Bringing Codependency Recovery Pioneer to the UK in 2017

 

Robert Burney Trip to UK 2017

Book cover

Robert Burney is an author, spiritual teacher and counselor.  His first book “Codependence – The Dance of Wounded Souls” has been called “one of the truly transformational works of our time” and he has been referred to as “a metaphysical Stephen Hawking.”   He is a counselor /coach and Spiritual Teacher whose work has been compared to John Bradshaw’s “except much more spiritual” and described as “taking inner child healing to a new level.”  His book “The Dance”  is an insightful, clearly written narrative that has helped countless people to understand and heal from the shortcomings of their relationships with self and others.  Robert’s work resonates strongly with those that have been fortunate enough to come across it.

Codependency Recovery / Inner Child Healing Formula

A pioneer in the realm of codependency recovery and inner child healing, Robert discovered and developed a pioneering holistic approach to codependency recovery – an inner child healing paradigm – that offers a powerful, life changing formula for integrating Love, Spiritual Truth, and intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior into one’s emotional experience of life – a blueprint for individuals to transform their core relationship with self and life.

This blueprint can be invaluable to people just starting the recovery / healing process, and is often the missing piece that people who have been healing /  recovering / on a spiritual path for decades have been seeking.  What is unique about the approach is that all of the tools are brought together in a focused system for achieving integration and balance – and even someone who has a very good therapist (or is a very good therapist) right now, can still find it very beneficial to attend one of his workshops.

Creating the Possibility of bringing Robert Burney to the UK

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Robert Burney

In order to share his experience, strength and hope – and teach others his integration formula – Robert has offered intensive workshops and retreats in the US, Canada, and twice on the Spanish Island of Ibiza, as well as on cruises in the Caribbean.  In spite of having a healthy following in the United Kingdom Robert has not physically presented his work in a similar fashion.

Several years ago Angel Morrison (who had both attended a retreat in Ibiza and been on a cruise with Robert) suggested the idea of working to bring Robert Burney to the UK.  Angel understood the importance of expanding the knowledge of Robert’s work.  Rachel Hawadi who had read Robert’s work (and done phone counseling with him) agreed and the two agreed to volunteer and commit to making this a reality.  This has then given birth to a Facebook Group which aims “To make the possibility of bringing Robert Burney to the UK” in 2017.

As of February 14th, 2017, initial plans are being formulated.  The goal is to make this trip happen in September 2017.  This page is being created to survey people who might be interested in meeting and/or attending an appearance by Robert, to ascertain what formats people would like to have available and where it would be best to offer these opportunities.

Location

It is assumed that London would be one of the locations – and both Birmingham and Nottingham have been proposed by people interested.  Email us to let us know if you could attend in London or want to suggest another location in the UK.

Formats

In order to make the best use of Robert’s time the following mixture of sessions could be offered during the tour.

  • 1 to 1 sessions: These could either be face to face/Telephone and Skype sessions for those in the UK.   Depending on availability these can be 1 hour sessions.   Given that the unique selling point of this tour is being able to see Robert face to face it would seem that a “face to face” would be the main offering.

  • Weekend Retreat: A residential retreat in a comfortable, peaceful setting starting on Friday with a 6:30 arrival, dinner and a session until 10 pm.  An intensive session on Saturday which would end on Sunday around 4 pm.  It would be important to ensure that those attending have excellent food and a general feeling of being cared for.

  • 5-day Retreat: A transformative retreat for those needing a radical overhaul in a similar setting as the weekend retreat but going deeper with more workshops, 1 to 1 sessions.  The setting will also be comfortable and nurturing.   There should be an additional offering of holistic therapies e.g. massages, reflexology, yoga, deep breathing, walks etc.

  • 1 day Intensive workshops: These would follow the exact same formats that have been offered and could be done both during the day or evening.  More than likely, evening sessions could be more successful in London – although it would need to be for 3 evenings in order for Robert to teach the formula that he teaches in his Intensive Workshops.  There might be a requirement to juggle between different towns in the UK.

Please send us some feedback so that we can ascertain the amount of interest and what people are interested in so that we can know if we can make this possibility manifest this year.  Email us to let us know.

Here is some of the feedback from the Intensive Training Workshops / retreats that Robert has done in the past.

“I found this session to be very useful in seeing the what & the why of “my” reality.  The understanding I have gained gives me hope in my future.  This has been the greatest gift I have ever given myself.”

“I really enjoyed Robert Burney’s Intensive Training on inner child work. . .  I had many revelations about my inner child and how I can reparent and stop the critical parent that has followed me my whole life. . . Thank you so much Robert.  You are a truly unforgetable person. So glad I said yes to attending.”

“Exceptionally understandable; very clear.  This was LIFE Changing – I am so thankful.  I would Absolutely recommend it.”

“Robert Burney’s training day was so inspirational and enlightening.  He was loving and warm and presented profound life changing material in a very not intimidating way.  Magical!”

“My life has been much better since I went to your seminar.”

“Brilliant.  Liberating.  So profound it is sometimes ! hilarious  I feel you completely get the dynamics of the human experience and the truth you teach can set people free.”

“It was very empowering, uplifting and gave me new hope.  The information was invaluable.”

“Robert is a very , compassionate intuitive, and intelligent soul who shares his insights to you in such a clear, fun, and poignant way that your life will be forever changed.” –  Testimonial Page for Robert Burney Seminar

Email us to let us know if you are interested.

Sacred Spiral

The key to codependency recovery is the inner child healing work I describe on my site:   A key element of that work includes learning to set internal boundaries.  The formula that I pioneered for inner healing – which includes learning to set the internal boundaries –  is something that I teach people through telephone counseling   (It is now possible to get phone cards for very cheap rates from many places in the world – and also to use Skype for free from anywhere.)  I talk about how the phone counseling can work to really change a persons life for the better in a short period of time on this page which includes some special combination offers.

Reading my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls  (links to all of my books in hard copy, ebook, and audiobook format are on that page – or you can get Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks through Amazon) would really help you take your understanding to a whole new level.  Understanding codependency is vital in helping us to forgive our self for the dysfunctional ways we have lived our lives – it is not our fault we are codependent.

In the last few years I have also published two more books that can be very helpful. Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing and Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth.  I have special offers for either or both of these books (or for all three of my books) on this page.

I also offer periodic day long workshops to teach people how to apply my inner child healing formula.   (There is now a downloadable MP3 recording available of my Life Changing workshop  – and I have a page with special offers for both the workshop recording and an MP3 download of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls. )

Codependency causes us to feel like the victim of our own thoughts and feelings, and like our own worst enemy – recovery helps us to start learning how to be our own best friend.  Getting into codependency recovery is an act of love for self.

Chapter 5: Codependency = conditioned reactive programming ~ Pavlov’s Dog

Dr. Ivan Pavlov, a professor of physiology (the science of organic functions/processes,) won the Noble Prize in Medicine in 1904 for his study of the physiology of digestion. His study of the physiological process of digestion in dogs led him to studying the link between digestion and the autonomic nervous system. He found that he could train dogs to associate the ringing of a bell with food so that they would start salivating – which gave the stomach the message to start the digestive process – every time a bell would ring. Thus the term “Pavlov’s dog” entered language referring to conditioned reflexes that are learned as opposed to innate and natural.

The work of Dr. Pavlov formed the foundation for work of psychologist’s such as B.F. Skinner, who studied and refined his theories and in the process founded the field of behavioral psychology.

This branch of psychology ignores the unconscious which traditional psychoanalysis focused upon, in favor of behavior modification. Behavior modification uses positive or negative reinforcement to train animals or people to change their behavior into that which is more acceptable to whomever has power over that animal or person.

Behavior modification techniques are used extensively in institutions – prisons, mental hospitals, juvenile facilities – to control behavior and attempt to change behavior patterns.

Some years ago, I worked for a period of time in a Boys Home that employed behavior modification techniques. As much as I needed the money at that time, I couldn’t do the work for long (although long enough to be able to afford to buy my first computer.) It broke my heart to see wounded boys being treated like animals who needed to be trained.

Unfortunately in a dysfunctional society, behavior modification has it’s place because the medical and mental health systems are out of balance and dysfunctional.

The Dance

“Our mental health system not only does not promote healing – it actually blocks the process. The mental health system in this country is designed to get your behavior and emotions under control so that you can fit back into the dysfunctional system.” – Text in this color is used for quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

That a person’s behavior doesn’t fit into the accepted norms of the dysfunctional society is identified as the problem that needs to be changed. The underlying causes of that symptomatic behavior are not really addressed in institutions that structure their programs to rely on behavior modification techniques.

Behavior modification can be functional in terms of bringing about a temporary change in a person’s behavior but unless the causes are addressed there is no real fundamental healing that takes place. Psychoanalysis focused upon an intellectual understanding of cause – and it is ultimately dysfunctional because emotional healing is not a component of the work.

“What the researchers were beginning to understand was how profoundly the emotional trauma of early childhood affects a person as an adult. They realized that if not healed, these early childhood emotional wounds, and the subconscious attitudes adopted because of them, would dictate the adult’s reaction to, and path through, life. Thus we walk around looking like and trying to act like adults, while reacting to life out of the emotional wounds and attitudes of childhood. We keep repeating the patterns of abandonment, abuse, and deprivation that we experienced in childhood.

Psychoanalysis addressed these issues only on the intellectual level – not on the emotional healing level. As a result, a person could go to psychoanalysis weekly for twenty years and still be repeating the same behavior patterns.”

Focusing on symptoms and intellectual understanding while discounting the emotional trauma at the core of the programming, are manifestations of the dysfunctional perspectives of codependent cultures. Emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional cultures do not produce medical and mental health systems that are holistic – that treat the whole person.

I will discuss in more detail in later chapters the emotional component of human beings and the dysfunction that is manifested in human systems – including medical and mental health – at all levels by the false beliefs and masculine feminine imbalance caused by planetary conditions. The main point I want to make in this chapter, is that codependency is an effect of behavior modification.

Sacred SpiralCodependency = conditioned reactive programming

Awakening from the bondage of ego programming

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder / Brainwashing / Behavior Modification / Conditioned Reflex

Codependency is a conditioned reflex. It is a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Codependence as Delayed Stress Syndrome.)  It is an effect of brainwashing, the result of behavior modification. Codependency is condition, or dis-ease, that is caused by environmental conditions and conditioning rather than a phenomena which is genetic or innate to human nature. (Disease = a disturbance in a natural process, an abnormal condition which disturbs normal organic structural integrity / process.)

The forms of behavior modification that cause codependency are both intentional and unintentional. Parents use some behavior modification techniques in teaching children how to behave. These are not inherently bad or wrong in and of themselves. Some of them may be useful tools in teaching social and survival skills to children. The intentional behavior modification techniques can also be abusive depending upon the intellectual paradigm / beliefs that are providing the standards for judging what behavior is acceptable. (i.e. If a parent believes that children should be seen and not heard they will be abusive in attempting to get the child to behave “properly.” On the opposite end of the reactive codependent spectrum, a parent who does not want to abuse their children in the ways they experienced in childhood, will often go to the other extreme, giving the children too much power and not setting proper boundaries for their behavior – this is a form of unintentional behavior modification and is also abusive.)

It is the unintentional behavior modification that is normally the most damaging. I spoke of the most powerful form of unintentional behavior modification in the third chapter of this work – role modeling.

“The single most important influence in the development of a person’s relationship with their own emotions is role modeling. Mom and Dad were our primary role models for how a male emotional being and female emotional being behave, for how they relate to, and express, their emotions. (As well as for how male and female relate to each other.) The cultural role models that we were exposed to – through books, movies, television, etc., – play an important factor also, but our primary role models were our parents.

The direct messages we got – both verbal (big boys don’t cry, little ladies don’t get angry, there is nothing to be afraid of, etc.) and behavioral (punishment for expressing emotions) – and indirect messages (the ways we interpreted and internalized the behavior of other people – parents, teachers, peers, etc. – as being personal punishment, as being our fault) we got both from our parents and from society play a part in that development, but role modeling has the greatest impact.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 3: Emotional Honesty

“If a culture is based on emotional dishonesty, with role models that are dishonest emotionally, then that culture is also emotionally dysfunctional, because the people of that society are set up to be emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional in getting their emotional needs met.

What we traditionally have called normal parenting in this society is abusive because it is emotionally dishonest. Children learn who they are as emotional beings from the role modeling of their parents. “Do as I say – not as I do,” does not work with children. Emotionally dishonest parents cannot be emotionally healthy role models, and cannot provide healthy parenting.”

Both intentional and unintentional behavior modification experiences play a part in creating codependency. A codependent society – that discounts the emotional and spiritual components of a human’s being and evaluates worth based upon external conditions (money, property, and prestige) and comparison to others (prettier than, smarter than, etc.) within a polarized (black/white, right/wrong) framework that defines wrong as shameful – conditions the people who grow up in that society to feel ashamed of their feelings and their humanity.

