Rarely the primary focus, codependency issues are often identified in connection to the treatment of a family member with an addiction. A person in a significant relationship with someone addicted to a substance or activity is at risk of developing a set of behaviors (also an addictive pattern) from which they too need healing to restore life balance, integrity and peace of mind.
Codependent persons have a developed ability to “read” the moods of others, and take pleasure in “knowing” what others want, how to pacify or appease. Pleasing others, however, is rooted in fear, and a wishful fantasy or expectation that, somehow or someday, the ones they seek to please will recognize, appreciate, and value them for the efforts they make.
This set of behaviors, sometimes referred to as “enabling,” is known as “codependency” or “co-addiction.”
Most understand the links between our thoughts or self-talk and our emotions and feelings — not so with emotion-drives. How can they be as as real as our physical needs for food and water? In Part 1 emotion-drives were described as action-motivating factors that propel us to take action from within to matter and meaningfully connect to life within and around us.
The concept of “emotion-drives” as life shaping and connected to our health and survival is more challenging to understand. And, we rarely think of or explain our own or other’s behaviors in terms of these powerful universal strivings.
This is surprising when we consider that several top psychological theorists in the 20th century, among others, Alfred Adler, Abraham Maslow, Rollo May and William Glasser, viewed human behavior as primarily motivated or purpose-driven to meet social needs, such as love, belonging, contribution, all of which are emotional in nature.
Why the disconnect?
Emotion mastery, or the ability to regulate our emotions, is essential to our personal and relational health and happiness. It is a built-in capacity that must be cultivated, yet often ignored. No easy task, this inner work requires an ongoing willingness to develop awareness of our emotions and feelings, and an openness to feeling and understanding them.
Like gauges, emotions are status checks, personal messages our body-mind (subconscious) sends at any given moment to keep us (conscious-mind) informed on what most concerns us.
Essentially, emotions tell us where we are or how well we’re doing, so to speak, in relation to what and where we most aspire to be in life, with regard to the following:
Emotions may be triggered by what’s going on around us, however, our emotion-responses are primarily activated by a combination of internal factors, that:
Conscious communication is a window into the world of our heart and mind – and another’s from their vantage point.
As a tool, it’a a way to manage the energies we bring to our communications, so that we remain consciously aware of what is going on inside of us, our feelings, thoughts, what we want and need, and so on, without getting triggered.
In Part 1 we described eight attributes of a conscious way of talking. In this post, the focus is on attributes of conscious-listening.
Conscious-listening is a way of being intentionally present to see, to know and to recognize our own and another’s felt presence and unique value in the relationship. Safe to say, it’s not possible to authentically love another, without being willing to freely give the essential gift of listening. In other words, if we’re not genuinely listening to another, sooner or later, they will stop listening to us. (They have no choice, it’s physics.)
Listening as critical to healthy relationships?
Listening is perhaps the most critical component of effective communication. That’s because we are hardwired with emotion-drives that propel us to feel known, heard, understood, valued, and so on, aspects of our overarching drive to do more than merely survive life, to also thrive, to matter and meaningfully connect in relation to life around us. In fact, our drive to thrive in life is also critical to our physical health and survival, as stress directly impacts our health, emotional, mental and physical, in negative ways.
As important as it is to resolve past or present problems, for example, when one or both parties lack empathic listening skills, problems quickly rise to the level of seeming “impossible” to solve. Why?
Since most relationship problems are rooted in communications that are either avoided, forced or misinterpreted, the purpose is to provide an emotional experience that allows each person to feel safe enough to grow a quality relationship in which key emotional needs (not wants…) are expressed, mutually valued – and met through natural giving.
(To give naturally, by the way, is to give from a place of overall love or joy, as opposed to fear or guilt or shame.)
When you express your self in ways that stretch you, particularly in moments where you may not “feel” like doing so, you exercise your ability to stretch and courageously develop the capacity to authentically love your self and another.
But not because men and women are from different planets. As a recent study showed, in truth, both are from the same planet Earth; they share more in common, at least intellectually, mentally and emotionally, than they are different.
And the differences? Well, let’s just say, “Vive la difference!”
Myths that baffle men and women?
You wouldn’t know how much men and women have in common from what science and other writings have proclaimed for centuries, and in more recent decades, media and entertainment industries (and especially pornography) have reinforced and embellished mythical portrayals of women as potentially dangerous to men, akin to unruly children who must be dominated, not trusted or spoiled (“for their own good”).
Myths of romanticized dominance (eroticized, for men) still prevail. It’s not unusual for male partners to think its their job, on the one hand, to fix or set their partners straight, tell them what to do or think, scold or punish if she doesn’t follow his advice, and then blame her for making him feel inadequate for not allowing him to do his job.
While it may feel he has failed, the real problem largely lies in a set of strategies men are conditioned from boyhood to use in order to deliberately block emotional intimacy.
Also like anger, lemons are balancing agents. They cleanse and set the pH in your body in balance. At the same time, they were never intended by nature to be digested as a main course.
The health benefits of lemons are many, in other words, if you know when and how much to use in proportion to other ingredients, and so on.
Similarly, anger is an emotion that activates, as an agent that helps you regulate and reset the balance of seemingly opposing inner strivings — to stay connected to your self and life around you – yet never meant to be overused as an emotion to hide or to hide behind.
The holidays are when our hope for good will and joy, love and meaningful connections is kindled. Perhaps because of this they can also be times of stress and emotional ups and downs when hopes are dashed. Like it or not, we are relationship beings after all. From the cradle to the grave according to researcher John Bowlby, nothing concerns our brains and bodies more.
The bottom line is this: Most all human behaviors are motivated by our inner hardwired emotional strivings to meaningfully connect with others and life, to matter. As real as inner drives for physical sustenance, we’re wired with core emotional drives, or needs, to love and be loved, to be recognized and valued, to find purpose — and contribute one’s love in life, and feel our love matters.
A new sort of infidelity has been on the rise for decades, and it’s one of the biggest threats to marriage: ‘emotional affairs.’ Today’s workplace has become the new danger zone of opportunities for ‘emotional affairs,’ surpassed only by the Internet.
A relationship without sex can be just as intense, or more so than a sexual one. Not surprisingly, in most cases, approximately 80% according to Dr. Shirley Glass, author of Not Just Friends: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity, the dynamics of these platonic liaisons crosses over into sexual love sooner or later.
Why the crisis?
To understand the intensity of emotional infidelity, it helps to see the dynamics as an addiction, a form of addictive love. That’s because it’s easier to let go of a toxic pattern when you depersonalize the experience.