Healing Emotional DependencyBy Dr. Margaret Paul
February 15, 2010
Are you tired of tap dancing as fast as you can to get the love, attention and approval that you believe you need to be okay? Learn how to move beyond emotional dependency and into personal power and emotional freedom.
You are emotionally dependent when your happiness, sense of safety, and sense of worth are dependent upon others' love, attention, and approval.
When you were growing up, perhaps you heard statements like:
"What will the neighbors think?"
"What will__(so and so)__think if you do that?"
Where you taught that what others think of you matters? That you are okay if you are approved of and not okay if you are not? Was your worth tied to your achievements - such as your grades or sports? Did you learn to define your worth externally by your performance or your looks?
Most people were brought up to believe that others are responsible for defining their worth, and the media certainly plays on this, implying that if you buy this car or that product, you will get the approval that defines you as worthy. The media even implies that the product itself somehow enhances your worth.
This is a hard way to live, as you have to constantly prove yourself. And what happens to your happiness, safety, and sense of worth when you grow old and lose your looks, or you lose your money in a down market? What happens to your worth if you gain weight or never make it financially? Does this mean that you have no worth as a human being?
There are two major decisions you need to make to heal from emotional dependency:
- You need to decide to learn how to take full 100% responsibility for your own feelings - your happiness and pain, your inner sense of safety, and your sense of worth.
- You need to decide to define your worth - not by what others think of you or by your looks or by how much money you have, but by how well you love and what you contribute.
Taking 100% Responsibility for Your Feelings
Taking responsibility for your feelings means that you stay aware of how you are causing your own feelings of anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, anger, and fear by what you tell yourself and how you treat yourself. It means that you discover how you abandon yourself by judging yourself, ignoring your feelings, turning to addictions, and making others responsible for you. It means that you learn how to love yourself rather than continue to abandon yourself. The Inner Bonding process is a powerful process for learning to love yourself.
Taking responsibility for your feelings also means that you become kind and gentle toward yourself with the painful feelings of life - the heartache, heartbreak, loneliness, grief, and sorrow of life. It means that instead of avoiding these feelings by trying to control others or by turning to various addictions, to embrace them with deep compassion, allowing yourself to feel them and allowing them to move through you and be released, and stay open to what these feelings are telling you about others and events.
Defining Your Worth
Taking responsibility for defining your own worth means that decide to define your worth internally - by your kindness, caring, compassion, and contributions to others - rather than by approval, looks and performance. It means that, rather than trying to get love, you make being loving to yourself and others your highest priority. It means that, instead of defining your worth by how thin you are, or by how much sex you have, or by the clothes you wear, or by the car you drive or the house you live in or by how much money you have, you define your worth by your kindness toward yourself and others, by what you contribute toward helping others, by your generosity of spirit, by your ability to love without strings attached.
In order to truly love others, you need to first learn to love yourself - taking emotional responsibility for all your own feelings. This is what the Inner Bonding process is all about.
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The path of love is not the easy path - it is the road less traveled. It requires letting go of power and control over others and outcomes. It requires strict adherence to truth, to living and speaking the radical truth. Today, be truthful with yourself about what path you are on - the path of fear, control and avoidance of pain, or the path of courage, truth and love.
By Dr. Margaret Paul