We were conditioned to “keep up appearances,” to keep our defectiveness secret. What would the neighbors think? Keep the family secrets – deny the elephant in the living room. (Referring to a metaphor about the power of denial in alcoholic families – denying the effect that alcoholism has on a family is like ignoring an elephant standing in the middle of the living room.)

We saw how our parents denied reality – and how much power they gave to what other people thought (or came from a family that lived the other extreme of rebellion and flaunting outrageous behavior in which case we felt ashamed because our family was different) – and we formed attitudes and beliefs based upon what we were feeling and hearing, seeing and experiencing. The reality we experienced in our homes – which were supposed to be our sanctuaries – was the only reality we knew. Those environments were where we learned how to live life and how to relate to other people. The conditions in our families dictated the behavior modification we experienced and internalized.

“We grew up having to deny the emotional reality: of parental alcoholism, addiction, mental illness, rage, violence, depression, abandonment, betrayal, deprivation, neglect, incest, etc. etc.; of our parents fighting or the underlying tension and anger because they weren’t being honest enough to fight; of dad’s ignoring us because of his workaholism and/or mom smothering us because she had no other identity than being a mother; of the abuse that one parent heaped on another who wouldn’t defend him/herself and/or the abuse we received from one of our parents while the other wouldn’t defend us; of having only one parent or of having two parents who stayed together and shouldn’t have; etc., etc.

We grew up with messages like: children should be seen and not heard; big boys don’t cry and little ladies don’t get angry; it is not okay to be angry at someone you love – especially your parents; god loves you but will send you to burn in hell forever if you touch your shameful private parts; don’t make noise or run or in any way be a normal child; do not make mistakes or do anything wrong; etc., etc.

We were born into the middle of a war where our sense of self was battered and fractured and broken into pieces. We grew up in the middle of battlefields where our beings were discounted, our perceptions invalidated, and our feelings ignored and nullified.

The war we were born into, the battlefield each of us grew up in, was not in some foreign country against some identified “enemy” – it was in the “homes” which were supposed to be our safe haven with our parents whom we Loved and trusted to take care of us. It was not for a year or two or three – it was for sixteen or seventeen or eighteen years.

We experienced what is called “sanctuary trauma” – our safest place to be was not safe – and we experienced it on a daily basis for years and years. Some of the greatest damage was done to us in subtle ways on a daily basis because our sanctuary was a battlefield.

It was not a battlefield because our parents were wrong or bad – it was a battlefield because they were at war within, because they were born into the middle of a war. By doing our healing we are becoming the emotionally honest role models that our parents never had the chance to be. Through being in Recovery we are helping to break the cycles of self-destructive behavior that have dictated human existence for thousands of years.

Codependence is a very vicious and powerful form of Delayed Stress Syndrome.”

Sacred Spiralrelationships horizontal and vertical

It is the nature of organisms of every living species on the planet to survive and propagate. The definition of “organism” is “an animal or plant internally organized to maintain vital functions.” (New Illustrated Webster’s Dictionary, 1992) (I also believe that the planet Earth itself is a living organism – Gaia – but that is another discussion.)

There is some element within all living things that strives for survival. The higher up the evolutionary ladder an organism is, the more mental capacity it displays. This mental capacity – intelligence – gives it the ability to process information and adjust it’s behavior to maximize chances for survival.

The vital difference between human beings and even the most intelligent of animals is consciousness. Consciousness for human beings includes not only a capacity for self awareness – the ability to have a conscious relationship with self – but also a consciousness of something larger than self. This consciousness of something larger than self is what has driven human beings throughout history to seek some kind of supernatural force / higher power which gives meaning and purpose to life beyond mere survival.

“Codependence and recovery are both multi-leveled, multi-dimensional phenomena. It is very easy for me to write hundreds of pages about any single aspect of codependence and recovery – what is very difficult and painful is to write a short column. No facet of this topic is linear and one-dimensional, so there is no simple answer to any one question – rather there are a multitude of answers to the same question, all of which are True on some level.

So in order to facilitate writing a short column on this month’s topic, I am going to make a brief point about two dimensions of this phenomena in relationship to empowerment. These two dimensions are the horizontal and the vertical. In this context the horizontal is about being human and relating to other humans and our environment. The vertical is Spiritual – about our relationship to the God-Force. Codependence is at it’s core a Spiritual disease and the only way out of it is through a Spiritual cure – so any recovery, any empowerment, depends upon Spiritual awakening.” – Empowerment

“We are not animals – not that there is anything wrong with being an animal – but we have a consciousness of something larger, something beyond ourselves. We have a memory of some other place – of some place kinder and gentler and more Loving.

We are Spiritual Beings.”

As I say in this quote from my book, there is certainly nothing wrong with animals. Animals are a perfect part of the conscious living energy that is The Great Spirit. They are connected to the Spirit just as humans are. Your dog or cat or horse or whatever, may in fact be a part of your Self. Everything is part of the energy of ALL THAT IS. Everyone and everything is experiencing the Spiritual Evolutionary process. All human beings in reality have experienced not only being animals, but being part of the elemental forces of the planet.

“You have experienced being wind, rain, and fire as well as mineral, plant, and animal and can in special moments access emotional memories of those experiences. So you are not crazy for feeling at One with a tree or a bird or a speck on the wall.” – The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy History of the Universe Part I

I am not going to get into metaphysics or quantum physics in this chapter. I just want to make the point, that believing that one can communicate with the spirit of a loved animal – either alive or dead – is not necessarily crazy. That animals spirit may be some aspect of your Self that you have manifested in this life to help your self in your journey of Spiritual Awakening.

I am going address the phenomena of consciousness in relationship to the horizontal human experience – consciousness of self – in the remainder of this chapter and the vertical, Spiritual component, consciousness of Self in the next chapter.

(For anyone who has issues, is triggered, by references to spirituality or a higher power, please stick with me long enough to investigate what I have to say in the coming chapters – or you can check out my web pages Spirituality for Agnostics and Atheists or spiritual integration by clicking on these links. It is important to start awakening to how our childhood experiences have impacted our lives, so if the term Spiritual Awakening is causing you problems, think of it as what it also is, an intellectual awakening – an expansion of awareness.)

In a holistic approach to healing, it is vital to address both dimensions for a multitude of reasons. The most important in terms of this chapter, has to do with innate reflexes as opposed to conditioned reflexes. On the horizontal level, the innate programming for human beings carries the same priority for humans as does the innate programming of animals – survival. On the vertical level, survival is not the first priority. Our first priority on the vertical, in relationship to our Source – as Spiritual beings having a human experience – is to reconnect with Love, with our Source.

The survival programming that is innate to our nature as human animals in relationship to the horizontal has been in conflict with our vertical, Spiritual yearning to return home to Love – because planetary conditions caused the illusion that we were disconnected from our Source. This conflict has been at the core of the human dilemma. Planetary conditions have changed in a significant manner in recent history, making it possible for the first time in recorded human history for us to start learning how to integrate the vertical into the horizontal.

“A Transformational Healing Process has begun on the planet Earth. Due to a profound change that has taken place in the energy field of Collective Human Emotional Consciousness, resources are now available to us to do healing that has never before been possible in recorded human history. Human beings now, for the first time, have the capacity to directly address the core issues of the human dilemma.”

The purpose of codependency recovery and inner child healing is to clear up our relationship with the horizontal – with self and how we relate to everything and everyone in our human environment – so that we can learn how to integrate the Spiritual into the physical and bring some balance and higher meaning to this human dance we are doing. We are here in body at this time to manifest Love into this human experience. We cannot do that without first learning how to access Love for our self. In order to do that, it is necessary to awaken to how the environments we grew up in conditioned us to live life in a way that is dysfunctional in relationship to the Spiritual / vertical component of our being – in a way that does not work to help us reconnect with Love.

Sacred SpiralAnimals are trained – Human Beings are emotionally traumatized

Dr. Pavlov showed that repeatedly ringing a bell right before feeding a dog could result in a conditioned reflex. That a dog could be programmed in a way that caused an alteration in the dog’s internal processes, in it’s relationship with eating. He also showed that if the dog experienced the bell ringing without being fed enough times, it would revert to it’s normal digestive processes. In other words, conditioned reflexes can be unlearned.

This true in human beings also – which makes recovery from codependency possible. However the process – both of the programming and of recovery from the programming – is much more complicated and complex in human beings.

Human beings are only in part animal. Human beings are a composite of four essential elements / dimensions of being. Those four are components are mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Mind, body, and soul are three parts of a four part equation.

Animals do not have the intellectual capacity to define themselves in relationship to their environment. They do not have consciousness of self. Animals are not capable of self awareness. They live life in reaction to innate and/or conditioned reflexes / instincts.

Human beings have the ability to define self individually in relationship to their environment. Human beings have the capacity to remember the past and envision the future. Human beings have a relationship with self that is defined by their perspective of self in relationship to life, to other human beings, to everything in their environment. The quality of this relationship to both self and external stimuli is characterized as the person’s self worth or self esteem.

An animal does not have a sense of, or capacity for, such a relationship with self. Animals do not have self worth. Animals just are. They live in the moment being perfectly the animal that they are. Their life experiences – the intentional or unintentional behavior modification that life brings their way – can alter, distort, change their reactions to their innate reflexes / instincts but they adapt and go on surviving / maintaining their vital functions.

A dog can be abused so that it cringes and grovels – or so that it attacks and kills – but these are conditioned reflexes that are expansions of / adaptations of / distortions of their innate natural reflexes / instincts. A dog in the right environment can unlearn these conditioned reflexes over time. It does not cringe and grovel because it has low self worth, or attack and kill because it believes it is better than whatever life form it is attacking – it is reacting to distortions of it’s natural instincts. The behavior modification training it has been subjected to, the conditioning that it has experienced, has taught it to react in a certain way to certain stimuli (the ringing bell) in alignment with it’s survival reflexes.

Animals with higher intelligence can also have distinct, individual personalities and a capacity for emotional attachment. Animals have the capacity for emotional reaction.

Dogs are certainly capable of emotional reaction and attachment. And this emotional attachment can be so great that it will sacrifice it’s survival for the person / people it has that attachment to – but this is true rather the dog has been treated lovingly or abusively because part of it’s innate reflex programming is loyalty to it’s pack, which is part of it’s survival programming. Dogs have been selectively bred for centuries to see humans as their pack leaders. Dogs have been bred to be codependent upon humans – to see humans as their higher powers.

(This brings to mind an old joke. God made dogs to be a companion to humans. After a period of time, one of the angels came to God and said, “We have a problem. The human beings experience the dogs behavior and look into the dogs eyes and start thinking that they are god.” God said, “Well, I’ll fix that.” And God created cats.;-)

A dog who was abused as a puppy will cringe and shrink back (somewhat similar to internal feeling which causes the classic codependent form of codependency) or snarl and bite (one of the counterdependent flavors of codependency) when anyone attempts to touch it. This is a conditioned reflex. This can be seen as the result of emotional abuse, but it is not the result of the animal having a damaged self image.

An animal can be emotionally abused, but it does not have a conscious relationship with self that can be affected by that emotional abuse. When a human being is emotionally abused (and any type of abuse – physical, sexual, verbal – is also emotionally abusive Emotional abuse is Heart and Soul Mutilation) it is traumatizing because of the effect it has on the being’s relationship with self. It is because humans have the capacity for self awareness that emotional trauma has such a huge impact on our lives.

For a human being, any kind of abuse is doubly traumatic. The abuse itself – and the effect that the abuse has on the person’s relationship with self, their self image. The effects of childhood abuse are more long lasting and traumatic than the incidents of abuse in and of themselves. The capacity which human beings have for self awareness – a relationship with / perspective of self – dictates that any emotional trauma suffered in early childhood, when we are forming the foundation of our relationship with self, is internalized and integrated into our perspective of self. That core relationship with self then dictates how we relate to life and other people.

Emotional trauma directly affects one’s relationship with self – ones self worth and self image. Emotional trauma is internalized and becomes a part of the emotional, behavioral defense system adapted by the element of a human’s being that is responsible for helping a human survive on a horizontal level – the ego.

Ego – consciousness of self

The ego is the part of our being whose job it is to help us survive. It is a part of our internal structure that is organized to maintain vital functions, that fights for survival. It is the ego that defines our relationship with self according to it’s survival programming and to the conditioning it experienced in early childhood. The ego is the part of us which determines our perspective of self – our self image.

A dog who was abused as a puppy can unlearn their conditioned reflexes by spending enough time in a safe and loving environment. Although a safe and loving environment can be very valuable to a human being who is healing from their childhood wounding – the emotional trauma they experienced because of behavior modification experiences in early childhood – love from external sources is not enough to heal a person’s relationship with self.

“It is necessary to own and honor the child who we were in order to Love the person we are. And the only way to do that is to own that child’s experiences, honor that child’s feelings, and release the emotional grief energy that we are still carrying around.”

Intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior, experiences of a spiritual nature, faith in a Loving Higher Power, can help a person change their relationship with other people and life to a certain degree. It will not however, change the way a person reacts in the relationships that mean the most to them – it will not help them to open their heart to love and to being loved on the most intimate levels. Romantic relationships are the arena where our buttons get pushed, where our deepest wounds are triggered – which activates our emotional defenses.

We are not capable of having a Truly healthy romantic relationship, a Loving emotionally intimate relationship with another human being, until we start healing our childhood wounds in relationship to the trauma we experienced from the people we first opened our hearts to. Our parents were our first loves – and we were wounded in our relationships with them because they were wounded. We internalized and incorporated the conditioning from those initial experiences of opening our hearts to emotional intimacy into our relationship with self.

It is not our relationship with our parents that we need to heal in order to open to Love, it is our relationship with our self – the self image we formed because of our relationships with them. The healing we need to do is internal, in our relationship with self. Our ego adapted defenses to protect us in the environment we grew up in. In order to change our relationship with self we need to change our childhood ego programming.

“Codependence is an emotional and behavioral defense system which was adopted by our egos in order to meet our need to survive as a child. Because we had no tools for reprogramming our egos and healing our emotional wounds (culturally approved grieving, training and initiation rites, healthy role models, etc.), the effect is that as an adult we keep reacting to the programming of our childhood and do not get our needs met – our emotional, mental, Spiritual, or physical needs. Codependence allows us to survive physically but causes us to feel empty and dead inside. Codependence is a defense system that causes us to wound ourselves.”

The ego is not a bad thing, it was just programmed very dysfunctionally in early childhood. Our ego defenses are set up to protect us from the pain and shame of feeling unlovable and unworthy. The subconscious ego programming from my childhood was heavily invested in trying to protect me from the shame of admitting that I felt fear – or any other emotion that I thought made me less of a man.

“The ego is the part of us that is charged with responsibility for our survival. The ego is the seat of the disease of codependence.

Being born into an emotionally dishonest, fear and shame based, Spiritually hostile environments (based on separation rather than connection), caused us to be emotionally traumatized in childhood. In response to that emotional trauma our egos adapted some very dysfunctional programming. (Functional in terms of survival, but dysfunctional in terms of helping us to be happy and at peace within.)

For some of us, the wounding started in the womb where we: incubated in our mother’s fear and shame; or got addicted to adrenaline because of the emotional volatility of our mother’s life; or could feel our mother’s waiting for us to arrive to give meaning and purpose to her life; or felt how unwelcome we were because she had already had too many children and was feeling overwhelmed; etc.

We exited the warm nurturing cocoon of our incubator into a cold, harsh world. A world run by Higher Powers (parents and any body else bigger than us – siblings, grandparents, hospital or orphanage personnel) who were wounded in their childhood. Gods who were not emotionally healthy, and did not know how to Love themselves. Our egos were traumatized – and adapted programming to try to protect us from the pain of emotional trauma that felt life threatening.

The people we Loved the most – our Higher Powers – hurt us the most. Our emotional intimacy issues were caused by, our fear of intimacy is a direct result of, our early childhood experiences. Our lives have been lived in reaction to the intellectual paradigms our egos adapted to deal with emotional trauma.

The part of a child’s brain that is logical and rational, that understands abstract concepts (like time or death), that can have any kind of an objective perspective on self or life, does not develop until about the age of 7 (the age of reason.) As little children we were completely ego-centric and magical thinking. We did not have the capacity to understand that our Higher Powers were not perfect. We watched their role modeling, experienced their behavior as personal, and felt the emotional currents of our environments – worry, frustration, resentment, fear, anger, pain, shame, etc. – and were emotionally traumatized.

Our ego adapted itself to the environment it was experiencing. It developed emotional and behavioral defense systems in reaction to the emotional pain we experienced growing up with parents who were wounded codependents.

If you have ever wondered why it is so much easier to feel Spiritual in relationship to nature or animals, here is your answer. It was people who wounded us in childhood. It is people who our egos developed defense systems to protect us from.” – Reprogramming our dysfunctional ego defenses

The human left brain (logical, rational) is on one level – in it’s relationship to the ego – a rationalization computer, capable of rationalizing any behavior that the ego deems necessary for survival. (Even if this rationalization results in death. A suicide bomber for instance, is someone whose damaged ego perceives a martyrs death as preferable to a life of feeling like an oppressed and powerless victim. This is a wounded human being who has been forced by cultural programming / conditioned reflexes to channel a great deal of their emotional (and sexual) energy into self righteous victimization – into anger, rage, and religious fanaticism.)  It is possible for wounded humans to rationalize committing monstrous acts because the ego’s damaged programming. “Death before dishonor” is not such a noble cry when you take into account that dishonor for a man could mean admitting fear or crying. When one understands the emotional dynamics of codependency, it becomes readily apparent why emotionally dishonest patriarchal cultures manifest a lot of war and violence.

Our ego desperately fights to hang onto denial and rationalization – because to the ego it feels like a fight for survival, literally a life and death struggle. No one wakes up one morning and says, “Hey maybe I will do some emotional healing today – that sounds like fun.” We start doing this healing work because we are in so much emotional pain. We start doing it because we have hit an emotional bottom where rationalizations and denial no longer work. We start doing it because we have reached a point where emotional dishonesty is killing us – literally.

As long as we allow our ego programming to dictate our relationship with life, we will live life based upon fear.

“This human experience is a process that involves inherent conflict between the continuously changing nature of life and the human ego’s need to survive. In order to insure survival (which is the ego’s appointed task) the human ego needs to define things. What is food? What is friend or enemy? Who am I and how do I relate to them? What can hurt me and what brings me pleasure? It also learned that it is healthy to have a fear of the unknown (it was important to check an unknown cave for saber toothed tigers before strolling into it.) As a result, the ego fears change and craves security and stability. But because life is constantly changing, security and stability can only be temporary.” – Loving and Nurturing self on your Spiritual Path

“Fear of the unknown is a natural, normal part of being human. It has a purpose – and deserves to be honored as something which serves us. But, like our relationship with all the aspects of our being, our relationship with that fear is dysfunctional.

The damaged ego responds to it’s programming by generating fear of the things we learned to fear as a child: making mistakes; doing it wrong; being emotional; speaking our Truth; taking risks; being alone; not being alone; whatever. We then empower the fear by focusing on it, magnifying it, and generally giving it the power to define us and our life – or by denying it, which also gives it power because in denying our fear we are denying our self and reality. Going to either extreme results in the inability to see the situation clearly.

Because our ego was programmed to react to life from fear, negativity, scarcity, and lack (again due to emotional trauma we experienced, and the messages and role modeling of the adults around us) the disease focuses on and magnifies fear – and then it scrambles around trying to find something to cover up and repress the very fear it is generating. The disease blows the fear way out of proportion and then leads us to addictive and/or compulsive behavior as a way of stuffing the fear.

This is the essence of the dysfunction. We live our life reacting to fear, and the shame, that the disease empowers and then “helps” us avoid by causing us to focus on something outside of ourselves as the cause and/or the cure for the core place within us where we feel empty – where we feel unlovable and unworthy.” – The Recovery Process for inner child healing – through the fear

Allowing fear and shame to define and dictate our life experience is not a pleasant way to experience being human. Living life in reaction to our conditioned reflexes, to the programming our ego’s adapted in early childhood, does not work to help us relax and enjoy life. It is dysfunctional if we want to become free from the past and have the capacity to experience happiness, inner peace, and Love.

The way I found to start having some freedom from the past is to consciously start changing my ego programing and become willing to heal my emotional wounds. I was led into this conscious healing process by working a twelve step program to help me quit living in the emotional hell that alcoholism had created in my life. I did not get conscious that this was what I was doing until I started my conscious codependency recovery on June 3, 1986 – at two years and five months clean and sober.

Getting into recovery from alcoholism saved my life and led me to codependency recovery. Codependency recovery taught me how to live life in a way that allows me some freedom from the conditioned programming of the past – that allows me to have a great deal of serenity and Joy in my life today.

“It is the process of striving for integration and balance of masculine and feminine within (integration of Spiritual Truth into our relationship with our mental, emotional, and physical levels, balance between mental and emotional, between rational and intuitive, between feeling and thinking) that allows us to find some balance and harmony in our relationships with ourselves and with life. This striving for integration and balance (which working a Twelve Step program brings to an individual’s life – even if one is not conscious that that is what is happening) allows us to reach a place where we can be happy in the moment the majority of the time – happy, Joyous, and free.”

Unfortunately, there are many people in twelve step programs who have not been willing to get emotionally honest with themselves – who are scared of feeling the feelings because they haven’t changed the subconscious programming that keeps them in denial. That denial and emotional dishonesty keeps them stuck in bondage to the ego’s false self image.

One of the reasons that I feel compelled to keep writing more about this process is because there are so many wounded codependents out there who do not know how to do the integration and reprogramming work that will help them open up to Love. Hopefully, some of the ways that I am explaining the wounding and recovery process in this online book will speak to some of those wounded codependents – especially to all of the suffering codependents in Alcoholics Anonymous.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 5: Codependency = conditioned reactive programming ~ Pavlov’s Dog

Sacred SpiralCodependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life is available in a subscription area of the Joy2MeU website entitled: Dancing in Light

A special offer for that subscription (as well as for the Joy2MeU Journal) is available on this special offers page.

The first two chapters of this online book are available through my regular website – the first chapter is a response to an online article about codependence that I found very codependent (thus the title of the first chapter): The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages!

I have published two other chapters of this work as blogs: Chapter 8 Codependents as Emotional Vampires and Chapter 13: Changing the Music: Love instead of fear and shame.

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life is the third book of what I think of as the Wounded Souls Trilogy along with Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls A Cosmic Perspective on Codependence and the Human Condition and Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing. (This is different from The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy Book 1 – “In The Beginning . . .” which is a Magical, Mystical Adult Spiritual Fable that was in fact the first book I wrote – but have never finished.)

I am going to be preparing Book 2 for publication in the coming months.

Fear of Intimacy – the wounded heart of codependency ~ Fear of Abandonment, Betrayal, and Rejection

Fear of intimacy is at the heart of codependency.  We have a fear of intimacy because we have a fear of abandonment, betrayal, and rejection.  We have a these fears because we were wounded in early childhood – we experienced feeling emotionally abandoned, rejected, and betrayed by our parents because they were wounded.  They did not have healthy relationship with self – they were codependents who abandoned and betrayed themselves – and their behavior caused us to feel unworthy and unlovable.

“We exited the warm nurturing cocoon of our incubator into a cold, harsh world.  A world run by Higher Powers (parents and any body else bigger than us – siblings, grandparents, hospital or orphanage personnel) who were wounded in their childhood.  Gods who were not emotionally healthy, and did not know how to Love themselves.  Our egos were traumatized – and adapted programming to try to protect us from the pain of emotional trauma that felt life threatening.

The people we Loved the most – our Higher Powers – hurt us the most.   Our emotional intimacy issues were caused by, our fear of intimacy is a direct result of, our early childhood experiences.  Our lives have been lived in reaction to the intellectual paradigms our egos adapted to deal with emotional trauma.

The part of a child’s brain that is logical and rational, that understands abstract concepts (like time or death), that can have any kind of an objective perspective on self or life, does not develop until about the age of 7 (the age of reason.)  As little children we were completely ego-centric and magical thinking.  We did not have the capacity to understand that our Higher Powers were not perfect.  We watched their role modeling, experienced their behavior as personal, and felt the emotional currents of our environments – worry, frustration, resentment, fear, anger, pain, shame, etc. – and were emotionally traumatized.

Our ego adapted itself to the environment it was experiencing.  It developed emotional and behavioral defense systems in reaction to the emotional pain we experienced growing up with parents who were wounded codependents.

If you have ever wondered why it is so much easier to feel Spiritual in relationship to nature or animals, here is your answer.  It was people who wounded us in childhood.  It is people who our egos developed defense systems to protect us from.

I have told people for years, that the only reason to do inner child healing work is if we are going to interact with other people.  If one is going to live in isolation on a mountain top meditating, it will be fairly easy to feel Spiritually connected.  It is relating to other human beings that is messy.” – Reprogramming our ego defenses

Relating to animals or nature is safe because we will not be judged.  Our pet will not abandon us because we are inherently defective.  Nature will not reject us because we are personally shameful.  People will – or at least it feels like that is what has happened in the past.

The Truth is that the ways that our parents treated us in childhood did not have anything to do with who we are – was not really personal.  They were incapable of seeing themselves clearly.  They certainly could not see us clearly – could not see our unique individuality from a perspective that allowed them to honor and respect us as beings separate from them.   Their perspective of us was filtered through a prism of their own shame and woundedness.  They projected their hopes and dreams, their fears and insecurities onto us.  They saw us as the fix for their feelings of unworthiness, an extension of them that gave their life meaning – or perhaps they saw us as an inconvenience and a burden holding them back, preventing them from making their dreams come true.  For some of us, a parent(s) was so caught up in their alcoholism or survival drama or career that most of the time they didn’t see us at all.

