“One of the core characteristics of this disease of Codependence is intellectual polarization - black and white thinking. Rigid extremes - good or bad, right or wrong, love it or leave it, one or ten. Codependence does not allow any gray area - only black and white extremes.Life is not black and white. Life involves the interplay of black and white. In other words, the gray area is where life takes place. A big part of the healing process is learning the numbers two through nine - recognizing that life is not black and white.”
Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney
The “stinking thinking” of Codependency causes us to have a dysfunctional relationship with ourselves and others. These are some traits of that stinking thinking:
1. Black and White Thinking:
The disease comes from an absolute black and white, right/wrong, always and never perspective. “I will always be alone.” “I never get a break.” Any negative thing that happens gets turned into a sweeping generality.
2. Negative Focus:
The disease always wants to focus on the half of the glass that is empty and lament, rather than be grateful for what we have. Even if the glass is 7/8 ths full the disease can find some negative to focus on. (On the other extreme are some people who focus only on the good as a way of denying their feelings.)
3. Magical Thinking:
Mind reading, fortune telling, assuming - we think we can read other peoples minds and feelings, or foretell the future, and then act as if what we assume is the reality. We often create self-fulfilling prophecies this way.
4. Starring in the Soap Opera:
Blowing things out of proportion, playing the “King or Queen of tragedy.” Some of us are addicted to “Trauma Dramas” and want the excitement and intensity of dramatic scenes while others of us are terrified of conflict. It is quite common in codependent relationships to have one person who is over-indulgent and dramatic emotionally coupled with someone who wants to avoid conflict and emotions at all costs.
Inability to receive, or to admit to our own positive qualities or accomplishments. When someone gives us a compliment we minimize it (“Oh it was nothing”), make a joke out of it, or just ignore the compliment by changing the subject or turning the compliment back on the other person.
6. Emotional Reasoning:
Reasoning from feelings. “I feel like a failure therefore I am a failure.” Believing that what we feel is who we are without separating the inner child's feelings about what happened a long time ago from the adults feelings in the now.
“Shoulds,” “must,” “ought to,”and “have to” come from a parent or authority figure. “Should” means “I don’t want to but they are making me.” Adults don’t have shoulds - adults have choices.
Identifying with our shortcomings and mistakes, with our human imperfection, and calling ourself names like “stupid,” “loser,” “jerk,” or “fool” instead of accepting our humanity and learning from any mistakes or shortcomings.
9. Personalizing and Blame:
Blaming yourself for something you weren’t entirely responsible for, or for how someone else feels. Conversely, you may blame other people, external events, or fate, while overlooking how your own attitudes and behavior may have contributed to a problem.
As children we learned to blame others to keep from feeling the shame of being blamed. As adults we swing between blaming and self-blame - neither is the Truth. The answers lie in the gray area, in 2 through 9, not in the extremes.
The Rules for Being Human
1. You will receive a body.
2. You will learn lessons.
3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.
4. A lesson is repeated until learned.
5. Learning lessons does not end.
6. “There” is no better than “here”.
7. Others are merely mirrors for you.
8. What you make of your life is up to you.
9. Your answers lie inside you.
10. You will forget all this!