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This is one of a
of articles on Lesson 1 in
this Web site - free your true Self to guide you in calm
and conflictual times, and reduce significant false-self
effective way to reduce relationship addiction
(codependence) - a common symptom of psychological
wounds from a low-nurturance (traumatic) childhood.
The article assumes you're familiar with...
Codependence is one of four types of addiction which all seek to
typically over-focus on the current welfare and activities of another person (often ano-ther addict), and consistently lose sight of their own needs,
feelings, and lives.
That is, codependents lose healthy me/you
boundaries and their own personal
integrity, identity, friends, and life goals - despite consistently painful outcomes.
Americans first learned of this widespread dynamic in the
1980s from books by
Anne Wilson Schaef and
professionals and the public have been taught to view addiction as a
disease. I strongly disagree, because by definition,
are caused by germs and/or organic malfunctions. I propose that
(toxic compulsion) comes from an
unconscious psychological reflex to numb or
distract from (self-medicate) significant shame, guilt, anxiety, confusion,
loneliness, and despair.
Believing "I have a disease" can promote feeling defective,
"sick," anxious, and
inferior to "healthy" people. This increases the false-self wound of
excessive shame. Thinking "I've inherited psychological wounds from my
ancestors" feels and sounds different. Do you agree?
The public and many health professionals see addictions as a
personal pathology. As family-system
dynamics become better understood and accepted, that is
gradually changing to seeing any addiction is a symptom
of a low-nurturance
surviving a low-nurturance childhood promotes
- a fragmented per-sonality composed of
or parts. Most
"mental health problems" - including codependence - are
symptoms of a disabled true Self. This implies
that reducing any psychological problem requires...
accepting and identifying
the subselves comprising your personality
harmonizing your team of subselves under the leadership of your
wise resident true Self; and...
high-nurturance (vs. toxic) social environments - e.g. friends,
church, neighborhood, and school or workplace.
this nonprofit Web site provides practical guidance and resources for
doing these things.
Options for Reducing Codependence
Many people believe the most effective way to manage
(vs. cure) an active addiction is thru some version of the
well-known 12 steps and
of Alcoholics Anonymous. More recently, addiction therapists
who adopt a family-systems
view of pathology add the goal of changing or ending the
toxic family relationships. These approaches usually
therapy with the addict and her or his toxic relationships
so far. This article outlines how to do so.
codependence is caused by...
more subselves causing the feelings and beliefs of
excessive shame - e.g.
guarded by an
subself who distrusts the true Self, and...
and a tireless
who promote shame and guilt; and...
more subselves causing terror and unrealistic expectation of
abandonment, based on
Every person has a unique mix of subselves like these, whose
combined personality roles ("jobs") and beliefs can cause
relationship and other addictions.
Patient work to
change the attitudes and roles of these subselves can reduce
codependence over time. The rest of this article outlines a
general way to do this using parts work, or inner-family
understand this outline, read these
Outline - Main
Adjust the following framework to suit your unique situation. Start by scanning these
FAQs about subselves,
and this overview of
"parts work." This framework assumes you have
honestly for false self wounds, and admit that you have
significant symptoms of
- Work patiently
to empower your true Self to
guide other subselves in all situations. As part
of this work...
who are stuck in the past
into the present
each Inner Child to the
and other supportive subselves including your
patiently with Shamed subselves to replace toxic old
beliefs with realistic
and guard against any subselves feeling guilty for doing
trust of each Guardian subself in the Nurturer's skill
and true-Self's leadership ability;
Abandoned Inner Child to understand and grieve real
early-childhood abandonments. If useful, use this
technique to promote closure and better outcomes;
the Critic, Worrier, and Perfectionist subselves to stop shaming
and scaring the Inner Kids;
the Addict subself that s/he can trust the true Self and
Nurturer to protect the inner Kids, and then
a new inner-family role for her/him.
Abandoned, Shamed, and Scared Inner Kids feel more
secure, convince the Pleaser that s/he can relax and
allow the Self to safely disagree with and assert limits
and consequences with other people;
teach all subselves a Personal Bill of Rights like
this one, and
train them to see that
opinions, and beliefs are just as valid as anyone else's.
and have your Self (capital "S") use them to (a)
your primary relationship needs and boundaries,
and (b) assert them
effectively with everyone - special-ly people who shame,
and frighten your subselves.
Each of these steps needs to be coordinated by your true
Self, and may take weeks of patient effort. Some steps may
overlap, need repetition, and/or require outside
Reducing relationship addiction is not as observable as
giving up drug dependence. Generally,
symptoms of true
recovery progress include an obvious reduction in
codependent behaviors and attitudes like
Some changes to note include...
participating regularly in one or more
Anonymous (CoDA) meetings for several months;
enjoying friendships with other people beside your
partner - even if s/he complains;
your own opinions, needs, and boundaries without
significant anxiety or guilt;
activities you enjoy even if your partner isn't
interested in them;
increasing comfort in letting your partner be
responsible for his/her own life, and no longer seeking
to "rescue" him or her from discomfort;
apologizing much less to your partner, without guilt or
comfortable not seeing or communicating with your
partner for periods;
and enforcing behavioral limits with (confronting) your
partner without guilt or anxiety;
activating another addiction
to compensate for giving up codependence;
notably calmer, centered and less anxious, more often;
genuine interest in your own life purpose -
even if it doesn't involve your partner.
sign of progress is deciding to end a codependent
relationship, and enjoying being alone for awhile, and/or
choosing a new partner who is often guided by her or his
true Self (is minimally wounded or is in active personal
Changes like these occur gradually over time. One helpful
way of noticing them is to keep a person-al log or
of your feelings and activities