And both our parents and society taught us very clearly – through direct messages and role modeling – to be dishonest.  Our parents taught us that keeping up appearances, worrying about what the neighbors think, was more important than our feelings – because it was so important to them.  Or, some of us experienced a parent who went to the other extreme, where they acted like they didn’t care what anyone thought – which caused us to feel embarrassed and ashamed of their behavior because it was so out of balance, and caused us to worry about what the neighbors thought.  They taught us to give power to other people by wearing masks and keeping secrets.

Even more importantly, our role models taught us to be emotionally dishonest.  Because it wasn’t safe to be emotionally honest we lost our self – did not know how to be emotionally intimate with our self, and instead constructed a false self image to survive.  We learned to wear different masks for different people.

As children we were incapable of seeing ourselves as separate from our families – of knowing we had worth as individuals apart from our families.  The reality we grew up in was the only reality that we knew.  We thought our parents behavior reflected our worth – the same way that our codependent parents thought our behavior was a factor in rather they had worth.

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

“We live in a society where the emotional experience of “love” is conditional on behavior.  Where fear, guilt, and shame are used to try to control children’s behavior because parents believe that their children’s behavior reflects their self-worth.

In other words, if little Johnny is a well-behaved, “good boy,” then his parents are good people.  If Johnny acts out, and misbehaves, then there is something wrong with his parents.  (“He doesn’t come from a good family.”)

What the family dynamics research shows is that it is actually the good child – the family hero role – who is the most emotionally dishonest and out of touch with him/herself, while the acting-out child – the scapegoat – is the most emotionally honest child in the dysfunctional family.  Backwards again.

In a Codependent society we are taught, in the name of “love,” to try to control those we love, by manipulating and shaming them, to try to get them to do the right things – in order to protect our own ego-strength.  Our emotional experience of love is of something controlling:  “I love you if you do what I want you to do.”  Our emotional experience of love is of something that is shaming and manipulative and abusive.

Love that is shaming and abusive is an insane, ridiculous concept.  Just as insane and ridiculous as the concept of murder and war in the name of God.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Rather our parents made us their reason for living – which is a form of toxic love in which the child is the drug of choice (causing a child to feel responsible for an adult’s self worth is emotionally incestuous and abusive);  or a burden to be carried, the scapegoat they blamed for ruining their lives;  or treated us like we were an inconvenience in the moments when they even seemed aware of us;  it wounded us.  We felt betrayed – by our own unworthiness, because we were incapable of knowing they were not perfect. We felt abandoned and rejected by the gods in our lives.

We were wounded in our first relationships with other people.  We were tiny, innocent, little beings who were completely dependent upon wounded people who did not Love themselves – and therefore were incapable of Loving us in a healthy way.

Feeling unlovable to the gods in our lives as tiny children was life threatening.  It felt life threatening.

Our fear of intimacy is based upon painful, traumatic experience.

in to me see

The simplest and most understandable way I have ever heard intimacy described is by breaking the word down: in to me see.  That is what intimacy is about – allowing another person to see into us, sharing who we are with another person.

Sharing who we are is a problem for codependents because at the core of our relationship with ourselves is the feeling that we are somehow defective, unlovable and unworthy – because of our childhood emotional trauma.  Codependency is rooted in our ego programming from early childhood.  That programming is a defense that the ego adapted to help us survive.  It is based upon the feeling that we are shameful, that we are defective, unworthy, and unlovable.  Our codependent defense system is an attempt to protect us from being rejected, betrayed, and abandoned because of our unworthy, shameful being.

We have a fear of intimacy because we were wounded, emotionally traumatized, in early childhood – felt rejected and abandoned – and then grew up in emotional dishonest societies that did not provide tools for healing, or healthy role models to teach us how to overcome that fear.  Our wounding in early childhood caused us to feel that something was wrong with our being – toxic shame – and our societal and parental role models taught us to keep up appearances, to hide our shamefulness from others.

Toxic Shame – defective, unlovable

It is very important in recovery to start making a distinction – drawing a boundary – between being and behavior.  Growing up in dysfunctional societies taught us to equate our worth – and judge the worth of others – based upon external appearances.   We experienced love as conditional on behavior.  Someone who behaves badly – i.e. not the way we want them to – is a bad person.  Someone who behaves the way we want them to is a good person.

It is very important to stop judging our worth based upon the dysfunctional standards of societies that taught us it was shameful to be imperfect human beings.

“When I use the term “judge,” I am talking about making judgments about our own or other people’s beings based on behavior.  In other words, I did something bad therefore I am a bad person; I made a mistake therefore I am a mistake.  That is what toxic shame is all about:  feeling that something is wrong with our being, that we are somehow defective because we have human drives, human weaknesses, human imperfections.

There may be behavior in which we have engaged that we feel ashamed of but that does not make us shameful beings   We may need to make judgments about whether our behavior is healthy and appropriate but that does not mean that we have to judge our essential self, our being, because of the behavior.  Our behavior has been dictated by our disease, by our childhood wounds; it does not mean that we are bad or defective as beings.  It means that we are human, it means that we are wounded.

It is important to start setting a boundary between being and behavior.  All humans have equal Divine value as beings – no matter what our behavior.  Our behavior is learned (and/or reactive to physical or physiological conditions).  Behavior, and the attitudes that dictate behavior, are adopted defenses designed to allow us to survive in the Spiritually hostile, emotionally repressive, dysfunctional environments into which we were born.”

At the core of codependency is toxic shame – the feeling that we are somehow inherently defective, that something is wrong our being.

[And I want to make note here, that anytime I talk about shame, rather I use the adjective toxic or not – I am talking about feeling toxic shame in relationship to “being,” feeling personally defective.  Some people in the field, notably John Bradshaw, make a distinction between toxic shame and healthy shame.  I find it much simpler, and more useful, to use shame in reference to “being” and guilt in reference to behavior.  I believe there is healthy and unhealthy guilt (as I talk about in Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2) but any time I use the term shame I am talking about toxic shame.  (The example that I have heard Bradshaw use of what he calls healthy shame, is that it is what keeps us from running down the street naked.  I find that not only blatantly a judgment of behavior – but also based upon cultural standards that are not necessarily aligned with any kind of Spiritual Truth.  Some of John’s Jesuit background showing I think. ;-)]

The emotional trauma we suffered in early childhood created within us the feeling of toxic shame.

“We do not need fixing.  We are not broken.  Our sense of self, our self perception, was shattered and fractured and broken into pieces, not our True Self.

We think and feel like we are broken because we were programmed backwards.

We are not broken.  That is what toxic shame is – thinking that we are broken, believing that we are somehow inherently defective.

Guilt is “I made a mistake, I did something wrong.”

Shame is “I’m a mistake, something is wrong with me.”

Again, the feelings of that little child inside who believes that he/she deserves to be punished.”

At the foundation of our relationship with our self – and therefore with other people and life – is the feeling that we will die if we reveal ourselves to other people, because then they will see our shameful self.  I felt deep within me (in those rare instances of breaking through my denial and blaming to a moment of honest clarity), that if I let anyone see who I really was, they would run away screaming in horror at the grotesque, deformed, shameful being that I was.

Our lives have been dictated by an emotional defense system that is designed to keep hidden the the false belief that we are defective.  We use external things – success, looks, productivity, substances – to try to cover up, overcome, make up for, the personal defectiveness that we felt caused our hearts to be broken and our souls wounded in childhood.  And that personal defectiveness is a lie.  That feeling of toxic shame is a lie.

It was so painful that we had to lie to ourselves about it.  We were forced to be emotionally and intellectually dishonest with ourselves by the codependent defenses we adapted.  We had to learn how to live in denial of the pain and shame at the core of our relationship with ourselves.  Codependency is a vicious form of Delayed Stress Syndrome, of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (Codependence as Delayed Stress Syndrome)  The emotional trauma caused us to disassociate – to not be present in our own skins in a conscious way – and to rationalize and deny our emotional experience of life.  We built up a dishonest self image to try to convince ourselves that we had worth based upon some comparative external factors:  looks, success, independence (the counterdependent rebel), popularity (people pleasers), righteousness (better than others, right to their wrong), or whatever.  That false self image was not completely dishonest because it was formed in reaction to some basic aspects of who we Truly are – but it was a twisted, distorted, polarized perspective of our self adapted in response to toxic shame for the purpose of giving us some ego strength, some reason we could feel better than others.

That false self image, the masks we learned to wear, is something we invested a lot of energy into convincing ourselves was the truth.  But deep inside, in our moments of insight and clarity, we knew we were hiding a shameful secret.  Often we got that toxic shame about our being confused in our memories with some behavior in our childhood that felt shameful.  It is very common for us to have a secret that involves a way in which we were abused – physically, sexually, etc. – that we go to great pains to avoid because we associate the feeling of toxic shame with that incident and think it was our fault.

We do not want other people to see in to us, because then they will learn our shameful secret.  We have a fear of intimacy because of the false belief that our relationship with our self is based upon.

We have spent our lives trying to protect ourselves from a lie about who we are.  We have spent incredible energy in our lives trying to keep the toxic shame hidden.  The secret that is killing us and has made our lives miserable, the secret we have lived in reaction to – is a lie.  We have been compulsively – because we were reacting to what felt like a threat to survival – living our lives in reaction to our need to keep secret who we feel we really are in the deepest part of our being.

“Because as small children we did not have any perspective or discernment (prior to the age of reason, which occurs about 7 as our brains develop) we were incapable as viewing our parents as anything other than perfect Higher Powers.  Our God and Goddess.  Because our Higher Powers were wounded and did not know how to Love self, we were wounded and got the message that something must be wrong with us.  Toxic Shame.

That shame is toxic and is not ours – it never was!  We did nothing to be ashamed of – we were just little kids.  Just as our parents were little kids when they were wounded and shamed, and their parents before them, etc., etc.  This is shame about being human that has been passed down from generation to generation.

There is no blame here, there are no bad guys, only wounded souls and broken hearts and scrambled minds.

Out of our codependent relationship with life, there are only two extremes: blame them, or blame me.  Buy into the belief that they are to blame for what I am feeling – or I am to blame because I am a shameful unworthy being.   The emotional pain of feeling unlovable to our parents – which is a reflection of unbearable anguish of feeling separated from The Source – can feel like a bottomless pit of agonizing suffering.   At the core of our wounding is the unbearable emotional pain resulting from having internalized the message that God – our Source – does not Love us because we are personally defective and shameful.

Our addictions, compulsions, and obsessions;  our continuing quest to reach the destination, to find the fix;  our inability to be present in the now through worrying about the future or ruminating about the past;  are all tools that we used to avoid the emotional pain.  Our behavior patterns and dysfunctional relationships (of all kinds, with other people, with money, with our gender and sexuality) are symptoms.  Codependence is a defense system that was adapted by our damaged egos to try to avoid falling into the abyss of shame and pain within.

We formed our core relationship with self, other people, and life based upon this feeling of toxic shame.” – Chapter 2 of Attack on America – A Spiritual Healing Perspective

Because of the feeling that we were somehow shameful, were unworthy and unlovable, we adapted defenses to protect us.  Those defenses caused us to keep recreating the emotional dynamics of our childhood.

Repeating Behavior Patterns – looking for love in all the wrong places

Codependence is doubly traumatic.  We were traumatized as children – and the defenses we adapted to protect us caused us to traumatize ourselves as adults.  We have experienced getting our hearts broken, our hopes and dreams shattered, again and again.  We abandoned, betrayed, and set ourselves up to feel rejected over and over again.  (Even those “family hero” types who achieve external “success” and financial abundance have to keep running from distraction to distraction and finding someone to blame so that they can deny the hole they feel within themselves.  Achieving some material success makes it much easier to maintain the illusion of ego control and stay in denial of one’s wounded soul.  Being rich and famous can be a huge block to true emotional intimacy.)

As long as we are reacting unconsciously to our childhood emotional wounds and intellectual programming, we keep repeating the patterns.  We keep getting involved with unavailable people.  We keep setting ourselves up to be abandoned, betrayed and rejected.  We keep looking for love in all the wrong places, in all the wrong faces.  Is it any wonder we have a fear of intimacy?

“Codependence is an emotional and behavioral defense system which was adopted by our egos in order to meet our need to survive as a child.  Because we had no tools for reprogramming our egos and healing our emotional wounds (culturally approved grieving, training and initiation rites, healthy role models, etc.), the effect is that as an adult we keep reacting to the programming of our childhood and do not get our needs met – our emotional, mental, Spiritual, or physical needs.  Codependence allows us to survive physically but causes us to feel empty and dead inside.  Codependence is a defense system that causes us to wound ourselves.

Some people, when they first get into Recovery, when they first start on a healing path, mistakenly believe that they are supposed to take down their defenses and learn to trust everyone.  That is a very dysfunctional belief.  It is necessary to take down the dysfunctional defense systems but we have to replace them with defenses that work.  We have to have a defense system, we have to be able to protect ourselves.   There is still a hostile environment out there full of wounded Adult Children whom it is not safe to trust.

