Caring Less About Abandonment
The natural direction of psychological growth is toward discovery of uniqueness and self-rule. When this process threatens families, people must abandon desires for self-definition and independence to avoid abandonment by caretakers at too early an age. This rejection of self- sufficiency becomes a vicious cycle of transferring power to others (that had to be given to caretakers), and trying to gain strength from others that is imagined to be lacking in oneself. By losing all sense of self-support, people seek attachment and believe that their problems can be resolved only if others change. Six or more items marked in either column below suggest that the self has become a clinging vine instead of the freestanding individual it was meant to be.
(Starred items suggest the well-publicized problem of co-dependency. At the time of this publication, the American Psychiatric Association had not listed separate criteria for this pattern of behavior.)
ORIGIN OF PROBLEMS
THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE
Disagreeing with or letting go of others can be frightening. You may literally feel you will die on your own. For some people, the only way to become freestanding is to live alone and discover the universe of friends and organizations that are ready to offer support. One’s (true) self can only be found through a variety of experiences. The goal is interdependence in which time is spent apart to discover interests and values that can later be shared with others. Dependent or erratic people often feel powerless, frustrated, or resentful. Use these reactions to identify the thoughts that actually cause your distress and limit you.
Directions: Mark any thoughts you get about yourself or others in your worst moments. Then, identify beliefs you would like to have and affirm these new ideas regularly.
Turn Defeating Thoughts into
Beliefs That Promote Change
I can’t, . . . shouldn’t have to . . .
I can take care of and speak up for myself.
I’m not able to . . .
I can succeed step by step.
I’m helpless, powerless or trapped.
I have choices now. I can recover.
I can’t stand it or handle it.
I can stand it, handle it, and trust myself.
I cannot show emotions.
I can show emotion, ask, and set limits.
I don’t matter. Others come first.
I can decide what’s right for the situation.
If others leave me, I’m flawed.
I can start over when relationships end.
I can’t find love, caring, or a purpose
I can find love, caring, and a purpose.
People are all good or all bad.
Each person has both good and bad qualities.
I am empty, alone, or abandoned.
I’m fulfilled, connected. I belong.
It will be easier to identify your defeating thoughts by intentionally creating situations that bring them to the surface. Pick any of the following exercises that sound hard or distasteful. Find a family member or friend to be your coach.