This is a chapter from my book Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth
“Learning discernment is vital – not just in terms of the choices we make about who to trust, but also in terms of our perspective, our attitudes.
We learned about life as children and it is necessary to change the way we intellectually view life in order to stop being the victim of the old tapes. By looking at, becoming conscious of, our attitudes, definitions, and perspectives, we can start discerning what works for us and what does not work. We can then start making choices about whether our intellectual view of life is serving us – or if it is setting us up to be victims because we are expecting life to be something which it is not.” – Quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls
I spoke in the Author’s Foreword to this book about how “We were set up to feel like failures in romantic relationships by the dysfunctional perspectives and expectations of love and romance we learned growing up.” And as I mentioned while referring to the three blind men describing the elephant joke quote from my book at the beginning of the Author’s Foreword, in order to change our relationship with anything we need to change our perspective of it. That means getting conscious of what perspectives we are reacting out of and starting to ask “Is my intellectual view of love and romance working for me?”
What is so important is to stop blaming your self – or the people you have been involved with – for the problems you have had in relationships. You were truly set up – as were the people you were involved with. It is not your fault! You were brainwashed and conditioned to have an intellectual perspective of love and romance that is dysfunctional, that doesn’t work because it is based upon fairy tale thinking. And it is vital to realize that the programming from your childhood is still in your subconscious dictating how you are reacting to life even if you have consciously discarded that thinking as an adult.
It is not your fault!! That is a huge thing to realize. That is great news!! And you have the power to change it! More great news!!! You can change it by getting into codependency recovery / inner child healing, doing the the work I talk about on my website Joy2MeU.com and in my book: Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing.
There is nothing wrong with who we are – it is our relationship with our self and romance that got messed up in childhood. We have the power to change that programming in order to change how we are relating to our self – this is really great news!
“Inner child work is in one way detective work. We have a mystery to solve. Why have I have I been attracted to the the type of people that I have been in relationship with in my life? Why do I react in certain ways in certain situations? Where did my behavior patterns come from? Why do I sometimes feel so: helpless; lonely; desperate; scared; angry; suicidal; etc.
Just starting to ask these types of questions, is the first step in the healing process. It is healthy to start wondering about the cause and effect dynamics in our life.
In our codependence, we reacted to life out of a black and white, right and wrong, belief paradigm that taught us that is was shameful and bad to be wrong, to make mistakes, to be imperfect – to be human. We formed our core relationship with our self and with life in early childhood based on the messages we got, the emotional trauma we suffered, and the role modeling of the adults around us. As we grew up, we built our relationship with self, other people, and life on the foundation we formed in early childhood.
When we were 5, we were already reacting to life out of the emotional trauma of earlier ages. We adapted defenses to try to protect ourselves and to get our survival needs met. The defenses adapted at 5 due to the trauma suffered at earlier ages led to further trauma when we were 7 that then caused us to adjust our defenses, that led to wounding at 9, etc., etc., etc.
Toxic shame is the belief that there is something inherently wrong with who we are, with our being. Guilt is “I made a mistake, I did something wrong.” Toxic shame is: “I am a mistake. There is something wrong with me.”
It is very important to start awakening to the Truth that there is nothing inherently wrong with our being – it is our relationship with our self and with life that is dysfunctional. And that relationship was formed in early childhood.
The way that one begins inner child healing is simply to become aware.
To become aware that the governing principle in life is cause and effect.
To become aware that our relationship with our self is dysfunctional.
To become aware that we have the power to change our relationship with our self.
To become aware that we were programmed with false beliefs about the purpose and nature of life in early childhood – and that we can change that programming.
To become aware that we have emotional wounds from childhood that it is possible to get in touch with and heal enough to stop them from dictating how we are living our life today.
That is the purpose of inner child healing – to stop letting our experiences of the past dictate how we respond to life today. It cannot be done without revisiting our childhood.
We need to become aware, to raise our consciousness. To create a new level of consciousness for ourselves that allows us to observe ourselves.
It is vitally important to start observing ourselves – our reactions, our feelings, our thoughts – from a detached witness place that is not shaming.
We all have an inner critic, a critical parent voice, that beats us up with shame, judgment, and fear. The critical parent voice developed to try to control our emotions and our behaviors because we got the message there was something wrong with us and that our survival would be threatened if we did, said, or felt the “wrong” things.