In our disease defense system we build up huge walls to protect ourselves and then – as soon as we meet someone who will help us to repeat our patterns of abuse, abandonment, betrayal, and/or deprivation – we lower the drawbridge and invite them in.  We, in our Codependence, have radar systems which cause us to be attracted to, and attract to us, the people, who for us personally, are exactly the most untrustworthy (or unavailable or smothering or abusive or whatever we need to repeat our patterns) individuals – exactly the ones who will “push our buttons.”

This happens because those people feel familiar.  Unfortunately in childhood the people whom we trusted the most – were the most familiar – hurt us the most.  So the effect is that we keep repeating our patterns and being given the reminder that it is not safe to trust ourselves or other people

Once we begin healing we can see that the Truth is that it is not safe to trust as long as we are reacting out of the emotional wounds and attitudes of our childhoods.  Once we start Recovering, then we can begin to see that on a Spiritual level these repeating behavior patterns are opportunities to heal the childhood wounds.

The process of Recovery teaches us how to take down the walls and protect ourselves in healthy ways – by learning what healthy boundaries are, how to set them, and how to defend them.  It teaches us to be discerning in our choices, to ask for what we need, and to be assertive and Loving in meeting our own needs.  (Of course many of us have to first get used to the revolutionary idea that it is all right for us to have needs.)”

As children we were victims – as adult we kept repeating the behaviors we learned as children – in one extreme or the other.  The people in our lives were actors we unconsciously cast in roles that would recreate our childhood wounding so that we could try to heal it – try to get in right this time.  We were energetically drawn to, and attracted to us, the people who would treat us in ways that felt familiar – because on some deep level we believed that is what we deserved.  If our own parents could not love us, then we must not deserve to be loved.

In my Update Newsletter for October 2000, I talked about a mother and daughter that I had done some work with.  After an initial period of intensive counseling for both of them, we had evolved into counseling sessions several times a year with one or both of them as they had opportunities for growth in their recovery.  The week that I was writing this article,  I had a session with the mother.  Her daughter had once again engaged in behavior that was dangerous and life threatening.  She was very upset about an incident that her daughter had experienced – and was putting a lot of energy into blaming the daughter’s boyfriend.

She kept saying how controlling, possessive, and abusive this boyfriend was and how she just couldn’t understand it.  She felt that her daughter had chosen the boyfriend over her own mother and out of the deep hurt she was feeling she was blaming.  She mentioned several times how she had said to her daughter, “What is wrong with you!”   Then she would swing to the other extreme and say, “Maybe I failed somehow as a parent.”  She was caught up in codependent polarized reaction to her fear, pain, and shame.

After letting her vent for a long period of time, I brought her back to focusing on her Spiritual belief system and applying the Serenity prayer to what was happening.  I reminded her that the reason her daughter was in a relationship that was controlling, possessive, and abusive was because that was the only type of relationship the daughter was familiar with.  I reminded her that she, in her concern and love for her daughter, out of her fear of her daughters self destructive behavior, had been controlling, possessive, and abusive.  I pointed out that it was abusive to say something like, “what is wrong with you.” – because it equates behavior with being.  Doing something “wrong” does not mean there is something wrong with us.  The daughter was in fact, just repeating her codependent patterns – and to me, her behavior was not only understandable, but very predictable.  (And repeating the patterns was not a sign that she had not grown.  This was a new opportunity for growth at a higher level of consciousness for her – a perfect part of her growth process, not some regression or slip into old behavior.  We make progress gradually.)

Once I got her to stop reacting to her shame, fear, and hurt, and to stop viewing the situation from a polarized black and white, right and wrong, perspective – then she was able to get back to her recovery and start using the tools she has learned to help her let go of things she can’t control and focus on her inner process which she can have some degree of control over in a Loving way.

The reality of codependence is that we get in relationship with people who feel familiar – people who will repeat our childhood emotional dynamics.  We keep getting involved with people with whom we can recreate the emotional dynamics from our childhood in some way.

A large part of the tragedy of codependency – the insidiously dysfunctional nature of the disease – is that by repeating the patterns we keep setting ourselves up to be abandoned and rejected.  To feel betrayed by our own unworthiness.  To reinforce the lie that we are inherently, and personally, shameful and unlovable.

I spent most of my life being the victim of my own thoughts, my own emotions, my own behaviors.  I was consistently picking untrustworthy people to trust and unavailable people to love.  I could not trust my own emotions because I was incapable of being honest with myself emotionally – which made me incapable of Truly being honest on any level.”

We are attracted to people who are unable to meet our needs, who are unavailable on some level, as a protection from allowing ourselves to get close to someone who could be available to us – because then they would find out how shameful we are and reject us.  Allowing someone to see into us, to see who we really are, feels to the disease like the last thing we want to do – and it generates incredible fear of allowing that kind of intimacy.

Codependency is an emotional and behavioral defense system that does not work.  Our defense against pain and shame actually creates more pain – and causes us to keep repeating painful patterns in a way which reinforces the belief that we are somehow defective, that we have good reason to feel ashamed of ourselves.

Our fear of intimacy is reinforced by the evidence of how many “stupid” choices we have made in the past.  Our experiences in childhood caused us to fear intimacy and feel that we were somehow unlovable – and our codependency caused us to keep creating new evidence of our inherent defectiveness.

Nasty stuff indeed!

We have a fear of intimacy for very good reasons.  We have a lifetime of experiences that reinforce the original messages – that reinforces our feeling of being terrified of letting anyone get too close to us, see into us.

The only way to overcome our fear of intimacy is to get into recovery for our codependency – and do our inner child healing work so that we can learn to be emotionally honest and intimate with ourselves.  Integrating a Loving Spiritual belief system into our relationship with self and life is an invaluable step in taking power away from the toxic shame so that we can start to Love ourselves and be open to being Loved by others.

“Learning what healthy behavior is will allow us to be healthier in the relationships that do not mean much to us;  intellectually knowing Spiritual Truth will allow us to be more Loving some of the time;  but in the relationships that mean the most to us, with the people we care the most about, when our “buttons are pushed” we will watch ourselves saying things we don’t want to say and reacting in ways that we don’t want to react – because we are powerless to change the behavior patterns without dealing with the emotional wounds.

We cannot integrate Spiritual Truth or intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior into our experience of life in a substantial way without honoring and respecting the emotions.  We cannot consistently incorporate healthy behavior into day to day life without being emotionally honest with ourselves.  We cannot get rid of our shame and overcome our fear of emotional intimacy without going through the feelings.”

“The key to healing our wounded souls is to get clear and honest in our emotional process.  Until we can get clear and honest with our human emotional responses – until we change the twisted, distorted, negative perspectives and reactions to our human emotions that are a result of having been born into, and grown up in, a dysfunctional, emotionally repressive, Spiritually hostile environment – we cannot get clearly in touch with the level of emotional energy that is Truth.  We cannot get clearly in touch with and reconnected to our Spiritual Self.

We, each and every one of us, has an inner channel to Truth, an inner channel to the Great Spirit.  But that inner channel is blocked up with repressed emotional energy, and with twisted, distorted attitudes and false beliefs.

We can intellectually throw out false beliefs.  We can intellectually remember and embrace the Truth of ONENESS and Light and Love.  But we cannot integrate Spiritual Truths into our day-to-day human existence, in a way which allows us to substantially change the dysfunctional behavior patterns that we had to adopt to survive, until we deal with our emotional wounds.  Until we deal with the subconscious emotional programming from our childhoods.”

Logo of Joy2MeU

Logo of Joy2MeU.com website of Robert Burney

Codependency causes us to feel like the victim of our own thoughts and feelings, and like our own worst enemy – recovery helps us to start learning how to be our own best friend. Getting into codependency recovery is an act of love for self. Reading my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls (links to all of my books in ebook format are on that page) would really help you take your understanding to a whole new level. Understanding codependency is vital in helping us to forgive our self for the dysfunctional ways we have lived our lives – it is not our fault we are codependent.

In the last few years I have also published two more books that can be very helpful. Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing and Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth. I have special offers for either or both of these books (or for all three of my books) on this page.

Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility – Uncover, Discover, Recover by learning boundaries

Recognition, awareness, is the first step in healing – as I stated in the previous article.  Becoming aware is the beginning of getting honest with ourselves.   As long as we are reacting unconsciously out of old tapes and old wounds, we are not capable of seeing ourselves clearly.  As long as our emotional experience of life is being dictated by the past, we are doomed to keep repeating and reacting to our patterns.  We need to start seeing clearly what our patterns are, and start taking responsibility for our part in them in order to change our experience of life.  As long as we are incapable of being honest with ourselves, we will keep setting ourselves up to be the victim of people who feel familiar energetically – we will continue to be our own worst enemies.

“In our disease defense system we build up huge walls to protect ourselves and then – as soon as we meet someone who will help us to repeat our patterns of abuse, abandonment, betrayal, and/or deprivation – we lower the drawbridge and invite them in.  We, in our Codependence, have radar systems which cause us to be attracted to, and attract to us, the people, who for us personally, are exactly the most untrustworthy (or unavailable or smothering or abusive or whatever we need to repeat our patterns) individuals – exactly the ones who will “push our buttons.”

This happens because those people feel familiar.  Unfortunately in childhood the people whom we trusted the most – were the most familiar – hurt us the most.  So the effect is that we keep repeating our patterns and being given the reminder that it is not safe to trust ourselves or other people.

Once we begin healing we can see that the Truth is that it is not safe to trust as long as we are reacting out of the emotional wounds and attitudes of our childhoods.  Once we start Recovering, then we can begin to see that on a Spiritual level these repeating behavior patterns are opportunities to heal the childhood wounds.

The process of Recovery teaches us how to take down the walls and protect ourselves in healthy ways – by learning what healthy boundaries are, how to set them, and how to defend them.  It teaches us to be discerning in our choices, to ask for what we need, and to be assertive and Loving in meeting our own needs.  (Of course many of us have to first get used to the revolutionary idea that it is all right for us to have needs.)

Recovery involves bringing to consciousness those beliefs and attitudes in our subconscious that are causing our dysfunctional reactions so that we can reprogram our ego defenses to allow us to live a healthy, fulfilling life instead of just surviving.  So that we can own our power to make choices for ourselves about our beliefs and values instead of unconsciously reacting to the old tapes.  Recovery is consciousness raising.  It is en-light-en-ment – bringing the dysfunctional attitudes and beliefs out of the darkness of our subconscious into the Light of consciousness.

On an emotional level the dance of Recovery is owning and honoring the emotional wounds so that we can release the grief energy – the pain, rage, terror, and shame that is driving us.

That shame is toxic and is not ours – it never was!  We did nothing to be ashamed of – we were just little kids.  Just as our parents were little kids when they were wounded and shamed, and their parents before them, etc., etc.  This is shame about being human that has been passed down from generation to generation.

There is no blame here, there are no bad guys, only wounded souls and broken hearts and scrambled minds.

Because of our broken hearts, our emotional wounds, and our scrambled minds, our subconscious programming, what the disease of Codependence causes us to do is abandon ourselves.  It causes the abandonment of self, the abandonment of our own inner child – and that inner child is the gateway to our channel to the Higher Self.

The one who betrayed us and abandoned and abused us the most was ourselves.  That is how the emotional defense system that is Codependence works.

The battle cry of Codependence is “I’ll show you – I’ll get me.” – text in this color are quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)

The governing principle of life is cause and effect.  If you keep doing what you are doing – you will keep getting what you have been getting.  In order to stop being our own worst enemies, in order to stop setting our self up to be abandoned, betrayed, and abused – it is vital to get honest with our self.

There are many different levels and facets to the process of becoming honest with self.  In these articles I am going to be focusing on three primary areas that are of vital importance in clearing up our relationship with self through getting more honest with self.  Those three are:  boundaries;  emotional honesty;  and emotional responsibility.

Self-Honesty – The Foundation

Honesty with self is the foundation of the twelve step program, the cornerstone of any effective healing/spiritual path.  Without being honest with our self, we cannot be honest with anyone in our lives.  Without being honest with our self, we cannot see our behaviors, patterns, or relationships clearly.  Without being honest with ourselves, we cannot know who we Truly are – or see others clearly.

One of the most important tools in the process of getting honest with our self is detachment.  As long as we are reacting unconsciously to old wounds and old tapes, it is impossible to see ourselves clearly – we are dancing in the dark.  As long as we haven’t become aware of our patterns, and started healing our wounds, then we can not be honest with ourselves or anyone else.

It is important to start detaching from our own process so that we can observe it instead of just being caught up in our reactions.  In order to start seeing other people more clearly, we need to detach from feeling responsible for their feelings and behavior – from taking their behavior personally.

Here is an excerpt from my process level book Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light that addresses this very necessary tool.

“Detach 1. To unfasten and make separate; disconnect; disunite.
Detachment  1. A detaching; separation.
(New Illustrated Webster’s Dictionary)

“The goal of this dance of Recovery is integration and balance.  That means celebrating being a tree while also glorying in being a part of the forest.   Recovery is a process of becoming conscious of our individual wholeness and our ONENESS with all.”

