I’m going to help you change your life one thought at a time. My name is Michelle Raza and I created Finding Yourself SATX life coaching in 2017 to help people like you achieve success, by first writing out your personal vision statements, then translating these into actionable goals, and most importantly, meeting often enough with your coach to be held accountable and achieve success. Please check out my website - it's at www.findingyourselfsatxlifecoaching.com.
Today we're going to talk about Melody Beattie’s “Codependent No More”, and specifically on the concept of detachment, which I would say is a very easy concept to grasp, but a very difficult concept to practice.
Detachment is something like mindfulness or meditation - those concepts where you can very quickly understand the meaning, but to actually do these things is much more difficult.
We’ll be covering the concepts outlined in Chapter 5 of Melody’s book. She states that the entire rest of her book is built on the concept of detachment. Here are some excerpts from the chapter:
“It, detachment is not detaching from the person whom we care about but the agony of involvement” this is a quote from an al-anon member.
Then she proceeds to define what attachment is - not detachment - but attachment:
“Attachment can take several forms - we may become excessively worried about and preoccupied with a problem or person, thus our mental energy is attached. Or we may graduate to becoming obsessed with and controlling of the people and problems in our environment. Our mental, physical, and emotional energy is directed at the object of our obsession. We may become reactionaries instead of acting authentically of our own volition. Thus our mental, emotional, and physical energy is attached. We may become emotionally dependent on the people around us - now we're really attached. We may become caretakers, rescuers, enablers to the people around us firmly attaching ourselves to their need for us.”
So basically, a codependent is attached. They live their life in such a way that somebody else's problems are more important than their own problems.
On page 34 Melody explains her definition of a codependent:
“A co-dependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior.”
Although she doesn’t say this in the quote above, I think the most important piece of what a codependent is, is that we do not take care of ourselves in the way that we should – because we become consumed with our dependents. We are obsessed with the other person. And that's the part of the attachment that is dangerous and detrimental to our own health.
On page 60 she describes “A Better Way”
"Detachment is not a cold hostile withdrawal …A shirking of our true responsibilities to ourselves and others. A severing of our relationships, nor is it a removal of our love and concern, although sometimes these ways of detaching might be the best we can do for the moment.
Ideally, detachment is releasing or detaching from a person or problem in love. We mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically disengage ourselves from unhealthy and frequently painful entanglements with another person's life and responsibilities and from problems we cannot solve, according to a handout titled “Detachment” that has been passed around Al-Anon groups for years.
Detachment is based on the premise that each person is responsible for himself or herself - that we can't solve problems that aren't ours to solve, and that worrying doesn't help. … If people have created some disasters for themselves, we allow them to face their proverbial music. We allow people to be who they are. We give them the freedom to be responsible and to grow. And we give ourselves that same freedom.
… We do what we can to solve a problem and then we stop fretting and stewing if we cannot solve a problem and we have done what we could.
We learn to live with or in spite of the problem and we try to live happily, focusing heroically on what is good in our lives today and feeling grateful for that. We learned the magical lesson that making the most of what we have turns it into more….
If we are detached, we are in a better position to work on or through our resentful emotions. If we are attached, we probably won't do anything other than stay upset.
When should we detach? When we can't stop thinking, talking about, or worrying about someone or something. When our emotions are churning and boiling. when we feel like we have to do something about someone because we can't stand it another minute…
A good rule of thumb is you need to detach most when it seems the least likely or least possible thing to do.”
So that’s the jist of Melody Beattie’s chapter 5 of “Codependent No More”, talking about detachment. I highly recommend you pick up a copy, as this work is impeccable.
Importantly, if you notice, everything she’s saying above pertains to other people’s problems and things you cannot change nor control. She is not advising us to stop caring about our loved ones, but instead to do what we can and then let go. Codependency goes hand-in-hand with enabling behaviors. The codependent does not let other adults be adults, but instead parents people who should be allowed to be equals. It’s a long road to recovery, but the path is clear.
