What do you focus on most often with your mind throughout the day? I mean, our minds are constantly working and processing – do you actually notice what the themes are of your mental focus? If you don’t know, don’t feel bad. Most people live their entire lives with unquestioned thoughts, beliefs, stories and meanings running their lives. To actually stop and question our thoughts takes consciousness and unfortunately, most of us are not in the driver’s seat on our mental focus.
As Tony Robbins says – the mind’s job is not to make you happy, it’s to keep you safe. And in the absence of information, our minds make up stories to fill in the blanks, and truth is not what the brain is about. It’s about protection. This is really handy in many situations when there is actual danger or threat, but the problem is that this survival thinking is what is running the show all the time for most of us – even when there is no threat. We are letting our brain drag us around emotionally rather than CHOOSING how we want to FEEL.
If you are over the age of say five or so, you have some patterns of thought burned in your brain that are the go-to that it uses. These patterns may have been cemented into place during challenging times, from hearing those who raised you repeat them or just through repeating them over and over yourself. You may have a story that plays out in your life that you are completely unconscious to. “I don’t have enough money”, “Nobody loves me”, “Life is hard”, “I’m not very good at X” and the list can be long.
I’ve been doing some serious research on the topic of codependency. Basically because I have some pretty strong patterns of it that tend to run my life sometimes. Some synonyms for this are: attached, dependent upon, and my favorite… HOOKED. It’s very much about your relationship with others, but it is also very much about your relationship with yourself. Most definitions list it as being “other-focused” in some way. We let other people’s behavior affect us and we become focused on controlling that person’s behavior. This all stems from a deeper root though I feel - our relationship with ourselves and what we focus on.
Things we codependent types have difficulty with are things like self-esteem, setting healthy boundaries, we get uber focused on the behavior of others and avoid dealing with our own junk. All topics I have written several of these chats about! These things may not show up in all our relationships, just certain ones, or they may be in all our dealings with others.
Other characteristics are things like care taking, rescuing others, repression of expressing your authentic self (fear of not being accepted), people pleasing, being controlling, poor communication, sarcasm that belittles others, anger, blaming others for how we feel, thinking we’re responsible for how other people feel. My theory is that we ALL have these patterns within us. The question is, am I going to let it run my life on auto-pilot?
So in my research on the codependency pattern, here is what I think is at the root of it all… a focus on FEAR and LACK. Fear of not being enough, fear of upsetting others, and feeling responsible for their reactions and experience – fearing they will withdraw their love for us (lack), depending on others for validation that we’re okay enough because we don’t know the truth about ourselves – that we are all 100% enough. At its roots it’s a lack of self, fear of not being enough. If you have a codependency pattern running your brain – these roots are going to show in your relationships and it won't fullfilling.
Codependent patterns also seem to me to be about being conditional. You need certain conditions to be in place in order for you to choose to feel okay. When other people are a certain way, THEN we can feel safe and ok. But the problem with this conditional approach is that it’s never sustainable. If we need conditions to line up just so in order to show up and be okay with ourselves, we’re screwed. Because conditions are unpredictable, never static and out of our control. Additionally, external events don’t dim good solid self-esteem. If our self-acceptance is intact, conditions don’t determine our mindset and beliefs about ourselves.
We all have some degree of patterns that we are in other people’s business. This is very often simply in an attempt to not deal with our own business. If I’m giving out advice that’s unsolicited, I’m out of my lane, in someone else’s’ business – where I have no business. If I'm worried about what others think of me, I'm in someone else's business. A place where I have absolutely zero control, which means I'm setting myself up for suffering.
So what’s the antidote for being “hooked” a.k.a. our codependent patterns? Here’s what I am coming to believe it is… what we choose to focus on and being present. As I said earlier, the roots of this pattern are in FEAR and LACK. The opposite of fear and lack is LOVE and APPRECIATION. To steer our focus, we must be present. If we don’t aim our mind, it will default to lack and fear.
If we can make a conscious choice to aim our mental focus at love and appreciation, it overrides the roots of codependency because you can’t focus on love and fear at the same time – impossible. An undirected mind goes into survival mode, and remember, your brains job is not to make you happy – it’s to keep you alive. When we let the mind run on auto-pilot with patterns we have accumulated through our lives, we end up with a lot of stress and anxiety and most people live this way because it takes some effort and commitment to override the patterns.
When you notice you're dimming yourself to attempt to control the reaction of another person, or if you notice you are feeling responsible for a fellow adult who is just as capable as you are to have their own experience, realize that your roots of fear and lack are showing. Time for a root job!
Just notice, take a breath and remember what you WANT to aim your focus at – LOVE and APPRECIATION. Unhook from trying to control the other person, their feelings, their reactions, and just LOVE them. Your relationship with YOURSELF is what you are getting a clue about, not about the other person you are focusing on in that moment. See past your pattern, and focus on your light. Remember, being hooked is a pattern, not who you ARE.
Please don’t misunderstand self-acceptance to mean you just disregard other people. It means you accept yourself AND others, exactly as they are. Without trying to manipulate, control, cajole them into being anything else. You know... like unconditional love??? It’s dropping your resistance to what is, because at its core resistance is also fear. So here are my antidotes to codependent patterns:
These antidotes to our hooked mental patterns sound really simple and they are. They just aren't easy, because it takes willingness and moment by moment choice to create these new healthier patterns. As you slip from your focus – and you will, often, remind yourself you are exactly where you need to be… you’re on your way.
Sandy Edie Hansen
I use this space to "Chat" about things I am working through and learning in my life currently. Join me!