by: Staci Stallings
I’ll bet without even being with you, I can guess how you felt when you read the title of this article.
If you didn’t read it, I’ll give you a couple seconds to do so.
Did you feel that?
That spiritual depression enter your body?
It’s not even just spiritual, it’s physical.
Try again. Read the title again and see if you feel it.
For me, I get “tight” — almost scared, panicked even.
I can’t tell you why. I don’t know if I’ve been conditioned to feel that with those words or if it is somehow innate.
What I can tell you is that those two words are incredibly destructive, and they are an immediate tip-off that someone just introduced conditional love into your consciousness.
Why bring this up? Because if you are trying to learn to love unconditionally or trying to learn to let God love you unconditionally, you have GOT to throw both of those words OUT of your vocabulary… NOW!
Not in six months when you get to your goal weight, or next year when you finally succeed at that thing you’ve always wanted to do. RIGHT NOW!
Those two words — disappointed and embarrassed — are shaming words. They are meant to control you via someone’s “love” or more to the point the removal of their love, and they are not loving words.
You may wonder how I figured this out. Well, it was a combination of things, culminating in my own decision never to use these two words on myself or on anyone else.
In the book Soul Repair: Rebuilding Your Spiritual Life, Jeff VanVonderen explores the subject of Spiritual Codependency. Now I had never really thought about this topic before, never really knew or understood there was such a thing. But let me tell you, this one concept opened a floodgate of understanding for me.
Spiritual Codependency is the idea that Person A’s happiness is determined by Person B’s behavior.
Ever been there?
Have you ever walked into church with a parent who said, “Now you behave and be a good girl”? Why would they say that? Because they just made you responsible for their experience in church–especially in the image department! If you got cranky, you probably got a swat or taken out of church for an even more stringent swat. If you didn’t sit and behave, you knew you were going to be in serious trouble.
Now, yes, I know. The parent in me says, “Children need to learn to behave in church.”
You’re right. They do.
But if you convey that they are an embarrassment to you or that you are disappointed in them for fidgeting like a bored child, and therefore, you are retracting your love until they “get in line,” you are now codependent upon their behavior!
Get how that works?
It may seem that you have control over them, but the opposite is also true–they have control over your emotions. Simply by acting up, they can make your day go from good to AAACK!
So although you may think “what other option do I have?” I beg you to search out other options because chaining your emotions to someone else’s behavior is a great way to be really miserable a LOT of the time!
I used to do this… with pretty much everyone. I was responsible for the happiness of everyone around me.
If there was a problem, it was probably my fault or at very least my responsibility to fix.
Years ago, my lovely husband could get me running just by slamming a cabinet door. BANG! And Staci was right there, frantically trying to… clean, cook, run to the store, come help, tend the children, whatever it was.
Then one day I started to unchain myself from that unhealthy codependency, and he almost banged the house down.
It took us a while to learn a new way of being. A way that said, he was responsible for his own happiness. A way that said, I was accepted and loved by God if no one else–whether husband was happy or not. A way that wasn’t driven by me frantically trying to keep him from being disappointed in me.
Interestingly, that isn’t even in me anymore… for anyone.
I’ve learned… I’m doing my best, if you don’t like it, that’s not my problem.
I’m making good decisions for myself. If you don’t like them, that’s not my problem.
Yes, I’m going to mess up sometimes. If you can’t roll with that, make adjustments and love me anyway, that’s not my problem.
I have unchained myself from the expectations of others. Their happiness is between them and God. Period.
I help when I can. I do what I can, I do the best I can, and I leave the rest to them and God.
No. It’s not always easy. But I’m finding ever deeper that it’s always worth it!