Interdependent people understand that we are all engaging in a lifelong process of learning and development and that people inherently do what they believe to be good in any given situation and that people are not necessarily bad, incompetent or ignorant. Interdependent’s understand that people have problems they don’t know how to solve or do not feel capable of solving. Interdependent people do not allow others to abuse or neglect them. They seek help when necessary if an important person in their life is engaging in self-destructive behavior. There are many 12 step groups like Al-Anon, ALA-Teen, CoDA, and others to help educate and empower people to be able to live an empowered, emotionally healthy, and balanced life when they are faced with the self-destructive habits of significant others in their lives.
Interdependent people have some of the following underlying belief structures:
- They believe when provided with the proper environment, resources, and opportunities most people are capable of change
- I am a capable person and I can learn what I need to know
- I would rather deal with the consequences of taking effective action than ignoring something and allowing it to escalate
- I am self-sufficient
- I do not need to stay in disempowering relationships or situations that will not change because I love myself and value myself
- If I am upset I am capable of providing myself with self-care or getting the help I need so I can continue to be involved in what is important to me
- I accomplish what is important to me
- I have worth because I exist
- I don’t need to control others, only my own responses
- As long as I am diligent in what is mine to do I can trust that life will turn out well
- If people don’t see me for who I am I still have worth in my own eyes
- If I am true to myself I will be a good example to those I love even if being true to myself creates discomfort for them
Common behavioral/emotional patterns of interdependent people:
- Feels like an empowered author of their lives
- Feels empowered through increasing ability to reflect, assess, and take action
- Forgives and lets go
- Is unwilling to endure verbal, mental, emotional, or physical abuse or neglect
- A developing sense of self-awareness and ability to recognize self destructive tendencies as they arise with an ability to redirect their own thoughts, emotions, and behavior
- Ability to accept recognition and appreciation for their accomplishments and contributions
- Ability to ask for and accept help
- Demonstrates a healthy and balanced assertion response
- Accepts responsibility for their own experiences and makes changes in their life when faced with dissatisfaction
- Works cooperatively with others and they do not need to control situations or people
- They seek to understand others and use the understanding to help relationships and situations transform and grow
- Completes important projects and activities despite setbacks
- Are able to set and back up healthy boundaries that are respectful to all parties
- Do not need the praise and recognition of others but are gracious in its receipt
- Participate in normal caretaking activities as is required
- Exhibits a quiet confidence when standing up for themselves
- Are able to face issues as they arise
REALITY AND RESPONSIBILITY TESTING
Helping clients get in touch with the deeper reality beyond their own knee jerk internal belief responses is really what helps a codependent see the potential they have been letting slip away. To test a codependents understanding ask questions that gets them to think about their situation:
- To what percent do you feel responsible for_________?
- What are you really responsible for here?
- What can you really control in this situation?
- Why do you believe that?
- What could you change about yourself that would change this situation?
- What does the best possible you look like in this situation?
- What if you yourself were the change agent here and that your responses made a real difference. If you saw yourself as powerful instead of powerless, what would you do?
- It seems like you are assuming that ___________can’t change. Is that true?
- What environment, resource, or opportunity do you think it would take for ______ to change?
- What if you made a more fundamental change than what you are proposing? What would that look like?
- Your options seem to be based on a belief that_____________. Is that working for you in this situation? How could you adjust that belief to create a different situation here?
- If you got really radical in this situation what would you do?
- What resources could you tap into to help you with this?
- Imagine you are 70 years old and you did nothing to challenge and change this situation, what would you regret the most?
- You’ve told me why you have avoided this situation. What is it costing you to continue to avoid this?
- What would you need to change in your attitude and responses for you to function at your best in the middle of this situation, even if the circumstances don’t change?
- What is this experience teaching you? What is the gift the pain brings?
- How could you use this experience to be a defining moment for you, where you rise up and engage it out of what you were made to be?
Most codependents and empaths have lost a sense of self and have deferred their own dreams and desires to support others in accomplishing what was important to the significant people in their life. The codependent may not even remember what they liked to do or what was important to them. Leading them into a self-discovery phase is an important part of helping codependents reclaim a life they want to live.
- What do you already know about what you were meant to do in life?
- How do you know that?
- What did you want to be when you were a child?
- Did you pursue that? Why or why not? Tell me what happened when you did or did not pursue that?
- If time and money were not an issue what would you do to bring you a sense of happiness and freedom?
- What roles and responsibilities do you enjoy? What brought you a feeling of vitality and joy? What drained you?
- What do you know is definitely NOT a part of your ideal role in life?
- What do those who know you best say you were born to do?
- What brings you joy?
- What are your most notable personality traits?
- What sense of purpose are you drawn to from your culture or community?
- What valuable experiences do you have that you can draw upon to accomplish your dreams?
- What 5 things feed your soul? How could you add these to your schedule?