Dear Dr. J

I just read the spiel on codependency and it basically describes me to a tee. This is not something I had thought of before. What can I do to start thinking about me more? I always feel that if I give me time or even talk about how I feel it is being selfish and that people are thinking "oh its all about her". It is not a real pleasant way to live and although I do love helping others I cannot help but feel it is at the expense of something else, maybe me. So, how does a codependent stop being a codependent?

Dear Cloey

You have not given me any details of your life situation, so I'll try to answer your question in a general does a codependent stop being a codependent!??

I take a holistic approach to this issue in therapy. First of all, women are programmed to believe that they are responsible for the relationships of the world!.....not taking responsibility for others is a key element. To "deprogram", one has to systematically explore areas of one's life and see what myths you are operating under, e.g., mothers should always sacrifice for their children; I would be a "bitch" not to run that errand for her....etc.

As you feel angry and taken advantage of, what is your "self talk"? For example, My friend needs me, I can't just say NO! If I don't go to the luncheon, Becky will be mad at me. These are all codependent statements. The definition of empowerment is to move through your world and handle each situation with confidence and kindness. Don't be held hostage by other people's feelings, needs, or manipulations.

Knowing yourself and what you want, being honest, saying "No", setting appropriate boundaries all take practice. Family of origin work is also a part of the picture because you started to learn to be codependent in your family.

I suggest you take advantage of the resources on the website. Look at personal responsibility, codependency, and the book reviews for Melodie Beattie's two books, Codependent No More and Beyond Codependency. Order them and use them to guide you in exploring your codependency. Another option would be to start therapy. In the meantime, instead of using the word, "selfish", substitute "self-nurturing"'s a start! .

Dr. J

Taking Personal Responsibility

Book Reviews: Codependent No More and Beyond Codependency, Melody Beattie