It is vital to start learning how to not give power to that critical shaming voice. We need to start observing ourselves with compassion. This is almost impossible at the beginning of the inner child healing process – having compassion for our self, being Loving to our self, is the hardest thing for us to do.
So, we need to start observing ourselves from at least a more neutral perspective. Become a scientific observer, a detective – the Sherlock Holmes of your own inner process as it were.
We need to start being that detective, observing ourselves and asking ourselves where that reaction / thought / feeling is coming from. Why am I feeling this way? What does this remind me of from my past? How old do I feel right now? How old did I act when that happened?” – Inner Child Healing – How to begin
Recognition, awareness, is the first step in healing. Becoming aware is the beginning of getting to know our self – so that we can start 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 – which means we can’t see other people clearly either. As long as we are reacting to life out of toxic shame and the fear of being wrong – we are not capable of seeing our self with any compassion or objectivity.
Growing up in codependent cultures we learned that self worth was a competitive issue because we were taught to have ego strength through comparison – better grades than, prettier than, better athlete than, nicer person than, etc. We don’t love our neighbor as our self because we did not get taught to love our self – and because we are comparing out self to our neighbor, trying to feel good about our self by feeling better than them.
We need to learn to stop buying into the dynamics of codependency – outer or external focus, competitive comparison, destination thinking, keeping up appearances, looking good (or at least not looking bad), worrying about what other people think of us, trying to avoid being wrong, trying to always be right. trying to overcome the shame of being an imperfect human being – in order to start understanding our self and why we have lived our life the way we have. It is necessary to start learning how to have compassion for our self – and learn to accept that we are lovable and worthy – in order to become available to be loved.
We need to become – as I said in the quote from my inner child healing article above – the Sherlock Holmes of our own inner process so that we can start changing the programming – stop having perspectives and expectations of romance and love that are dysfunctional. We need to start becoming more conscious and owning our power to change how we are relating to love and romance – change our relationship with our self, life, and other people into ones that work better to help us find some Joy and Love in life.
“The only way that we can be in recovery from codependency is to start changing the way we are looking at, and relating to, our self. We have to get more conscious of what is going on inside of us in order to change how we are relating to our self – so that we can change the way we relate to life and other people.
In other words, we need to start taking responsibility for our own lives. We need to start owning our power to change our relationship with self. We need to start learning how to make choices instead of just react. We can have the ability to respond – response ability – to life differently once we start becoming more conscious.
And the key to becoming more conscious is to start learning how to process what is going on in our lives in a way that will give us more clarity.
“The process of processing is a dynamic that in many ways is easier to demonstrate over time than it is to explain. Explaining it on an intellectual level is complicated and difficult because the process itself involves being able to look at multiple levels. The recovery process is spiritual, emotional, and mental. These levels are separate but intimately interrelated.
In learning how to achieve some emotional balance in our lives, it is necessary to be able to look at our self, our own inner process, and the life dynamic itself, from different perspectives. It is this looking at different levels that is the process of processing. Processing is a matter of looking at, filtering, discerning, getting clear about what is happening at any given moment in our relationship with life, with ourselves, with everything that is stimulating us.” – The Recovery Process for inner child healing 1: Sharing my experience, strength, and hope
Consciousness involves being actively conscious of how different parts of us are reacting to whatever is happening in our lives at any particular moment. I learned that I needed to observe / keep scanning / paying attention to / taking inventory of, what was happening in my internal dynamic and in my external environment continually in order to be on guard so that I wasn’t allowing the old tapes and wounds from the past to define and dictate my experience of life today.
“It is in relationship to learning how to set internal boundaries that the process of processing is so important. Processing involves observing our own internal dynamic. Observing our thoughts and feelings. It is very important to raise our consciousness, to become more conscious, of our own process.
When we start observing our internal process then we can start discerning between the different levels involved – we can start separating out the codependent, dysfunctional messages from the information that is useful and informative. Then we can start setting internal boundaries within the mental, between the mental and emotional, and within the emotional levels of our being.” – The Recovery Process for inner child healing 4 – the process of processing – internal boundaries
Codependency is not an issue we deal with and then get on with our lives. Recovery is a way of life. It is necessary to move through our life with consciousness in order to stop the childhood programming from running our lives. The more we recover, the less power the old tapes and old wounds have – but they do not go away.
