Changing Self-Defeating Beliefs and Behaviors
In Part I of "Changing Self-Defeating Beliefs and Behaviros", I told you about nine beliefs that can hamper your ability to live the life that you want. In Part II, I talk about letting go of these beliefs so that you can live the life that you want.
I know it is difficult and scary to let go of these beliefs. For many years we have thought that these beliefs helped us to survive. Remember, as an adult, they damage and sabotage our relationships. We deserve the opportunity to have healthy and fulfilling relationships. Many co-dependents have no idea what a healthy relationship is. Many have never seen a successful long term relationship up close. I promise you that they do exist and with some work and help you can have one.
Now that we have reviewed the beliefs that need to change, let's look at the behaviors that we need to work on:
Take care of yourself.
When I ask co-dependent clients what they do to take care of themselves, most say nothing. They often have never even thought about their own needs. Co-dependents try so hard to please others, that they lose their own identity. Many have no idea how to even begin the process of self-care. Some find focusing on themselves to be scary.
It is in the beginning, but after a while it is exhilarating. If you have no idea where to start, begin by being nice to yourself. Treat yourself as you would a very dear friend. Try to improve your lifestyle by making it more healthy. Get more rest, take the time to eat healthy and try to incorporate some mild exercise into your life.
Set boundaries in your relationships that are lopsided.
That means let other people know what you will no longer do for them, or what you will do if their behavior is unacceptable to you. For example you may tell a friend, spouse, lover or child that you will no longer bail them out of financial trouble. Do not say these things to dysfunctional people unless you are prepared to follow through with them. I know this will be difficult, but you can do it with some help.
Remember, the dysfunctional person will not like it. Since you have always taken care of them before, they may have developed a sense of entitlement. They will try to manipulate you, to make you feel that you have to take care of them. Many dysfunctional people are very adept at manipulating others to give them what they want. In the long run, it is not good for them, and it certainly isn’t good for you. By meeting their responsibilities for them, you unknowingly make it a little easier for them to remain dysfunctional.
Let go of what you cannot control.
I know. That is a lot easier said than done. I have been working on this for much of my adult life. I have learned that I have no control over other people, places and things. None at all. I am not the boss of the world. Neither are you. If you try to control things that you cannot, you are going to make other people angry and yourself frustrated. Remember that none of us are so smart that we know what other people should do. It is such a feeling of relief to let go of what we cannot control. It frees up a lot of energy for more constructive pursuits. We no longer have to constantly argue with other adults, or constantly check up on them. Instead we can focus on ourselves.
Stay out of situations that are not your responsibility.
Co-dependents are good at finding troubled people and difficult situations. Troubled people and difficult situations are drawn to co-dependents. Before you automatic ally say yes or offer to help, slow down. Ask yourself if this is your responsibility. How would helping them affect you? Maybe it would be better for them to face the consequences of their choices or actions. It would probably be better for you to direct the time, energy and resources to taking care of yourself. Proving to yourself that you can take care of yourself will give you more self-confidence. Having a good relationship with yourself with improve your relationships with others.
I know that working on these beliefs and behaviors is difficult. The rewards are more than worth it. If you would like to have some help outside of yourself, please contact me.
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