I also want to be sensitive to the fact that the concept of detachment is very difficult when you love someone. If the person that you're a codependent with is a chemically dependent person, whether it be alcohol or another substance and they're your romantic partner in your life or even just a fellow adult in your life, I think the concept of detachment is quite difficult, but easier than if the person you're codependent with is someone that you're a caregiver for whether they be a child, a troubled teenager, or an elderly parent.
Codependency is any time that you're letting somebody else's problems drain you to the point where you're no longer healthy nor taking care of yourself.
I don't want to make it seem like this is so easy – like, let’s do a visualization where you're lying in the river and everything's good”…except you open your eyes and nothing has changed, right?
Everything is still the same cesspool it was when you closed your eyes. You’re still facing the same problems. Visualization exercises are to help bring your mind to a place of calm where you can even begin to write out a plan of action that works for you.
If the person that you're codependent with is a chemical dependent, it may take setting boundaries regarding the person who is intoxicated being around you – notice that you are not telling the chemically dependent person whether or not they can use, but whether or not it can be around you. Thus, not controlling their behavior, but setting limits insofar as it affects you. That’s the difference between a boundary, and controlling behavior.
Next, you need to find your way to Al-Anon for the families of alcoholics or Nar-Anon for the families of addicts, and inform the alcoholic about Alcoholics Anonymous and the addict about Narcotics Anonymous.
However, your recovery is on you and their recovery is on them. Start going to your group whether or not they go to theirs – you deserve your peace.
If you're a caregiver for someone who is sick, you need to find good respite care. You're exhausted from caregiving for somebody that actually is a dependent, and you're not able to take care of yourself properly. Self-care is not selfish – it makes you a better caregiver.
Melody Beattie’s work is great - it lays out the steps for you. But watching a video or reading a chapter on detachment doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you’ll be a master of detachment.
It takes practice and, ideally, a support group. Melody advocates for you to join any of the 12 step groups – most groups meant for someone who has an addiction also have groups meant for the families. Addicts need their codependents and codependents need their addicts – we need someone to take care of. It takes both working a program to break the cycle.
If nothing else, there is codependents anonymous. We are all codependents; we are all enablers; or we wouldn’t be here. The solution to break the cycle is boundaries and detachment - but it’s a matter of practice beyond just understanding the concepts.
I’d like to close out the video with some activities from Melody’s Ch 5. - get a journal, pause the video, and come back when you’re ready:
1) Is there a problem or person in your life that you are excessively worried about? Write about that person or problem. Write as much as you need to write to get it out of your system. When you have written all you need to write about that person or problem, focus on yourself. What are you thinking? What are you feeling?
2) How do you feel about detaching from that person or problem? What might happen if you detach? Will that probably happen anyway? How is staying attached, worrying, obsessing, trying to control - how has that helped so far?
In the words of Dr. Judd Brewer “What are you getting from this?”
3) If you did not have that person or problem in your life, what would you be doing with your life that is different from what you are doing now? How would you be feeling and behaving?
I hope you complete the journal exercises, then come back to read your answers in a week or so. It’s amazing what journaling, pausing, then re-reading can do for your personal growth!
The topics we cover on YouTube and Facebook at https://youtube.com/@MichelleRaza_LifeCoach and https://www.facebook.com/FindingYourselfSATXLifeCoach are where I discuss the works of my favorite authors - this is something I do for the community that I think is beneficial – it’s my way of giving back.
And if this is the only way that you ever interact with me, I'm grateful for it because you're learning something and I'm learning something whenever I see your comments and reactions.
The YouTube and Facebook content is very different than your Life Coaching Journey though.
None of that is tailored to you. It doesn't take into account your dreams or your vision for your life and it doesn't do a gap analysis of how you're fairing within the seven different life areas, which are
· Social & Family Relationships
· Career & Educational Aspirations
· Rest Recreation & Leisure
· Money & Personal Finances
· Giving Back, and
· Mental, Emotional, & Inner Wellbeing
That’s really how you'll get there – taking the life balance questionnaires, writing your personal vision statements, identifying your goals, writing them down, and working towards them. I'm happy that you're here with me today. I hope that you do start thinking about your life coaching journey - it really will make a difference; that investment in yourself.
I wish you the best on your journey. Take care y’all – look forward to connecting with you next time!