A souvenir of growing up in a family of addicts was consequently developing codependency issues. Identifying and communicating my feelings was practically impossible, and needing the approval of others was a must. I had self esteem issues for... well, who am I kidding... I still have them. I guess we all do.
It took years to break those negative patterns. I have learned to trust myself and my intuition, communicate and set healthier boundaries with others, and value myself over needing other people to like me.
Now, as a recovering codependent, I see it clearly in others. What I notice most is how obviously uncomfortable it is for them to have too many feelings. Perhaps 2 or 3 feelings are safe, but any further down the list of emotions can open subconscious trauma.
We are all emotional beings; we are literally wired with hormones that allow us to have emotions. So, finding your true emotions around the things that make you uncomfortable is key to working through them.
As a health coach, I believe it is important to not only delve into your feelings and learn healthy communication and boundaries, but also imperative to see who in your life has negative patterns that you want to break. And be willing to weed your garden.
Grant Me Serenity
Most people "stuff" their emotions, even when it is not necessary. It is just a habit. And it is trauma-based. For me, I never wanted to express hurt or disappointment toward someone for fear they would leave me. (Huge abandonment issues!) Often, this left me vulnerable to more hurt and disappointment. But at least they didn't leave me!
The sad fact is that I continued to experience this cycle of abuse for years from people - who were also traumatized. They did not know any better. But that did not help make my circumstances any different. Damaged people attract damaged people. Hurt people hurt people. Birds of a feather, and all that.
Basically, I was experiencing trauma.
Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes
Most of us have experienced trauma. Trauma lies on a spectrum. There can be the obvious and horrible examples - anything your mind deems abysmal. But trauma can also stem from small acts of hurtfulness. And no matter where someone lies on the spectrum, without help, they can reflect that trauma on to another - in big or small ways.
Looking back through my past relationships, I can see a pattern of people that greatly influenced my life. It's almost as if traumatized people were attracted to me. It wasn't until I began to heal my own trauma and shift the energy and influences in my life that helped put me on a path to healing. I learned how to see the patterns of people that I attracted.
This is important work to do if you want things to change! Let's take a closer look...
Who are your friends? Who do you follow on social media? To whom do you give your time and energy? Make a list. Now look at your list - those are the people who influence you.
Being honest with yourself about who influences you daily will give you a clearer picture of what you are reflecting back into the world. This then becomes who you are - or at least what others perceive about who you are.
As we begin to wake up and see the patterns of abuse and disrespect, we can then focus on our contribution to it.
Progress, Not Perfection
When I began to get honest with myself about who influenced me and how toxic those influences became, I was able to let go of my attachments to them. I also let myself grieve those relationships. Some of them were friends I had through major events in my life, and it was devastating for me to let go of them.
It is not easy to let go of the only source of support you have ever known. It is not easy to let go of people you have made excuses for, or given plenty of chances to, or even those that have done something for you that you feel a sense of debt towards. But hard choices have to be made in order to make change.
I have tripped and fallen many times in the process of healing. Grief always simultaneously hindered me in the moment and yet gave me insight going forward. Ultimately, the outcome was the same - the toxic relationship had to stop.
Feelings of shame, guilt, worry, frustration, despair - and mostly just sadness - were all there. And I had to allow myself to have them. Learning to communicate them and set healthier boundaries as a result of those emotions was important progress.
Courage to Change
Staying present in the now is the first step to healing. You cannot change what happened yesterday. You cannot know what will happen tomorrow. But you can be in the now. And there is where your power lies.
So, in this moment - assess what you value about yourself. Without this perspective, you give others more power over you than you have over yourself. This is important self-reflection. Here are some questions to get you thinking in terms of your value:
What do you value about yourself?
Why do you value those things?
When did you begin to value them?
How did you begin to value them?
Who were/are the influential people in your life that support what you value about yourself?
Does what you value about yourself reflect who you are to others? Is your list of influential people a positive reflection of you?
Admitting where you are in the moment is important. Seeing who influences you and how that reflects who you are can be life-changing. Are you were you want to be? No? Have courage! You can change things.
One Day at a Time
How do you break the cycles of your past?
How do you allow yourself space to feel?
How do you heal your trauma?
How can you become what you value?
One day at a time.
Be well, friends.