The healing process is full of paradox and irony on multiple levels.  One of those paradoxes is that in order to get in touch with our ONENESS with everything, we must first be able to define our self as separate from others.  And in order to become an integrated whole being, we must first separate and own all of the different parts of our self within.  As long as we don’t have clear boundaries between our self and others – we cannot know where we end and someone else starts – we cannot get clear on what is our stuff and what is theirs.  As long as we don’t have clear boundaries within ourselves, we are set up to be the victim of our own thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

Detachment is a vital technique in starting to see our self and others more clearly.

Most people who have any experience with twelve step programs will associate the term “detachment” with Al-Anon.  In Al-Anon terms, detachment means to let go of believing that one has the power to make an alcoholic drink – or not drink.  To stop taking an alcoholics behavior personally.  It means to let go of feeling responsible for another persons feelings and behavior.

Detaching from feeling responsible for the feelings and behavior of other people is one of the initial stages of any codependence recovery.  We learned in childhood that we had the power to make our parents happy or sad, angry or scared.  We experienced painful consequences when our behavior was not what the adults around us considered acceptable.  Some of us came from families where being a human child was not acceptable behavior.  Some of us came from families afflicted with alcoholism or mental illness, in which case the definition of acceptable behavior varied wildly from one day to the next.  Some of us came from families where as children we were allowed to have the power and be in control – which is terrifying and abusive to a child.  Some of us came from families where no one in the family had permission to be human.  None of these environments taught us how to relate to self and life in a healthy way.

We grew up getting the message that we were responsible for other people feelings and behavior.   And we were taught to give other people or outside agencies power over how we felt about ourselves.  We learned to do life backwards.

“I spent most of my life doing the Serenity prayer backwards, that is, trying to change the external things over which I had no control – other people and life events mostly – and taking no responsibility (except shaming and blaming myself) for my own internal process – over which I can have some degree of control.  Having some control is not a bad thing; trying to control something or somebody over which I have no control is what is dysfunctional.”

We tried to control other people so we could protect ourselves emotionally.  Some of us (classical codependent behavior) tried to control through people pleasing, being a chameleon, wearing a mask, dancing to other people’s tunes.  Some of us (classical counterdependent behavior – the opposite extreme) protected ourselves by pretending that we didn’t need other people.  Either way we were living life in reaction to our childhood wounds – we were not making clear, conscious choices.  (If we think our choice is to be in an abusive relationship or not to be in a relationship at all, that is not a choice – that is reacting between two extremes that are symptoms of our childhood wounds.)” – Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

I needed to learn how to apply the Serenity Prayer to my life by learning what I do have the power to change and what I don’t have power over.  This was for me the beginning of learning about boundaries.

Boundaries
Boundary 1. A limiting or dividing line or mark.
(New Illustrated Webster’s Dictionary)

Boundaries define limits, mark off dividing lines.  The purpose of a boundary is to make clear separations between different turf, different territory.

In terms of boundaries between countries, these dividing lines are arbitrary and mostly man made according to who won the last war – although sometimes natural boundaries such as rivers are a factor in drawing the boundary lines.  Likewise, boundaries between states, counties, those defining property lines – are primarily arbitrary and man made.

In relationship to recovery and the growth process, I am going to be talking about two primary types of boundaries.  Natural boundaries that are part of the way life works – that are aligned with the reality of the rules that govern human dynamics – and personal boundaries.

It is vital in recovery to start recognizing and accepting the reality of the human life experience.  We need to learn to live life on “life’s terms” – play the game of life by the rules that actually work, instead of the dysfunctional ones we learned in childhood.

We grew up in dysfunctional families living in dysfunctional societies that were part of dysfunctional civilizations.  The definitions we learned in childhood about who we were, how life works, and how to relate to other people were false, distorted, and twisted.  Because the definitions, attitudes, and beliefs we were programmed with in childhood were false, they set us up to have emotional reactions to life that gave us inaccurate information.

“Our experiential reality is determined by the interpretations of our mind – by the intellectual paradigm which we are using to define / determine / translate / explain our reality.  The attitudes, definitions, and belief systems which we hold mentally dictate our emotional reactions.  Attitudes, definitions, and beliefs determine perspective and expectation – which in turn dictates our relationships.  Our relationships to our self, to life, to other people, to The God-Force / Goddess Energy / Great Spirit.  Our relationships to our own emotions, bodies, gender, etc., are dictated by the attitudes, definitions, and beliefs that we are holding mentally / intellectually.  And we acquired those mental constructs / ideas / concepts in early childhood from the emotional experiences, intellectual teachings, and role modeling of the beings around us.  If we have not done our emotional healing so that we can get in touch with our subconscious intellectual programming then we are still reacting to that early childhood programming / intellectual paradigm even though we may not be aware of it consciously.” – The True Nature of Love – part 4, Energetic Clarity

Our emotions are what drive us, what propel us, through life.  Our emotions tell us who we are.  If our relationship with our own emotions is messed up, we cannot see reality clearly.

If life is a dance, then our emotions provide the music.  Dancing in the dark according to rules that are dysfunctional is not much fun.  Dancing through life believing that we have responsibility for the feelings and behaviors of others, doesn’t allow us to relax and enjoy life very much.  Believing that we have to earn love by doing the dance “right,’ by being perfect, in order to reach the destination where we will get to live happily-ever-after – sets us up to be unhappy and blame ourselves for being unworthy and unlovable.

“We were taught that life is about destinations, and that when we get to point x – be it marriage or college degree or fame and fortune or whatever – we will live happily ever after.

    That is not the way life works.  You know that now, and probably threw out that fairy tale ending stuff intellectually a long time ago.  But on some emotional level we keep looking for it because that is what the children in us were taught.  We keep living life as if it is a dress rehearsal for “when our ship comes in.”  For when we really start to live.  For when we get that relationship, or accomplishment, or money that will make us okay, that will fix us.

    We do not need fixing.  We are not broken.  Our sense of self, our self perception, was shattered and fractured and broken into pieces, not our True Self.”

We learned to have a dysfunctional relationship with self, with other people, and with life in early childhood.  It is vital to start looking at our self and life from a new perspective, with different eyes.  In order to do that, it is necessary to start being very honest with ourselves.  Once we start to be honest and see reality with more clarity then we can start changing our relationships, start changing the way we do the dance of life.

The way this works for humans, is that we keep dancing the dance we have known until we get consequences that are so painful that we are forced to surrender the way we have been dancing and consider doing it different.  When we get to a point where we are beaten and bloody enough from banging our heads into the same wall, where we are sick and tired of being sick and tired of our consequences – then we become willing to consider changing the way we dance.

For me the original point of surrender came because of alcohol.  When I was in enough pain, and my family quit enabling me, I was forced to detach enough from my dance to get honest with myself about the effect that alcohol was having on my life.  (Enabling is when family, friends and/or loved ones rescue us from the consequences of our own behavior.  As long as we do not have to face our responsibility for what we are getting in life, we are never forced to get honest with ourselves about our part in creating those consequences.)

I had to get honest with myself enough to stop blaming other people and life for the reality of the dance I had been dancing.  I had to detach enough from my reactive process to see clearly that alcohol and drugs were not serving me anymore – that my relationship with them was dysfunctional.  I had to set a boundary with myself mentally about my beliefs in relationship to alcohol.  I had to stop seeing alcohol and drugs as a solution, as a tool for coping with life that I could not live without – in other words, I needed to change my relationship with alcohol and my beliefs about alcohol and drugs.  I had to get honest with myself about the consequences of my drinking.

I was forced to look at the reality of my life, to get emotionally honest with myself, and own that I had a choice to do things different.  I had to start taking some responsibility for my life, instead of blaming it on others.   I had to own that I had a choice to set a boundary with myself about my behavior in regard to alcohol – that I could choose to learn how to live life without drinking and using by having boundaries with myself.

Hitting bottom, the point of surrender – rather it is because of alcohol, or an eating disorder, or abusive relationships, or whatever – is a gift from the Universe.  It is the point where we are forced to start becoming honest with ourselves.  It is the point where we start awakening to the reality of the dysfunctional dance we have been doing.  It is the point where we start recognizing natural boundaries and start setting personal boundaries.

Recognizing that alcohol was not working for me anymore, was to become conscious of the limitations set up by the disease of alcoholism.  It was a recognition of the natural boundaries that my body was setting about my use of alcohol and drugs.  Once I got honest with myself about the reality of my life, then I could recognize that I had a choice to not drink one day at a time by starting to have a personal boundary with myself about picking up the next drink.

Getting honest with myself and seeing life more clearly was the beginning of my journey of recovery.  Emotional honesty, taking responsibility, recognizing and setting boundaries were all necessary ingredients in beginning to awaken to a new way of living life.

The Rules that Work

In terms of the Serenity Prayer, I needed to figure out what I did have the power to change and what I did not.  I needed to learn the extent of my own personal power.   I needed to detach from my own reactive relationship with life enough to start seeing with some clarity where the boundaries of my power ended so that I could figure out what I was responsible for – and therefore what I could change – and what I was powerless over, and therefore needed to accept.

The Serenity Prayer states;

God,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

The wisdom to know the difference is, of course, the key here.  As long as I was looking outside of myself for a way to fill the hole I felt within, I was set up to fail.  As long as my relationship with life was being dictated by the false beliefs and definitions I had learned in childhood, I was destined to have a dysfunctional relationship with life.

I do not have the power to make other people be who I want them to be.  I am not in control of life.  I cannot dictate the outcome of situations.  I can take actions in a direction to try to make something happen.  I can plant seeds in hopes that they grow.  But ultimately I am not in control of life events.  It was very important for me to accept that in order to start seeing life more clearly.

It was very important for me to realize that what I do have some power over is my own attitudes, behavior, and feelings.  It was very important for me to recognize that other people did not have power over my feelings unless I gave it to them.  It was vital for me to start realizing and taking responsibility for how I was setting myself up to be the victim because of my childhood programming.

“There is an old joke about the difference between a neurotic and a psychotic. The psychotic truly believes that 2 + 2 = 5. The neurotic knows that it is 4 but can’t stand it. That was the way I lived most of my life, I could see how life was but I couldn’t stand it. I was always feeling like a victim because people and life were not acting in the way I believed they “should” act.

I expected life to be different than it is. I thought if I was good and did it “right” then I would reach ‘happily ever after.’ I believed that if I was nice to people they would be nice to me. Because I grew up in a society where people were taught that other people could control their feelings, and vise versa, I had spent most of my life trying to control the feelings of others and blaming them for my feelings.

By having expectations I was giving power away. In order to become empowered I had to own that I had choices about how I viewed life, about my expectations. I realized that no one can make me feel hurt or angry – that it is my expectations that cause me to generate feelings of hurt or anger. In other words, the reason I feel hurt or anger is because other people, life, or God are not doing what I want them, expect them, to do.

I had to learn to be honest with myself about my expectations – so I could let go of the ones that were insane (like, everyone is going to drive the way I want them to), and own my choices – so I could take responsibility for how I was setting myself up to be a victim in order to change my patterns. Accept the things I cannot change – change the things I can.” – Serenity and Expectations

If someone is emotionally abusive, and I keep expecting them to treat me in a loving respectful way – then I am the one who has the problem.  I give them the power to push my buttons because I am empowering an insane expectation.  I think they “should” act different, so I keep setting them up to be the bad guy, and me to be the poor abused victim.  This is a codependent pattern that allows me to feel superior to others because of my self righteous indignation.

It is very sad that one of my main sources of self esteem for much of my life was to feel morally superior to the people who were abusing me.  It is not bad or wrong or shameful – but it is dysfunctional, and it is very sad.

“We cannot become clear on what we are seeing or hearing if we are reacting to emotional wounds that we have not been willing/able to feel and subconscious attitudes that we have not been willing/able to look at.

    We cannot learn to trust ourselves as long as we are still setting ourselves up to be victimized by untrustworthy people.  We cannot learn to Love ourselves enough to meet our own needs until we start to release the attitudes and feelings that tell us that we are unworthy – that it is somehow shameful to be ourselves.  We cannot learn to Love ourselves without learning discernment.

    The black and white thinking of Codependence causes us to either keep the baby in the dirty bath water or throw out both. Discernment is picking the baby out of the dirty bath water.

    We can learn to trust and Love ourselves through learning to make healthier choices about who to trust and what to believe.  We can begin to be able to recognize Truth and throw out the distortions, false beliefs, and lies.  By doing our emotional healing, by changing the dysfunctional attitudes, we can start being responsible in our lives – that is, we can begin to have the ability to respond to life honestly in the moment.

    Until we heal our wounds, until we become honest and clear in our emotional process, we are not able to be discerning.  We are not capable of responding to life in the now – we are only able to react out of old grief, out of old tapes.”

One of the trickiest challenges with codependence recovery is escaping from the black and white thinking.  Out of our codependence – from an emotional reaction level – there were two options: blame them, blame me.  It is vital in recovery to start taking the blame out of the process.  We need to learn to take responsibility for our side of the street, and hold other people responsible for their side of the street.

