Backbone Power | Backbone Tools: From Codependency to Dignity

Backbone Tools: From Codependency to Dignity

A quick test for you to ask yourself if you subscribe to any of these: “don’t rock the boat”, “everyone needs to like me,” “I hate conflict”, “asking myself what is important to me” is selfish,” if people really knew me they would know I was a fraud”. If the answer is YES, heads up and read on.

Backbone Tool One: Say ‘No’ when you mean No

When we rationalize, using one of the above messages we sell out on ourselves.

Are you worried about the holidays and “Uncle Harry” coming because he always gets drunk and then the chaos and drama start? This is your home; your rules/boundaries, your holidays, and you can act with dignity or be codependent. If codependency is running the show you will say. “But it is the holidays, but Uncle Harry may not have many more holidays’ with us, but who am I this is how he celebrates the holidays, but there is always drinking during the holidays.” And I would invite you to ask yourself, “What kind of holiday memories are you giving your family, what are you teaching your children, and how does all that resentment before and after the holidays feel? It is your choice! If you want to celebrate with dignity a simple phone call before the holiday and Say No to alcohol.

You, “Uncle Harry we are so looking forward to having you for our holiday dinner and we wanted to share with you a new tradition we will have for this year: We will be having an alcohol-free holiday dinner.

Uncle Harry, “Well that is the stupidest tradition I have ever heard we always have alcohol and it’s the holidays.”

You, “I know and this year we are having an alcohol-free holiday dinner.”

Uncle Harry, “ Well I just might not come”.

You, “We will miss you and hope you change your mind and join us.”

The best holiday present you can give yourself is to say No to toxicity and drama and you just did! Congratulations! (PS when Uncle Harry comes with a bottle of alcohol thank him and quietly put it away.)

Backbone Tool Two: Make Those Requests

Evolving you, “Well what are we going to do about that? You know you always say you are going to do something different and here we are again you don’t have a different plan of action. So what is it going to be this year? “

You, “ But everyone always compliments me on how great my gifts are and how much they love coming to our home for the holidays.”

Evolving you: “I would compliment you too in order to get you to keep giving me great gifts.” “And I can’t believe I still get away with giving you the IOU I always bring.”

You: “Remember the resentment all last year and here I am again. What do I do?”

Evolving You: How about calling everyone and making this request. “This year the children and I have put all the names in a bowl and we have drawn one name for each of you. Everyone only has to buy one gift for one person. We are so excited about this new tradition we hope you will join our excitement. “But we liked it the old way, it’s the holidays can’t we do it the old way?” Actually, thanks for the compliment and we are calling this the 2013 Holiday Request Bowl! See you on the 25th.

Backbone Tool Three: Speak Authentically

These are messy situations with no real one size fits all solutions. Many people in this situation go silent and never address the breakdown, they just avoid. No call, no acknowledgment of a long-standing tradition just no invitation issued. Obviously, I don’t recommend this way to handle this breakdown. I do recommend having an authentic conversation.

Authentic Conversations

It may “feel” better to set up the “we hate you” camps regarding ex’s but it is not in the best interest of the children who as you know live in both camps. Take the high road and always do what is best for the children. Have a holiday with dignity this year!

For more examples, exercises, and understanding of the importance of these three Backbone Tools and how to beat codependency, click here.

Backbone Tools: From Codependency to Dignity. Permission needed for reproduction in any form.

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Originally published at on September 18, 2020.

Psychotherapist, Speaker, Coach, and Author of “Backbone Power The Science of Saying No” | New Release Audiobook:

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