Cat with Teddy Bear


"Don't compromise yourself. You're all you've got."     ~Janis Joplin~

What is Co-Dependence?

My good feelings about who I am stem from being liked by you.

My good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you.

Your struggle affects my serenity.

My mental attention focuses on solving your problems or relieving your  pain.

My mental attention is focused on pleasing you.

My mental attention is focused on protecting you.

My metal attention is focused on manipulating you. (To do it my way).

My self esteem is bolstered by solving your problems.

My self esteem is bolstered by relieving your pain.

My own hobbies and interests are put aside.

My time is spent sharing your interests and hobbies.

Your clothing and personal appearance are dictated by my desires as I  feel you are a reflection of me.

Your behavior is dictated by my desires as I feel you are a reflection of me.

I am not aware of how I feel, I am aware of how you feel.

I am not aware of what I want--I ask what you want.

I am not aware--I assume.

The dreams I have for my future are linked to you.

My fear of rejection determines what I say or do.

My fear of your anger determines what I say or do.

I use giving as a way of feeling safe in our relationship.

My social circle diminishes as I involve myself with you.

I put my values aside in order to connect with you.

I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own.

The quality of my life is in relation to the quality of yours.

Typical Characteristics:

We assume responsibility for other's feelings and/or behaviors.

We feel overly responsible for others feelings and/or behaviors.

We have difficulty in identifying feelings--am I angry? lonely? sad? happy? joyful?

We have difficulty in expressing feelings--am I feeling happy? sad? hurt? joyful?

We tend to fear and/or worry how others' may respond to our feelings.

We have difficulty in forming and/or maintaining close relationships.

We are afraid of being hurt and/or rejected by others.

We are perfectionistic and place too many expectations on ourselves and others.

We have difficulty making decisions.

We tend to minimize, alter or even deny the truth about how we feel.

Other people's actions and attitudes tend to determine what we say and do.

We tend to put other people's wants and needs first.

Our fear of other's feelings (anger) determines what we say and do.

We question or ignore our own values to connect with significant others.

We value others' opinions more than our own.

Our self-esteem is bolstered by outer/other influences.

We can not acknowledge good things about ourselves.

Our serenity and mental attention is determined by how others are feeling and/or behaving.

We tend to judge everything we do, think or say harshly, by someone else's standards.

Nothing done, said, or thought is 'good enough.'

We do not know or believe that being vulnerable and asking for help is  both okay and normal.

We do not know that it is okay to talk about problems outside the family; or that feelings just are--and it is better to share them than to deny, minimize, or justify them.

We are steadfastly loyal--even when the loyalty is unjustified--and often even personally harmful.

We have to be 'needed' in order to have a relationship with others.

~Author Unknown to me~

Teddy Bear

Codependence vs. Interdependence

In order to stop giving our power away, to stop reacting out of our inner children, to stop setting ourselves up to be victims, so that we can start learning to trust and Love ourselves, we need to begin to practice discernment. Discernment is having the eyes to see, and the ears to hear and the ability to feel the emotional energy that is Truth.

We cannot become clear on what we are seeing or hearing if we are reacting to emotional wounds that we have not been willing/able to feel and subconscious attitudes that we have not been willing/able to look at. We cannot learn to trust ourselves as long as we are still setting ourselves up to be victimized by untrustworthy people.

Not only were we taught to be victims of people, places, and things, we were taught to be victims of ourselves, of our own humanity. We were taught to take our ego-strength, our self-definition from external manifestations of our being. . .Looks, talent, intelligence external manifestations of our being are gifts to be celebrated. They are temporary gifts. They are not our total being. They do not define us or dictate if we have worth. We were taught to do it backwards. To take our self-definition and self-worth from temporary illusions outside of, or external to our beings. It does not work. It is dysfunctional.

~Robert Burney M.A.~

Teddy Bear

Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Codependence and interdependence are two very different dynamics. Codependence is about giving away power over our self-esteem. Taking  our self definition and self-worth from outside or external sources is dysfunctional because it causes us to give power over how we feel about ourselves to people and forces which we cannot control. Any time that  we give power over our self-esteem to something outside of ourselves we are making that person or thing our higher power. We are worshiping false gods.

If my self-esteem is based on people, places, and things; money, property, and prestige; looks, talent, intelligence; then I am set up to be a victim. People will not always do what I want them too; property can be destroyed by an earthquake or flood or fire; money can disappear in a stock market crash or bad investment; looks change as I get older. Everything changes. All outside or external conditions are temporary.

That is why it is so important to get in touch with our Spiritual connection. To start realizing that we have worth because we are children of God. That we are all part of the Eternal ONENESS that is the God Force/Goddess Energy /Great Spirit. We are Spiritual beings having a human experience our worth as beings is not dependent upon any outer or external condition. We are Unconditionally Loved and we always have been.

The more we can start owning the Truth of who we really are and integrating it into our relationship with ourselves, the more we can enjoy this human experience that we are having. Then we can start learning how to be interdependent how to give power away in conscious, healthy ways because our self-worth is no longer dependent on outside sources.

Interdependence is about making allies, forming partnerships. It is about forming connections with other beings. Interdependence means that we give someone else some power over our welfare and our feelings. Anytime we care about somebody or something we give away some power over our feelings. It is impossible to Love without giving away some power. When we choose to Love someone (or thing a pet, a car, anything) we are giving them the power to make us happy we cannot do that without also giving them the power to hurt us or cause us to feel angry or scared.

In order to live we need to be interdependent. We cannot participate in life without giving away some power over our feelings and our welfare. I am not talking here just about people. If we put money in a bank we are giving some power over our feelings and welfare to that bank. If we have a car we have a dependence on it and will have feelings if it something happens to it.

If we live in society we have to be interdependent to some extent and give some power away. The key is to be conscious in our choices and own responsibility for the consequences.

The way to healthy interdependence is to be able to see things clearly to see people, situations, life dynamics and most of all ourselves clearly. If we are not working on healing our childhood wounds and changing our childhood programming then we cannot begin to see ourselves clearly let alone anything else in life.

The disease of Codependence causes us to keep repeating patterns that are familiar. So we pick untrustworthy people to trust, undependable people to depend on, unavailable people to love. By healing our emotional wounds and changing our intellectual programming we can start to practice discernment in our choices so that we can change our patterns and learn to trust ourselves.

As we develop healthy self-esteem based on knowing that the Force is with us and Loves us, then we can consciously take the risk of Loving, of being interdependent, without buying into the belief that the behavior of others determines our self-worth. We will have feelings we will get hurt, we will be scared, we will get angry because those feelings are an unavoidable part of life. Feelings are a part of the human experience that we came here to learn about they cannot be avoided. And trying to avoid them only causes us to miss out on the Joy and Love and happiness that can also be a part of the human experience.

Copyright 1997 by Robert Burney
  PO Box 977  
Cambria, CA 93428

(This column originally appeared in the Information Press of San Luis Obispo California.)

A good website to visit is Joy to You and Me