I had not heard this particular phrase to describe a key symptom of codependency until my publisher mentioned it when we were collaborating on Part II of my recently-published empowerment fable, Merinda and the Magic Mirror: A Tiny Tale of Transformation. The faulty belief system that can perpetuate codependency is exactly that: “I have to please in order to survive.”
To extend the clinical base a bit more, growing up to become the “adult child” in a dysfunctional family where a child’s fundamental need to be rightly protected and provided for, as well as brought up to become fully functioning as an empowered, self-trusting, free adult is, in one or more key ways, not well or at all met, leaves that adult in a correspondingly wounded state. The “fight/flight/freeze” unhealed stress response creates the faulty belief system that “even though I’m all grown up I am in my core a wounded child who must please __________ in order to survive”.
The Terrible and Perpetuating Self-Construct from What’s Real
This is, of course, a logical attempt, from a child’s level of coping and dealing with unmanageable dysfunction in their family, to fix it. Sadly, it seeds regressed, acting out behavior, and much worse, separates on many key levels the adult from what’s real.
When we are separated from what’s real we are separated from our own loving, infinite spirit and what in recovery is called “higher power”. We lose ourselves, and therefore unwittingly place ourselves at great risk in the world.
Try This Exercise to Begin Key Recovery
The ongoing challenge that plays out in many sometimes-disguised ways in one’s life as a “people-pleaser” shoving oneself perpetually under the rug under the presumed role of endless victim (which always includes the additional dimensions of rescuer and persecutor), is the challenge to trust. In recovery one progressively redefines this word as one learns what it really means (and doesn’t mean) to become responsible.
Here is a key exercise to dive into a core healing and empowerment portal to experience a correspondingly core reality check into where you are regarding trusting in your life:
Five Steps for Transformation
1. Write the word “Trust” at the top of a blank sheet of paper. Without thinking about it, begin to write, one word or phrase to a line creating a column beneath, whatever comes up inside you in response to that word, which now is your title, “Trust” – like a kind of automatic writing.
2. Take your time until you feel complete with this, and when you’ve finished, go back to the top of the list and, beginning with the title “Trust”, write the phrase, I am or I have, or both phrases if you wish, before every item on your list, forming little sentences (for example, the title may become the sentence, I have trust). Don’t worry about whether the formed sentences are completely correct grammatically.
3. Now settle back and read through your whole list , and let it “hit” you however it will. Record your impressions.
4. Finally, allow your body to take a supported, aligned position, close your eyes and count five full, deep, easy breaths to yourself. As you continue to breathe in this way, for the next several breaths as you inhale, say to yourself the word “Receive”; and as you exhale, say to yourself the word “Release”.
5. Continuing as long as you wish, as you inhale say to yourself the phrase, “Receive trust”; and as you exhale say to yourself, “Release trust”. When you feel complete in this experience, very easily and naturally come to full, waking consciousness and open your eyes.
How do you feel? Record your experience.