“It is through healing our inner child, our inner children, by grieving the wounds that we suffered, that we can change our behavior patterns and clear our emotional process. We can release the grief with its pent-up rage, shame, terror, and pain from those feeling places which exist within us.
That does not mean that the wound will ever be completely healed. There will always be a tender spot, a painful place within us due to the experiences that we have had. What it does mean is that we can take the power away from those wounds. By bringing them out of the darkness into the Light, by releasing the energy, we can heal them enough so that they do not have the power to dictate how we live our lives today. We can heal them enough to change the quality of our lives dramatically. We can heal them enough to Truly be happy, Joyous and free in the moment most of the time.”
In recovery we are developing a sense of balance, a feeling for what balance feels like, so that we can catch ourselves when we are swinging out of balance. We are here to experience being human and to do this healing. If we are not in recovery, then we can not be consciously present in the moment to enjoy our journey. I did not title my book the “dance” of wounded souls just out of poetic whimsy – life is a dance.
“Emotional balance is not a destination. It is a constantly changing dance. In doing our reprogramming intellectually, and our emotional and Spiritual healing – we are changing the music of our dance. We are choosing to have the opportunity to dance with Love and Joy, to dance in Light and Truth – instead of in darkness and disharmony. In order to have the capacity to dance with Love and Joy, we must first be willing to dance with our anger and fear, with the pain and sadness. Through owning our wounded inner children, we get to uncover and release the spontaneous, playful, Joyous Spiritual child within that is the one who will lead us home to LOVE.
Balance in dancing is about having a feeling for equilibrium, moving in harmony, adjusting, balancing, rebalancing. Likewise our inner dance of finding balance is an ongoing process – ever changing, fluctuating, oscillating in tune with the vibrational rhythms. Once we learn to have a sense of balance, a feeling for emotional clarity, then we are able to adjust and rebalance more quickly when some external (life event, other people’s behavior) or internal (wounded child reaction, old tape kicking in) stimuli throws us out of balance.” – The Recovery Process for inner child healing 4 – the process of processing – internal boundaries
The more conscious we become, the more we can relax and enjoy the journey.
“The healthier we get, the more emotional healing we do, the less extreme our emotional reaction / response spectrum grows. The growth process works kind of like a pendulum swinging. The less we buy into the toxic shame and judgment, the less extreme the swings of the pendulum become. The arc of our emotional pendulum becomes gentler, and we can return to emotional balance much quicker and easier. But we don’t get to stay in the balance position. Life is always rocking our boat – setting our emotional pendulum to swinging. By not taking life events and other peoples behavior so seriously and personally, by observing our process with some degree of detachment instead of getting so hooked into the trauma drama soap opera victimology that is a reaction to our childhood wounds, we learn to not give so much power over our emotions to outside influences and events.
I have choices today in regard to how I am relating to myself, to other people, to life. I am able to accept the things I cannot change much more quickly, and change the primary thing which I have the power to change – that is, my attitude toward the things I cannot change – so that I do not get caught up in a victim perspective. By not buying into the illusion that I am a victim – of myself, of other people, of life – my emotional swings stay on a much evener keel and I experience a much gentler emotional spectrum in my day to day relationship with life.” – Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 1
In my recovery I realized that about 90% of the stress in my life before codependency recovery was caused by the attitudes and beliefs I was empowering. Once I got aware of how my perspectives and expectations (which were reactions to my childhood programming and emotional wounds and therefore something I was powerless over until I got conscious of them) were setting me up to be a victim, then I could start owning the power to change my emotional experience of life . Then I could start to take responsibility for my life and eliminate the stress that I was creating in reaction to dysfunctional programming.” – Joy2MeU Update August 2002
As I have mentioned in the quote above, there are multiple levels and facets to the process of recovery.
“The individual human being is a fully contained system involving multiple interrelationships within multiple levels. This is easy to see, and understand, when looking at the physical level. The interrelationship of the organs to each other, to the blood, to the skin, to the nervous system, etc. – is a dance of grand, and compelling, complexity.
