Dr. Anne Brown

Oct 14, 2021

3 min read

” Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Steve Jobs

Someone recently asked me the definition of Codependency, so let’s take a look at what we can see to help uncover this complicated phenomenon. The visual I have is someone who is supposed to be driving his own car in the race of life, but he is running around cleaning everyone else’s car.

When you are raised in a family with a lot of dysfunction; hypercritical, controlling, coddling, alcoholic/drug-addicted parent, chronically, a physically ill parent, absence of parenting or raised in a void, early death of a parent, etc. you do not get the skills you need to function unencumbered in life. You do not have all the tools. You develop different adaptive behaviors to deal with the dysfunction. These behaviors don’t work later in life. You must unlearn these behaviors and learn new behaviors. The new behaviors support you driving your own car without feeling guilty.

In my book I described three skills, I believe are the foundation of living a healthy life. They seem simple and if you are codependent/people-pleasing you don’t have them and can’t imagine how you can get them. There are many good families of origin retreats where you can go and “unlearn” what, you were taught living in your dysfunctional family (I give a few that I like in my book). And then I give a step-by-step process on how you can develop these skills. Once you learn to 1. Say No to others and Yes to yourself, 2. Make requests, 3. And speak authentically, I believe you will finally be able to come out from under the huge weight of codependency. At the risk of sounding like I am just promoting my book, I really am passionate about promoting your health. My book, which can be purchased for a little over $5 in digital format, can give you what you need to know to be healthier, wealthier, resentment-free, and the ability to passionately live the life you wanted. Why wouldn’t you want to start driving your own car without guilt?

Now if you take this thread of learning dysfunctional behaviors instead of healthy ones, can you see where denial has its roots? You must deny that there is anything wrong with the dysfunction so you now have denial of the burden and consequences and you have a high tolerance for self-abuse and self-neglect. You also must deny that healthy is healthy because how can you say no to taking care of the dysfunction. In my book, I describe a very poignant scene, for me, when an 11-year-old girl explained to me her father would come home drunk at 2 am with submarine sandwiches, wake her up (Mom must have declined to eat with Dad at this hour because he then went to his daughter), and they would eat together in the early morning hours. (She is cleaning his car and won’t have what she needs to drive hers in the morning.) When I said to her, “do you know other girls your age are not getting up at 2 am in the morning to eat with their Dad”, she answered, “I didn’t but I think you may be right”. Without intervention, you think this dysfunctional world you are raised in is the norm. You don’t have to carry this burden into your adult life. Take some action now, today, and say No to the burden of your family’s dysfunction and Yes to your Health!

“Never make yourself feel like nothing, to make someone else feel like everything.”

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