Codependency For Dummies
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Do you have empathy and compassion for yourself? This is the core of self-nurturing. Children need it to thrive and build a separate psychological self. Children need their feelings mirrored and their needs accepted and met. Codependents didn’t get that, and so it may be hard for you to give it to yourself.

Once grown, you still have emotional needs. Couples end up fighting when their emotions don’t get honored by one another and when they don’t feel listened to and understood. Perhaps you can do that for your partner, but you ignore your own needs. This is typical of codependents. Some of your emotional needs include

  • Acceptance

  • Empathy

  • Encouragement

  • Comfort

  • Guidance

  • Love

  • Play

  • Respect

  • Reliability

  • Understanding

Self-love means meeting these emotional needs. If fact, it’s your responsibility to be your own parent and meet your emotional needs, irrespective of whether or not you’re in a relationship. Of course, there are times you need support, touch, understanding, and encouragement from others. However, the more you practice self-nurturing, the better your relationships will be. You can be an even better mother to yourself than your own mother was, for who knows better than you what are your deepest feelings and needs?

When you’re feeling out of sorts, see if doing any of these six things helps:

  • Get in the habit of asking yourself what you need when you feel bad.

  • Journal.

  • Go to a Twelve Step meeting.

  • Call a friend.

  • Do something pleasurable.

  • Forgive yourself for mistakes.

Beware of self-judgment. Feelings aren’t rational, so don’t judge them. Practice accepting whatever you feel, even if you don’t know why you feel the way you do. What are most important are the positive actions you take to nurture yourself. Many codependents think, “I shouldn’t be angry (sad, afraid, depressed, and so on).” It may be what you were told as a child if your feelings were shamed. This type of self-judgment is often the cause of irritability and depression.

Adapted from the article “10 Tips to self-love and compassion,” by Darlene Lancer.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in relationships and codependency. Ms. Lancer has counseled individuals and couples for 28 years and coaches internationally. She's a sought-after speaker to professionals at national conferences and in the media.

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