Just as grand, and compelling, is the complexity of the dance of interrelationship between the mental, emotional, and spiritual components/levels that dynamically interact to form the make up of the individual being – the persona, personality, consciousness, of the self. The more awareness is acquired about the different levels of the self, and the interrelationships between those levels, the easier it becomes to diagnose the dysfunctional interaction dynamics.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Author’s Foreword
One of the levels of codependency recovery is intellectual – becoming aware of the conscious and subconscious intellectual programming so that we can start changing the programming that is not working for us. Another level is the emotional. We have a dysfunctional relationship with our own emotions because grew up in emotionally dishonest, dysfunctional cultures.
“We were trained to be dishonest. We also got taught to be emotionally dishonest. We got told not to feel our feelings with messages like, don’t cry, don’t be afraid – at the same time we saw how our parents lived life out of fear. We got messages that it was not okay to be too happy when our exuberance was embarrassing to our parents. Many of us grew up in environments where it was not okay to be curious, or adventurous, or playful. It was not okay to be a child.
In any society where:
emotional dishonesty is not just the standard but the goal (keep up appearances, don’t show vulnerability);
as children we learned that we had power over other people’s feelings (you make me angry, you hurt my feelings, etc.);
being emotional is considered negative (falling apart, loosing it, coming unglued, etc.);
gender stereotypes set twisted, unhealthy models for acceptable emotional behavior (real men don’t cry or get scared, it is not ladylike to get angry);
parents without healthy self esteem see their children as extensions of self that can be either assets or deficits in their own quest for self worth;
families are isolated from any true reality of community or tribal support;
shame, manipulation, verbal and emotional abuse are considered standard tools for behavior modification in a loving relationship;
long embedded societal attitudes support the belief that it is shameful to be human (make mistakes, not be perfect, to be selfish, etc.);
any human being is denigrated and held to be less worthy for any inherent characteristic (gender, race, looks, etc.);
results in a very emotionally unhealthy society.
We were set up to be codependent. We were trained and programmed in childhood to be dishonest with ourselves and others. We were taught false, dysfunctional concepts of success, romance, love, life. We could not have lived our lives differently because there was no one to teach us how to be healthy. We were doing the best we knew how with the tools, beliefs, and definitions we had – just as our parents were doing the best they knew how.
We have new tools now. We have information and knowledge that was not available until recently. We can change the way we live our lives. It is important to stop shaming ourselves for living life the way we were programmed to live, in order to start learning how to live in a way that is more functional – in a way that works to help us have some peace and happiness in our lives. The only way to be free of the past is to start seeing it more clearly – without shame and judgment – so that we can take advantage of this wonderful time of healing that has begun.
Codependency has been the human condition. We now have the knowledge and power to change our relationship with ourselves. That is how we can change the human condition.” – The Condition of Codependency
One of the reasons communication is so hard between people is because we were never taught how to understand our own internal communication. We were taught to focus externally and to have a dysfunctional relationship with our own emotions.
“Emotions have two vitally important purposes for human beings. Emotions are a form of communication. Our feelings are one of the means by which we define ourselves. The interaction of our intellect and our emotions determines how we relate to ourselves.
Our emotional energy is also the fuel that propels us down the pathways of our life journey. E-motions are the orchestra that provide the music for our individual dances – that dictate the rhythmic flow and movement of our human dance. Our feelings help us to define ourselves and then provide the combustible fuel that dictates the speed and direction of our motion – rather we are flowing with it or damming it up within ourselves.” – Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2
All human beings feel the same basic emotions. All human beings have the same basic emotional dynamics – and the same fundamental internal dynamics in terms of the interrelationship of the mental and emotional components of our beings. Codependency can look very different on the outside – but the internal dynamics are the same. I sometimes compare codependency to Baskin & Robins (an ice cream franchise that advertised that they had 64 flavors) saying, there may be 64 flavors but it is all still ice cream. My codependence may look very different from yours on the outside, but the internal dynamics are basic and the same for all humans.
It is so important to learn to become more conscious of our own internal dynamics – and learn to intervene to set internal boundaries so that we don’t let the old tapes / programming cause us to shame and judge ourselves for being imperfect human beings. If we don’t start stopping the shame and judgment internally, we will not ever be available to be in a relationship that is loving.
“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. Any shaming, judgmental voice inside of us is the disease talking to us – and it is always lying. This disease of Codependence is very adaptable, and it attacks us from all sides. The voices of the disease that are totally resistant to becoming involved in healing and Recovery are the same voices that turn right around and tell us, using Spiritual language, that we are not doing Recovery good enough, that we are not doing it right.