As we become aware of how we have set ourselves up to be emotionally abused it is important not to judge and blame ourselves for behavior and attitudes that we were unconsciously empowering.   If we beat ourselves up for being emotionally abused, then we are emotionally abusing ourselves.

It is vital to start recognizing how the childhood emotional and intellectual programming set us up.  It is very important to start recognizing our powerlessness to change our patterns until we became aware of them.  In order to stop emotionally abusing ourselves, and allowing others to emotionally abuse us, it is very important to become aware of how powerful our childhood programming has been in our lives.

“We must start recognizing our powerlessness over this disease of Codependence.

    As long as we did not know we had a choice we did not have one.

    If we never knew how to say “no,” then we never really said “yes.”

    We were powerless to do anything any different than we did it. We were doing the best we knew how with the tools that we had.  None of us had the power to write a different script for our lives.”

Two Examples

I am going to wrap up this article by giving two examples of how powerful the intellectual and emotional programing is until we get conscious of it and honest with ourselves about how the past is dictating our lives today.   The first example is from my own personal process about the breakthrough that started my codependence recovery.  The second is about someone I worked with and points out how necessary it is to do the emotional healing to get in touch with the subconscious intellectual programming

“I went home to do some writing and was pretty amazed at what it revealed.  I realized that I was still reacting to life out of the religious programming of my childhood – even though I had thrown out that belief system on a conscious, intellectual level in my late teens and early twenties.  The writing that I did that night helped me to recognize that my emotional programming was dictating my relationship with life even though it was not what I consciously believed.

I realized that the belief that “life was about sin and punishment and I was a sinner who deserved to be punished” was running my life.   When I felt “bad” or “bad” things happened to me – I tried to blame it on others to keep from realizing how much I was hating myself for being flawed and defective, a sinner.  When I felt good or good things happened I was holding my breath because I knew it would be taken away because I didn’t deserve it.  Often when things got too good I would sabotage it because I couldn’t stand the suspense of waiting for god to take it away – which “he” would because I didn’t deserve it.

. . . I said to myself – this is no way to live life, I need to change this.  So that night I started to focus on changing the subconscious programming from my childhood.  I didn’t know how I was going to do it – but I was determined to find out.  (That was an act of Love for myself that at the time I wouldn’t have known to call Love.)” – Joy2MeU Journal Premier issue The Story of “Joy to You & Me”

“We cannot get clearly in touch with the subconscious programming without doing the grief work.  The subconscious intellectual programming is tied to the emotional wounds we suffered and many years of suppressing those feelings has also buried the attitudes, definitions, and beliefs that are connected to those emotional wounds.  It is possible to get intellectually aware of some of them through such tools as hypnosis, or having a therapist or psychic or energy healer tell us they are there – but we cannot really understand how much power they carry without feeling the emotional context – and cannot change them without reducing the emotional charge / releasing the emotional energy tied to them.  Knowing they are there will not make them go away.

A good example of how this works is a man that I worked with some years ago.  He came to me in emotional agony because his wife was leaving him.  He was adamant that he did not want a divorce and kept saying how much he loved his wife and how he could not stand to lose his family (he had a daughter about 4.)  I told him the first day he came in that the pain he was suffering did not really have that much to do with his wife and present situation – but was rooted in some attitude from his childhood.  But that did not mean anything to him on a practical level, on a level of being able to let go of the attitude that was causing him so much pain.  It was only while doing his childhood grief work that he got in touch with the pain of his parents divorce when he was 10 years old.  In the midst of doing that grief work the memory of promising himself that he would never get a divorce, and cause his child the kind of pain he was experiencing, surfaced.  Once he had gotten in touch with, and released, the emotional charge connected to the idea of divorce, he was able to look at his present situation more clearly.  Then he could see that the marriage had never been a good one – that he had sacrificed himself and his own needs from the beginning to comply with his dream / concept of what a marriage should be.  He could then see that staying in the marriage was not serving him or his daughter.  Once he got past the promise he made to himself in childhood, he was able to let go of his wife and start building a solid relationship with his daughter based on the reality of today instead of the grief of the past.

It was the idea / concept of his wife, of marriage, that he had been unable to let go of – not the actual person.  By changing his intellectual concept / belief, he was able to get clear on what the reality of the situation was and sever the emotional energy chains / cords that bound him to the situation and to his wife.  He was then able to let go of giving away power over his self-esteem (part of his self-esteem was based on keeping his promise to himself) to a situation / person that he could not control.  He gained the wisdom / clarity to discern the difference between what he had some power to change and what he needed to accept.  He could not change his wife’s determination to get a divorce but he could change his attitude toward that divorce – once he changed the subconscious emotional programming connected to the concept.” – The True Nature of Love – part 4, Energetic Clarity

Our childhood programming, our codependence, is incredibly powerful.  It is so important to have compassion for our selves.   We truly were powerless to do the dance of life in a functional way as long as we were reacting unconsciously.  Becoming conscious, starting to get honest with ourselves so that we can see reality more clearly, is the beginning of an incredible adventure – an E ticket ride on the biggest roller coaster imaginable.

It is not our fault that we were wounded.  It is not our fault that we have had dysfunctional and dishonest interaction patterns.  It is very painful to start getting honest with ourselves.  It is also the beginning of learning to Love our self.  The traumatic event that forces us to start awakening,, the roadblock that is keeping us from getting where we thought we wanted to go, is actually a detour that puts us on the path back home to Love.  It really is good news.

Logo of Joy2MeU.com website of codependency recovery expert inner child healing pioneer Robert Burney

Logo of Joy2MeU.com website of codependency recovery expert inner child healing pioneer Robert Burney

The is the second in a series of 5 articles focused on emotional honesty and emotional responsibility on Robert’s website.  The one that proceeds it is: Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility – the one that follows it is Setting Personal Boundaries – protecting self.

Joy2MeU.com includes over 200 pages of free original content on codependency recovery, inner child healing, relationship dynamics, alcoholism/addiction, fear of intimacy, Twelve Step Spirituality, New Age Metaphysics, emotional abuse, setting boundaries, grief process, and much more. Here is the site index page of his site. He also has a mobile friendly site focused on his work:  http://recoverycodependence.com/

The approach to the inner child healing that he talks about on his web site is one he pioneered – and is not widely known yet.  The formula – which includes learning to set the internal boundaries –  is something that he teaches people how to do through telephone counseling  and periodic Day long Intensive Training workshops in San Diego.

Powerlessness & Empowerment – why the 12 steps work

“The Twelve Step Recovery process is so successful because it provides a formula for integrating different levels. It is by recognizing that we are powerless to control our life experiences out of ego-self that we can access the power out of True Self, Spiritual Self. By surrendering the illusion of ego control we can reconnect with our Higher Selves. Selfishness out of ego-self is destroying the planet. Selfishness out of Spiritual Self is what will save the planet.

It is because there is more than one level of reality that life is paradoxical in nature. What is True and positive on one level – selfishness out of Spiritual Self, can be negative on another level – selfishness out of ego-self. What a caterpillar calls the end of the world, God calls a butterfly.

Humans have always had expressions that describe the paradoxical nature of the life experience. Every ending is a beginning. Every cloud does have a silver lining. For every door that closes, another door does open. It is always darkest before the dawn. Every obstacle is a gift, every problem is an opportunity for growth.

These are all expressions that refer to the paradoxical nature of life – the seeming contradictions that are a result of the multiple levels of reality. When we start to understand and recognize that there are multiple levels of reality, then we can begin to unravel the paradox and see how all of the pieces fit together perfectly.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

One of the many things which confused me in early recovery were some seemingly contradictory statements that I would hear at meetings and from other Recovering people. There were several areas where this came up but the one which I remember puzzled me the most had to do with the concept of “selfishness.” I would read or hear how negative self-seeking, self-pity, and self-will were, and how selfishness and self-centeredness were the root of my problem. But then I would also hear, in a positive context that this was a selfish program and “to thine own self be true.”

Luckily, it wasn’t important for me to figure out this paradox in order to stay sober. I was in my fifth year of recovery when something that I heard in a meeting reminded me of my puzzlement and started me thinking about this paradox again. Someone in the meeting talked about how there were three steps that mentioned power. The first tells me that I don’t have it; the second tells me where to find it; and the eleventh tells me how to access it – through prayer and meditation.

So the steps tell me that I am powerless and then tell me how to access power. Were these two different kinds of power? I was real clear that the moment I accepted my powerlessness to stop drinking and using I somehow got the power to do exactly that. How did this work? How can powerlessness lead to empowerment?

It was while writing a book (not the one that has been published – this was actually the first writing I did, a Magical Mystical Spiritual Fable that will never be published in book form, but which greatly expanded my Spiritual Paradigm) about Spirituality that I started to see why there was paradox in life. I started to understand that there were different levels of reality. These different levels were the reason that what seemed to me to be tragedy (quitting drinking) could in the larger perspective, on a higher level, actually be a great gift. It helped me start understanding why there is always a “silver lining” – there is always more than one level of reality at play in any life experience.

That was when I started to understand that there were two very different levels of “self.” There is my ego-self which was traumatized and programmed in early childhood. The ego-self got the message that I wasn’t lovable or worthy because my parents believed that they weren’t lovable or worthy. In very early childhood my ego-self got the message that there was something shameful about my “being” – about being me. So the ego tries to defend me against the pain of not being good enough by trying to keep me separate from other human beings so they won’t find out about my defective nature. My ego built up huge walls to defend me and keep me separate. The only ones allowed through those walls were the people that felt familiar – in other words the very ones who were wounded in such a way that they would recreate the messages I received in childhood.

So the very defenses that the ego adapted to protect me actually kept me replaying the old patterns. This is why Codependence is a dysfunctional defense system – it doesn’t work to defend me.

What the Twelve Steps did for me was to help me start letting go of the ego-self’s faulty programming. When I surrendered trying to control things out of ego-self and started looking to a Higher Power is when I started to access my Spiritual Self. My Spiritual Self is the part of me that knows that I am a Spiritual Being who is related to everyone and everything – that we are all ONE. Through my Spiritual Self I have access to all the power in the Universe.

So when I started praying and meditating I started to access the power to change my life. And it was very important for me personally to realize that prayer and meditation did not just mean formal prayer and formal meditation. What I came to realize is that prayer is “talking to” my Higher Power and other Recovering people, while meditation is “listening to” my Higher Power and other Recovering people. I learned to talk to and listen to my Higher Power all day long – to keep the energy flowing between the physical level and the Spiritual level – between my self and my Self.”

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls  A Cosmic Perspective of Codependence and the Human Condition b

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls A Cosmic Perspective of Codependence and the Human Condition

 

This book is available through Robert’s website or from Amazon Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Also available in eBook format: Amazon Kindle Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls and Barnes & Noble Nook

New December 2012 Announcing that a new audio version of Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls A Cosmic Perspective of Codependence and the Human Condition is now available on audible.com

This is a literal audio book with another narrator – not the audio that I did myself which was slightly abridged. I think that the narrator did a good job – but of course it doesn’t have the passion and the points of emphasis that the one I did has. As one person’s feedback stated about my version:

“The audio version is absolutely a mind-blowing audio spiritual experience! You rock, man!! It’s one thing to read the articles on the clinically electric computer screen and completely another level of involvement hearing the man himself utter his own words of wisdom and spiritual alchemy. One can tell that you aren’t just mumbling through a book you’ve written; while listening it becomes certain that the message truly is your spiritual truth and not just some neatly packaged intellectual mind job disguising itself in spiritual language. An enormous THANK YOU for sharing your story and perspective for all the world to see, I truly appreciate it, man!” – The version that I did is for sale as an MP3 download.

Joy to You & Me Presents an Empowering & Life Changing Codependency Recovery / Inner Child Healing Workshop in San Diego (next Feb. 23rd):  A Day Long Intensive Training in Robert Burney’s Spiritual Integration Formula for Inner Healing

Learning to Love our self – Inner Child Healing / Codependence Recovery

     “Codependence is an emotional and behavioral defense system which was adopted by our egos in order to meet our need to survive as a child.  Because we had no tools for reprogramming our egos and healing our emotional wounds (culturally approved grieving, training and initiation rites, healthy role models, etc.), the effect is that as an adult we keep reacting to the programming of our childhood and do not get our needs met – our emotional, mental, Spiritual, or physical needs.  Codependence allows us to survive physically but causes us to feel empty and dead inside.  Codependence is a defense system that causes us to wound ourselves.”

    “We need to take the shame and judgment out of the process on a personal level.  It is vitally important to stop listening and giving power to that critical place within us that tells us that we are bad and wrong and shameful.

    That “critical parent” voice in our head is the disease lying to us. . . .  This healing is a long gradual process – the goal is progress, not perfection.  What we are learning about is unconditional Love.  Unconditional Love means no judgment, no shame.”

