Have you reached saturation point yet? Maybe you don’t know you’re there yet because you’ve been living – or existing – this way for so long that you are uncomfortably unaware that there might be an alternative. I’m here to tell you that there is – an alternative way of being, of reacting, of behaving… of feeling.
If you keep on giving and giving and giving to your partner and feeling worse about yourself by the day (whether that’s financially, physically, sexually, whatever), to friends and/or family, this all takes its toll on your emotional strength until eventually you’re zapped… and you snap. Where there are givers, so there will be takers. Thus sayeth the law of give and take, cost and reward. But what you need to figure out is… What are the pay-offs for you in staying miserable? What are you actually getting from this? Often we think that we are giving without reward; only cost to ourselves. We are playing the martyr. The costs are, of course, more obvious – sleepless nights, appetite changes, anxiety, depression, self-medication using alcohol or food (or other drugs) to make you ‘feel better’ by blocking out the pain and anxiety.. only leading to more pain and anxiety. But how could there possibly be rewards for all of this hard emotional labour? This sounds like garbage, right? I thought so too until I examined my own pay-offs for ‘overcaring’. I got to stay in my familiar place – the place I grew up in on the inside – there is comfort in discomfort, for many of us. At least we know that place – feeling free of anxiety, free from others’ expectations of us, free from others’ opinions of us, free of obligation, free of the responsibility for others’ happiness… that’s unfamiliar and more uncomfortable; more apposite than their opposite. And somewhere along the way, the growing up on the inside kinda stopped short.
For many of us in recovery from ‘overcaring’, we come to realise that, although we appear like fully-functioning adults and able to juggle many responsibilities, the truth is that we have some kind of arrested emotional development. The music stopped inside at a certain age. So how do we move away from saturation point and begin to grow up? Without some kind of external input, this process will invariably be slower and self-awareness is absolutely paramount in this process. Recognising that you’ve had enough – that you’re all out of love (almost) – is a good start. From there, the journey begins… to retrace the steps to your authentic self. What does your authentic self really want? From my own experience both as an ‘overcarer’ and a recovery coach, when we get down to it, material things don’t matter. They will never fill the void inside which has existed for all of us who give too much. The road to recovery begins with the first step to self-love. I love and respect myself. I am good enough. Powerful words when you say them aloud. Even more powerful when you say them and begin to believe them. That takes practice.
Are you willing to begin your practice and start to find that love you’ve been searching for?
How can we truly love another when we don't love ourselves first and foremost?
We seem to take it for granted that the word "love" is understood to mean the same thing for all people. But what if you've been brought up in a chaotic household? What if "love" had conditions attached to it? "If you behave in this way, then you are worthy of my love...". Those beliefs often go unquestioned right into adulthood and so the way we relate to others will invariably have some aspect of this to it. It could be that we're drawn to those who attach conditions to their love... It could also be that we attach conditions to our love. At the heart of these controlling and manipulative behaviours is fear... and, as a codependent, searching around for crumbs of affection is the norm. Trying to get people to like you by over-caring... by being the best partner/lover/friend/daughter/ son/workmate etc, we stand a chance of securing love. Is that true?
When we don't love ourselves, first and foremost, a huge chasm is felt inside and someone who experiences codependency will attempt to fill it by giving their all to someone - or something - leaving nothing for themselves. Low self-esteem, a lack of self-confidence and little or no self-belief are symptomatic of this behaviour.
What one thing could you do for yourself today?
Try one of the affirmations in this photo, as an "I am.."
"I am awesome!"
"I am appreciated!"
"I am loved!"
"I am enough!"
"I have enough!"
How does that feel? If you're having trouble even saying this, let alone believing it, maybe you could benefit from recovery coaching and start to work on your most important relationship - the one you have with yourself. In relearning love and letting go of conditions (the opposite of being a doormat!), your life becomes more joyful and less stressful, as you become more accepting of others and begin to let go of the need to control.
I would urge you to see your Doctor (if you haven't already) if you are feeling overwhelmed and have considered hurting yourself - or others.