We all came into this world as happy little bundles of love. As children we emanated unconditional love, joy, and natural contentment. As we grew older, however, many of us received the experience of conditional love from our parents, siblings, friends, and teachers. We learned that if we thought, felt, and acted in ways that pleased the people around us, then we too could feel at ease. This is the heart of co-dependency. It is a simple misunderstanding about the nature of love. It is the belief that love is conditional and must come from outside of ourselves. The good news is that we can unlearn these patterns of codependency and reclaim our own energy and power by refocusing our attention inward.
The reality is that love exists as a vibration of energy that is flowing within each one of us in every moment, and the supply is unlimited. This is hard for many to understand, let alone feel in their day to day lives. This has caused many people to be in a state of constantly seeking this nourishment from outside sources. We learn, as early as childhood, that we can feel this sense of love when we control the people and circumstances around us, giving ourselves the chance to relax and feel at ease (if only temporarily). Trying to change, appease, or manipulate other people is a form of unhealthy self-centeredness that can be called co-dependency. You are dependent on another for your own happiness and sense of self worth.
It is important to recognize that almost everyone has been conditioned to search outside the Self for love, that many of our familial traditions and cultural values reinforce this behavioral pattern. Yet the greatest gift we can give ourselves (and others) is to take full responsibility for our own mental, emotional, and physical well-being in every moment. In fact, our own state of being is the only thing in life that we actually can control with any amount of certainty. We have absolute control over how we think, feel and act, independent of how anybody else thinks, feels, or acts. As we redirect our attention towards taking care of ourselves first, we are learning the healthy art of self-centeredness.
This can be challenging, for many of us have learned throughout our lives that it is not okay to be self-centered, and that a “good” person puts others ahead of themselves. The truth is that when we neglect to find the love within first, we have very little to offer anybody else anyway. We then feel like we are giving more than we are getting. In relationship this manifests as resentment, becoming bitter, frustrated, and angry that our friend or partner isn’t giving us the attention or love that we need. We become over enmeshed in each other’s lives, trying to control the other person’s behaviors, and can end up feeling weighed down and uninspired.
So the first step to healing co-dependency is to begin recognizing the day to day thoughts and behaviors that you have been conditioned to believe are expressions of love, but are actually co-dependent. In what ways are you sacrificing yourself in order to make other people in your life happy (your partner, your family, your friends, your boss or coworkers) In what ways do you seek validation from outside yourself or put other people’s needs ahead of your own? In what ways do you take care of others with the belief that they should then take care of you?
The paradox is that when we begin to really honor our own needs, we experience a sense of fulfillment, peace, and vitality that is much more satisfying than that of pleasing other people. And it is only once we find this love within first, that we can truly offer our love to others with no strings attached. In fact, when we take the time to connect to our own source of love we usually feel a strong desire to share our love with those around us. This is the nature of love, it always seeks to share and give more of itself for the upliftment of all. So by truly being self-centered we discover an endless reservoir of energy and love for others.
You can begin to cut the cords of co-dependency by choosing, in the moment you notice a co-dependent behavior, to stop and “tend to your own vibration”–meaning, find the loving energy within… There is an art to connecting to this love, and learning to tend to one’s own vibration first and foremost…
Up next: The Art of Self-Centeredness–Tending to Your Own Vibration