We need to become clear internally on what messages are coming from the disease, from the old tapes, and which ones are coming from the True Self – what some people call “the small quiet voice.”
We need to turn down the volume on those loud, yammering voices that shame and judge us and turn up the volume on the quiet Loving voice. As long as we are judging and shaming ourselves we are feeding back into the disease, we are feeding the dragon within that is eating the life out of us. Codependence is a disease that feeds on itself – it is self-perpetuating.
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.”
I had to become more aware of my own internal process to start recognizing when I was reacting to old tapes and old wounds. As long as I was not aware, then I was doomed to keep repeating my patterns of reacting to extremes – I was powerless. By becoming more aware I could start owning the power to make choices – to be discerning – about what I allow to run my life, what attitudes and feelings I am allowing to define my self and my life experience. Then I could start setting internal boundaries so that I could take power away from the old tapes and the old wounds.
“I needed to learn how to set boundaries within, both emotionally and mentally by integrating Spiritual Truth into my process. Because “I feel feel like a failure” does not mean that is the Truth. The Spiritual Truth is that “failure” is an opportunity for growth. I can set a boundary with my emotions by not buying into the illusion that what I am feeling is who I am. I can set a boundary intellectually by telling that part of my mind that is judging and shaming me to shut up, because that is my disease lying to me. I can feel and release the emotional pain energy at the same time I am telling myself the Truth by not buying into the shame and judgment.
If I am feeling like a “failure” and giving power to the “critical parent” voice within that is telling me that I am a failure – then I can get stuck in a very painful place where I am shaming myself for being me. In this dynamic I am being the victim of myself and also being my own perpetrator – and the next step is to rescue myself by using one of the old tools to go unconscious (food, alcohol, sex, etc.) Thus the disease has me running around in a squirrel cage of suffering and shame, a dance of pain, blame, and self-abuse.
By learning to set a boundary with and between our emotional truth, what we feel, and our mental perspective, what we believe – in alignment with the Spiritual Truth we have integrated into the process – we can honor and release the feelings without buying into the false beliefs.
The more we can learn intellectual discernment within, so that we are not giving power to false beliefs, the clearer we can become in seeing and accepting our own personal path. The more honest and balanced we become in our emotional process, the clearer we can become in following our own personal Truth.”
What we are doing in recovery is learning to live life by the rules that life actually works by – in alignment with metaphysical law – instead of the rules we learned as children which do not work at all. Trying to do things “right” / perfect or find the “right” person to help us get to “happily-ever-after” doesn’t work.
“One of the reasons for the human dilemma, for the confusion that humans have felt about the meaning and purpose of life, is that more than one level of reality comes into play in the experience of being human. Trying to apply the Truth of one level to the experience of another has caused humans to become very confused and twisted in our perspective of the human experience. It is kind of like the difference between playing the one-dimensional chess that we are familiar with, and the three-dimensional chess played by the characters of Star Trek – they are two completely different games.
That is the human dilemma – we have been playing the game with the wrong set of rules. With rules that do not work. With rules that are dysfunctional.” – Author’s Foreword from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls
The rules we learned for romantic relationships are even more dysfunctional than the rules we learned for doing life in general. It is vital to get more awareness so that we can practice discernment and own our power to change our relationship with self, with life, with other people – especially with another person in a romantic relationship.
The articles in this section of the book will hopefully help you in your understanding: of how you were programmed and brainwashed with dysfunctional perspectives – and that you can change that programming; of how you were taught to have a dysfunctional relationship with your own emotions so that you don’t know how to be emotionally honest and intimate with your self – let alone with another person; of how to have a perspective of metaphysics that is balanced enough to help you be healthier in your relationships with your self and life now. I will also be sharing how I was able to heal my fear of intimacy enough to go from having a relationship phobia to being in a successful relationship for many years now. I hope you find this information helpful. – Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth Chapter 21 – Uncover, Discover, Recover Consciousness / Awareness + Discernment can help us find balance
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Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth eBook 2: Deeper Within (emotionally) & Further Out (metaphysically) From Fear of Intimacy to Twin Souls (chapters 21 through 40 of The Greatest Arena) is available on Amazon and Amazon UK, on Barnes & Noble, or in Kobo format.
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