    “We need to start observing ourselves and stop judging ourselves.  Any time we judge and shame ourselves, we are feeding back into the disease, we are jumping back into the squirrel cage.” – Quotations in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Codependence is a dysfunctional defense system that was built in reaction to feeling unlovable and unworthy – because our parents were wounded codependents who didn’t know how to love themselves.  We grew up in environments that were emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile, and shame based.  Our relationship with ourselves (and all the different parts of our self: emotions, gender, spirit, etc.) got twisted and distorted in order to survive in our particular dysfunctional environment.

We got to an age where we were supposed to be an adult and we started acting like we knew what we were doing.  We went around pretending to be adult at the same time we were reacting to the programming that we got growing up.  We tried to do everything “right” or rebelled and went against what we had been taught was “right.”  Either way we weren’t living our life through choice, we were living it in reaction.

In order to start being loving to ourselves we need to change our relationship with our self – and with all the wounded parts of our self.   The way which I have found works the best in starting to love ourselves is through having internal boundaries.

Learning to have internal boundaries is a dynamic process that involves three distinctly different, but intimately interconnected, spheres of work.  The purpose of the work is to change our ego-programming – to change our relationship with ourselves by changing our emotional/behavioral defense system into something that works to open us up to receive love, instead of sabotaging ourselves because of our deep belief that we don’t deserve love.

(I need to make the point here that Codependence and recovery are both multi-leveled, multi-dimensional phenomena. What we are trying to achieve is integration and balance on different levels. In regard to our relationship with ourselves this involves two major dimensions: the horizontal and the vertical. In this context the horizontal is about being human and relating to other humans and our environment. The vertical is Spiritual, about our relationship to a Higher Power, to the Universal Source. If we cannot conceive of a God/Goddess Force that loves us then it makes it virtually impossible to be loving to ourselves. So a Spiritual Awakening is absolutely vital to the process in my opinion. Changing our relationship with ourselves on the horizontal level is both a necessary element in, and possible because we are working on, integrating Spiritual Truth into our inner process.)

These three spheres are:

1.  Detachment

2.  Inner Child Healing

3.  Grieving

Because Codependence is a reactive phenomena it is vital to start being able to detach from our own process in order to have some choice in changing our reactions.  We need to start observing our selves from the witness perspective instead of from the perspective of the judge.

We all observe ourselves – have a place of watching ourselves as if from outside, or perched somewhere inside, observing our own behavior.  Because of our childhoods we learned to judge ourselves from that witness perspective, the “critical parent” voice.

The emotionally dishonest environments we were raised in taught us that it was not ok to feel our emotions, or that only certain emotions were ok.  So we had to learn ways to control our emotions in order to survive.  We adapted the same tools that were used on us – guilt, shame, and fear (and saw in the role modeling of our parents how they reacted to life from shame and fear.)  This is where the critical parent gets born.  It’s purpose is to try to keep our emotions and behavior under some sort of control so that we can get our survival needs met.

So the first boundary that we need to start setting internally is with the wounded / dysfunctionally programmed part of our own mind.  We need to start saying no to the inner voices that are shaming and judgmental.  The disease comes from a black and white, right and wrong, perspective.  It speaks in absolutes: “You always screw up!”  “You will never be a success!” – these are lies. We don’t always screw up. We may never be a success according to our parents or societies dysfunctional definition of success – but that is because our heart and soul do not resonate with those definitions, so that kind of success would be a betrayal of ourselves. We need to consciously change our definitions so that we can stop judging ourselves against someone else’s screwed up value system.

We learned to relate to ourselves (and all the parts of our self – emotions, sexuality, etc.) and life from a critical place of believing that something was wrong with us – and in fear that we would be punished if we didn’t do life “right.”  Whatever we are doing or not doing the disease can always find something to beat us up with.  I have 10 things on my “to do list” today, I get 9 of them done, the disease does not want me to give myself credit for what I have done but instead beats me up for the one I didn’t get done.  Whenever life gets too good we get uncomfortable and the disease jumps right in with fear and shame messages.  The critical parent voice keeps us from relaxing and enjoying life, and from loving our self.

We need to own that we have the power to choose where to focus our mind. We can consciously start viewing ourselves from the “witness” perspective.   It is time to fire the judge – our critical parent – and choose to replace that judge with our Higher Self, who is a loving parent. We can then intervene in our own process to protect ourselves from the perpetrator within – the critical parent/disease voice.

(It is almost impossible to go from critical parent to compassionate loving parent in one step – so the first step often is to try to observe ourselves from a neutral position or a “scientific observer” perspective.)

This is what enlightenment and consciousness raising are all about.  Owning our power to be a co-creator of our lives by changing our relationship with ourselves.  We can change the way we think.  We can change the way we respond to our own emotions. We need to detach from our wounded self in order to allow our Spiritual Self to guide us.  We are Unconditionally Loved.  The Spirit does not speak to us from judgment and shame.

One of the visualizations that has helped me over the years is an image of a small control room in my brain.  This control room is full of dials and gauges and lights and sirens. In this control room are a bunch of Keebler-like elves whose job it is to make sure that I don’t get too emotional for my own good.  Whenever I feel anything too strongly (including Joy, happiness, self-love) the lights start flashing and the sirens start wailing and the elves go crazy running around trying to get things under control.  They start pushing some of the old survival buttons:  feeling too happy – drink; feeling too sad- eat sugar; feeling scared – get laid; or whatever.

To me, the process of recovery is about teaching those elves to chill out.  Reprogramming my ego-defenses to knowing that it is okay to feel the feelings.  That feeling and releasing the emotions is not only okay it is what will work best in allowing me to have my needs fulfilled.

We need to change our relationship with ourselves and our own emotions in order to stop being at war with ourselves.  The first step to doing that is to detach from ourselves enough to start protecting ourselves from the perpetrator that lives within us.

The key to codependency recovery is the inner child healing work I describe on my site and in my second book (below.)  A key element of that work includes learning to set the internal boundaries I talk about in the article above.

Cover of Inner Child Healing book

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light – Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child

This book Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light – Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child is a process level – how to – book about the inner child healing approach discovered by Robert in his recovery.  The approach to inner child / emotional healing shared within is the missing piece – the missing perspective – of the puzzle of life that so many people have been seeking.  It is a formula for integrating intellectual knowledge and spiritual Truth into one’s emotional relationship with life.   It is the key to learning how to be more Loving to your self – and to turning life into an adventure to be experienced instead of an ordeal of suffering to be endured.

Joy to You & Me Enterprises offers an Empowering & Life Changing Intensive Training Day Workshop in San Diego with Spiritual Teacher, inner child healing pioneer Robert Burney.  Learn his innovative Spiritual Integration Formula for Inner Healing.  To find out the locations and dates for upcoming appearances go to Day of Intensive Training. (Next workshop is January 4th in San Diego.  The day after my 30th Sobriety Birthday.;-)

Making Healthy Choices During the Holidays

Love Your Self First
Love Your Self First

Happy Holidays is a greeting many people say even if they are feeling lonely or blue. We often hear people say that Christmas is about LOVE! So many of us respond to the Holiday Season by running around shopping for gifts, volunteering, making donations, preparing meals and planning our annual family traditions. We may act like one of Santa’s Elves in out in the workshop making toys for everyone we love all day and night.  We love this time of year but there can be times when it gets to be overwhelming and we tend to neglect the most important and only person we are responsible for our self!

I am reminded that the Holidays are not only about LOVE but are also celebration of birth and rebirth. The Winter Solstice is the time of the longest darkness and marks the point of  increasing light, the new beginning.  Hanukkah is a time for re-dedication.  Kwanzaa is a time of re-commitment.  These are all times of both celebration and  introspection.  A quiet time given to us so we can reflect on the past and consider what we want to create in our future for the New Year.

There is just one catch! With any new beginning, any birth or rebirth is a also an ending.  With every  ending there is sadness, feelings of loss and grief.  We may have lost someone close to us who will not be available to celebrate. We may have ended a relationship and feel the sadness during this time of year. We may have grief over the emotional unavailability of those family members we are celebrating with.  These are just a few examples of the ways that the Holiday Blues can creep in and make our lives unmanageable during the Holiday Season.

What I have to share with you today is a realization I had about my expectations of my self and how I recovered from the Holiday Blues using the Twelve Days of  Christmas to illustrate the recovery principles I teach the best because I need to learn to practice them all year long!

On the first day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me….Acceptance and Emotional Honesty

My version of  Happy  Holidays  includes completely is allowing myself to accept the reality of my life (looking at both the half of the glass that is full as well as the empty part) emotionally – that is, allowing myself to be emotionally honest with myself.

On the second day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me… Grief processing
Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

If I am feeling grief because I am alone during the Holidays it does not serve me to share that with someone who is not being  emotionally honest – someone who will shame me for not being cheerful.  If I am feeling hurt or scared or angry I will only share that with someone who is a safe person to share with emotionally – that is, they won’t discount and invalidate my feelings or try to fix me.

On the third day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me…Honoring my Feelings
Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

I don’t have to live up to some false expectations about how I “should” be feeling today.  It was my own self defeating behavior of trying to deny the pain and sadness, the anger and fear, while judging myself as shameful for not feeling what I “should” feel or being who I “should” be, that caused me to get depressed and suicidal.  When I am in my feeling process I actually am a lot happier and feel more Joy than I ever did before I learned how to be emotionally honest.

On the fourth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me…Friends in Recovery
Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing and Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

It was on Christmas about 10 years ago that I got clear that I was capable of feeling more than one feeling at once. I was sad that it was Christmas and I was alone. I had feelings of grief for all of those past Christmases that I was sad but never acknowledged it. and alone – which were very valid and legitimate feelings. But as I went around to various clubhouses and friend’s homes that were having open houses, I could feel happy to see people I cared about.  I could feel Joy and gratitude that I was in recovery and feeling my feelings at the same time I was owning the sadness of that day and the grief of all the lonely holidays that I had experienced.

On the fifth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me.. A Higher Power of my OWN understanding
Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

It is so very important to stop judging ourselves against someone elses standards and shaming ourselves due to a fantasy of where we “should be.”  We are exactly where we are supposed to be. We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience. We are perfect in our Spiritual Essence, we are perfectly where we are supposed to be on our Spiritual path and from a human perspective we will never do human perfectly.

On the sixth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Inner Child Healing
A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

A natural normal part of our human experience is feeling the  feelings – we need to accept that.  No one who is being  emotionally honest with themselves can go through the holidays  without feeling sadness and hurt, anger and fear. The good news is that the more we are able to own those emotions the more moments of peace, Joy, and happiness we can have.

On the seventh day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Awareness of my Fears
Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing and Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

I am aware of my feelings and my fears whether I am happy, merry, sad, Joyous, painful, peaceful, scared or cheerful in the moment. I am experiencing what it feels like to be alive in human body.

On the eighth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me…Time to Practice Self Care
Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing and Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

Practicing self care includes exercising, relaxing, taking care of yourself physically but it also includes learning to set boundaries and is vital part of learning to communicate in  a direct and honest manner. It is impossible to have a healthy  relationship with someone who has no boundaries, with someone who cannot  communicate directly and honestly.

On the ninth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me…Internal Boundaries 
(I may have preferred the Nine Ladies Dancing) Time to Practice Self Care, Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing and Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

Learning how to set internal boundaries is a necessary step in learning to be a friend to yourself. It is your responsibility to take care of yourself –  to protect yourself when it is necessary. It is impossible to learn to  be loving to yourself without owning yourself – owning your rights and responsibilities as co-creator of your life.

On the tenth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Positive Affirmations
Internal Boundaries,Time to Practice Self Care, Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

Positive Affirmations are the single most powerful and vital tool in the Recovery process.  Codependency is a condition caused by growing up in a shame-based, emotionally dishonest society which teaches us false beliefs about the nature and purpose of life.  We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience, not shameful, sinful human creatures who have to earn Spiritual salvation.We are magnificent Spiritual Beings full of light and LOVE!

On the eleventh day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Speaking my Own Truth
Positive Affirmations, Internal Boundaries, Time to Practice Self Care, Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

Owning our own voice is important for us to do for ourselves. Many of us have been crippled by the shame we experienced in our childhoods. By stating what we are feeling out loud without placing blame on the other person, we can begin to take responsibility for our personal truth. It is not important whether or not the other person hears us. It is important for us to do for ourselves. We can develop ourselves in being able to recognize that we are capable of asking for what we need as a request or invitation for others to participate or not. We will begin to attract those who are trustworthy and in the process we are recognized as our authentic selves not the masks that we have been wearing.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Prayer and Meditation
Positive Affirmations, Internal Boundaries, Time to Practice Self Care, Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN  understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief  Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

God Grant me the Serenity to Accept the Things I can not Change, The Willingness
to Change the Things I can and The Wisdom to know the Difference. AMEN.

Sending you Wishes of Joy and Peace,
Robert Burney
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MP3 Downloads of
Codependence-Dance of Wounded Souls and Inner Child Healing Workshop

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Life Changing
Telephone Counseling with Robert Burney
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Life Changing
Intensive Training
Inner Child Healing Workshop
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Robert Burney Give yourself the gift of Recovery