bigger purpose as a Wife, Mother, Coach, daughter, sister, friend, and community member?
Another topic that was explored in Kishimi and Koga’s book was that of the traits of inferiority, superiority, and competition. When we find these traits in our behaviors, we can see people and situations as winners and losers. We compare ourselves to others. What they have and what we don’t have, or the opposite, we have so much more, and they have not as much, or none.
Being in competition with someone we might show up feeling superior to them, or we might think they are better than us so we show up as inferior to them. When we can drop competition and allow ourselves to see those around us as comrades and people to learn from, the ego can have a rest and you find yourself realizing that “All problems are interpersonal relationship problems.”