Codependency is based on false, dysfunctional beliefs that are learned from our parents and environment. Recovery entails changing those beliefs, the most damaging of which is that we’re not worthy of love and respect – that we’re somehow inadequate, inferior, or just not enough. This is internalized shame. Last year, I published a blog, “Codependency is based on Fake Facts,” explaining the effects of this programming, which squelches our true self.
Identify your beliefs
Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT is a marriage and family therapist. She is a relationship expert and author of “Codependency for Dummies” and “Conquering Codependency and Shame: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You,” as well as five ebooks. She has worked extensively in the field of addiction and codependency. Her work is informed by training in Self-Psychology, Voice-Dialogue, Dream Analysis, Jungian Therapy, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Somatic Work, EFT, and Hypnosis. She has also previously supervised other therapists as an AAMFT Approved Supervisor and practiced law as an entertainment attorney.
We must separate damaging beliefs from reality and from our truth. Most of us find it difficult to identify our core beliefs. They’re often unconscious. However, we can discover our beliefs from our behavior, our thoughts and feelings. Beliefs generate thoughts, feelings, and actions. (Sometimes feelings come before thoughts.)
Beliefs → Thoughts → Feelings→ Actions
Examining thoughts and feelings provides clues to underlying beliefs. Your thoughts might reveal a belief that something is bad or shameful. When feel we should or shouldn’t do something, it indicates a belief. Also notice how you judge others. We usually judge other for the same things we would judge ourselves.
Criticism and devaluing statements we heard growing up create insecurity and a belief of unlovability. List parental statements that impacted your self-esteem. (See Codependency for Dummies.) Examples are:
“You’re too sensitive,”
“You can’t do anything right.”
“I sacrificed for you.”
“You’re good for nothing.”
“Who do you think you are?”
Beliefs also come from experiences with siblings and peers, as well as other authority figures and cultural, societal, and religious influences. In all, our beliefs are a conglomerate of other people’s opinions. Usually, they’re not based on facts, and they may be challenged.
Over-reactions to people when we’re triggered are opportunities to analyze and challenge the thoughts, feelings, and the beliefs that are being activated. For example, if someone doesn’t return your call, do you feel hurt, guilty, ashamed, or angry? Do you assume they don’t like you, are angry at you, that you did something wrong, or that they’re inconsiderate? What is the story you weave, and what is the underlying belief?