Moving Beyond Emotional DependencyBy Dr. Margaret Paul
August 30, 2010
Discover the choice you can make to move out of emotional dependency and into emotional freedom.
I hope so! Being emotionally dependent is not fun!
When you are emotionally dependent, you set yourself up to be a victim of others' choices. If others are loving and caring, then you feel good, but if others are rejecting, you feel bad. You place your emotional wellbeing into others' hands, rather than taking responsibility for your own feelings and defining your own worth. Do you really want to go on living this way when there is another, far more fulfilling way to live?
I, like most people, grew up being emotionally dependent. I spent years feeling the anxiety that comes from needing others’ approval to feel lovable and worthy. I spent years feeling the inner aloneness that comes from self-abandonment. And I spent years in therapy trying to find out what was wrong and what to do about it. Yet I never learned, in all my reading and all my therapy - and all the years I spent in school getting my Ph.D. in psychology - that the cause of all my problems was self-abandonment.
As I look back on my growing-up years, I see that there was not one person in my life that wasn’t role modeling self-abandonment. Both of my parents were deeply emotionally dependent, as were my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and family friends. Nothing in books, in the media, or in school ever taught me how to attain emotional freedom - how to take loving care of myself so that I was not emotionally dependent on others’ approval, love and attention. I was run by my desire to have control over getting approval and avoiding disapproval.
Life is totally different, now that I know that it is not only my responsibility to give myself the love and approval I used to seek from others, but it is my right and my privilege. I was taught that it was selfish to take loving care of myself - that being a good person meant sacrificing myself and taking care of others instead. I was taught that my good feelings about myself had to come from others' approval. I was told that if I loved and valued myself, I was being arrogant. "Who do you think you are?" Wow, what awful conditioning many of us experience.
I, like you, am a child of Divine Love, here to fully express the love, gifts and talents that I am. Within me - and you - is an incredible soul, the spark of the Divine within me, the part of me - and you - that is created in the image of God. It is my privilege, and yours, to take loving care of this soul - to nurture a healthy body as the house for my soul, to choose the thoughts and actions that create peace and joy within, to not indulge in thoughts and actions that create distress, and to making loving myself and others my highest priority.
When you choose the intention to learn to be loving to yourself and others, rather than the intention to control getting love and avoiding pain, you will learn how to move beyond emotional dependency and into emotional freedom. It is your moment-by-moment intention that determines your level of emotional dependency or your level of emotional freedom.
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Pain and joy are in the same place in the heart. You cannot put a lid on pain without putting a lid on your joy as well. Are you opting for the flatness of the illusion of safety, or are you willing to experience both the lows and the highs of life? Today, cry and laugh with your whole heart.
By Dr. Margaret Paul