Codependency, anger, and control all go hand in hand. Today, I’m happy to welcome my colleague Michelle Farris, LMFT, as guest blogger. Michelle is a psychotherapist specializing in anger and codependent relationships. In her post, Michelle explains howthree common codependent traits contribute to feelings of anger and how we can free ourselves of these dysfunctional patterns.
3 Codependent Traits That Breed Anger and Resentment by Michelle Farris, LMFT
Ahallmark of codependency is when seeking approval becomes more important thanself-care. Over time this creates a pattern of control.Melody Beattie, the author ofCodependent No More, defines a codependent as: “Someone who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who isobsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.”
This article focuses on three common traits of codependency: control, people-pleasing and the lie of being “fine. Here youll learn how to transform these traits into relationship assets.
Trying to change someone else’s behavior is exasperating. If you keep trying to help,you assume that the other person will eventually change. Even as a therapist, I cannotmake anyone do anything. People change when they’re ready.
In addictive relationships, the alcoholic is addicted to alcohol and the codependent isaddicted to the alcoholic.This means that the codependent’s happiness is wrapped upin the alcoholic. If their partner is happy and sober, life is perfect. But, living with analcoholic is far from perfect.
This control fuels unrealistic, unspoken expectations. You dont express your needs butassume they should be met. This can lead to years of resentment and anger until youfinally realize you dont have control.
Admitting that you can’t change others is the first step in recovery. It takes effort to takethe focus off of others, but this is how you learn to let go. When trying to control,youlose sight of your priorities. Learning what you need takes time and a willingness to letothers be.
The antidote for control is acceptance. Accepting people as they are is a big task, notjust for people struggling with codependency.
Al-Anon is a 12 step program that teaches how to let go of control while increasing self-care.The group is a gentle support to the harsh reality of addiction and self-neglect.
At the heart of each codependent person lies a generous soul. You have a sinceredesire to ease suffering. It’s uncomfortable when your partner is hurting. Helping feelslike its own reward – until it stops working.
For instance, you find that you’re a people-pleaser and can’t say no. Doing favors for friends and family nowfeels overwhelming. You can’t ask for help because you have the belief that you shoulddo it by yourself. Saying no is considered selfish rather than good self-care.
You are the superhero because you do it all without breaking a sweat. Internally,you’regetting sick and tired of it. You keep up the smiles until it finally starts to leak out.Sarcastic comments are made thatyou didn’t mean to say.This gets scary becauseyou’re beginning to lose control. You can no longer say yes and mean it.
The anger of being the hero is in feeling unappreciated. Wanting recognition but neverasking for it sets others up for confusion and you for resentment.
The antidote to being the superhero is being honest about your limits. Family, physicalhealth and leisure time get tossed aside when you try tobe everything to everyone.Thiscreates an intense level of stress both mentally and physically.
Being a superhero means that on the outside you look really good. You’re known forbeing invaluable and generous to a fault. If you give at your own expense it starts apattern of resentment. You think nothing of it because it feels good to say yes.
Soon people start expecting continued favors. You feel indispensable which reinforces that people-pleasing behavior.
Saying “I’m fine” instead of admitting overwhelm creates resentment. Ignoring your ownfeelings in order to be liked becomes a bad habit. You hope these feelings ofresentment will go away but they don’t.
It doesnt even occur to you to ask for help. But youre getting tired and its beginning to show up in emotional outbursts. You may start getting sick. Expecting others to step injust doesnt happen. You end up stewing all by yourself.
The antidote for the lie of being fine is to admit how you feel. Let it out! Admit to yourself that youwant a change. Write in a journal. Talk to a trusted friend and share your overwhelm.Start counseling if you need more support.
Don’t expect others to anticipate your needs. Ask for them directly. By doing this youll see if your relationships are reciprocal. If they arent, you might reconsider how much you want to participate. You may choose to leave. Either way, these relationships can be great teachers for practicing self-care.
Once you start setting limits youll be surprised at how easily most people accept theanswer no. However, family and friends may not like it. It takes time to reestablish anew, healthier connection. Start with the people you feel most comfortable with andpractice saying no or expressing your honest opinion.
Being codependent often means putting all of your emotional eggs in one personsbasket. That makes it tough when things start to unravel. Instead, increase your supportsystem. Al-Anon is a great way to do that.
Remember that most fears never come true. In 12 step programs, the acronym FEAR isknown as False Evidence Appearing Real. Its just your mind trying to get you not tochange. Those negative thoughts within ourselves are powerful but if we let them ruleus, we dont heal.
Being sick and tired of doing the same thing and expecting different results is Al-Anonsdefinition of insanity.
Be willing to do something different. You’ll be glad you did.
About the author:
Michelle Farris, LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist in San Jose, CA who helps people with anger, codependency, relationship issues, and substance abuse. Be sure to sign-up for Michelle’s FREE 5-Day Anger Management Email Courseand her Resource Library.
2016 Michelle Farris. All rights reserved. Photo by: Neil Conway