Central to our wellbeing is knowing that we are okay - that we are worthy, adequate, and lovable. Feeling that we are okay can come from two different sources:
Codependency is the term used to describe the addiction to feeling okay through others.
She believes that her happiness comes from others giving her love, attention, and approval.
"Sara, what do you tell yourself when you receive attention and approval from others?"
"I tell myself that I'm okay - that their approval means that I'm okay."
"And what do you tell yourself when others are disapproving of you or distant from you?"
"I tell myself that I'm not okay."
"And how do you feel when you tell yourself that you are okay?"
"I feel happy."
"And what do you feel when you tell yourself that you are not okay?"
"I feel miserable."
"It sounds like you really believe that it is others' approval that makes you happy or unhappy, rather than what you are telling yourself others' approval means about you. Is it possible that telling yourself that you are okay is what makes you happy, rather than other's attention and approval? And is it possible that telling yourself that you are not okay is what makes you feel badly, rather than others’ disapproval?"
"I never thought of it like that. I just know that I feel happy when I get the approval and attention and upset when I don't."
"Right, and you believe that your happiness is a result of others' behavior rather than a result of what you are telling yourself about others' behavior. And as a result of this belief, you are constantly pulling on others for their approval in many ways. You are constantly handing your inner child over to others and then blaming them when they don't give you the attention you want. Is that right?"
"Yes, I'm often angry and irritated at others, especially my husband and my manager."
"Yes, I've always believed this. But I'm working with you because this is not working. I'm not happy so much of the time."
"Right, because the truth is that whether or not you feel happy and okay comes from what you tell yourself about yourself. Instead of getting to know your soul, your intrinsic worth, you have learned to think you are your wounded self and that you are intrinsically not okay. You often judge yourself as not okay, especially when you are not getting the attention and approval you want - is that right?"
"Yes, I do that a lot. And I always feel awful when I do that."
"And you said that you feel good when you tell yourself that you are okay, right?"
"Right. But I only tell myself this when others like me."
"Yes, and this is what is causing you to feel unhappy a lot. Until you decide to define your intrinsic worth through the eyes of your spiritual guidance rather than through the eyes of others, you will not feel that you are okay. You are rejecting your beautiful essence, your true self - the loving, creative, talented, funny, caring, intelligent and passionate part of yourself. You believe you are your wounded self - your scared, angry, insecure, controlling self. How can you feel anything other than unhappy when you are rejecting who you really are with your self-judgments and instead handing your inner child to others to define as okay and worthy?"
"Okay, I think I see what you are saying. You know, I never saw this before.” Sara became reflective and the light bulb went on. “Wow! It's really not others who are making me happy or unhappy! It's what I'm telling myself! I just never saw this before!"
Sara started to practice taking her eyes off others and just noticing what she was telling herself and how she was treating herself. As a result of keeping her eyes on her own inner process, she stopped blaming others, which led to her relationships quickly improving. Suddenly she was getting the love, attention, and approval she had always wanted, except now it was the icing on the cake rather than the cake itself. The cake was having learned to love herself and define her own worth.
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