Psychological Self-Help

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need professional help as well as a support group, that you have, do,
and will love them deeply, but you want to make the best of your own
life. Then, get started immediately focusing on improving your own
life. Find useful, interesting, important things to do (see chapter 3).
Have some successes and some fun. (Be sure you don't go looking for
another addict to take care of.) 
How can you tell the difference between codependency and just
being a good, caring person? Probably by your degree of involvement
and the amount of pain you feel. Examples of codependency: If you
only think and talk about someone else's problem, have a long history
of unsuccessful efforts to rescue him/her or change his/her behavior,
and always feel "I have to do something" to help a particular person,
you are codependent and need to detach. If you have been terribly
upset for months with a person's problems (or with a series of people
with similar problems) and are thinking "I can't go on living like this"
but you do, you are codependent and need to detach. If your lover has
drained you of all your assets or your spouse has had repeated affairs
or abandons you while "working at the office," and you are "going out
of your mind" trying to hold on to him/her, you are codependent and
need to detach. If you react with horror to the suggestion that you get
out of this mess which is destroying your life, saying "Oh, my God, I
couldn't do that; I care too much," you are codependent and need to
If our self-concept is low and has weak, unclear boundaries, we
may (a) be dependent, taken over, used, or manipulated by others, or
(b) feel so identified with a needy person that we are compelled to
take over and manage the other person's life. In the beginning, the
codependent looks like a strong "savior" but in the end they feel
crushed. If our boundaries are thick walls, no one can get close to us
and we aren't open to change. Ideally, our boundaries will be strong
enough to resist unreasonable, destructive demands (no matter how
flattering they seem at first) but flexible enough to let in freely given
intimacy and love. More self-esteem (chapter 14) and assertiveness
(chapter 13) are needed if our boundaries are overly weak or overly
strong. In therapy, codependents are repeatedly told the Three C's:
You didn't cause it; you can't control it; you can cure it! In short, you
can stop supporting the addict's sickness and get a healthy life of your
Mental health professionals are rather critical of the addiction and
codependency concepts. For one thing, psychologists often feel
parents are unfairly blamed for these problems (and the shame-based
inner child), rather than the environment or our culture. Other critics
point out that women suffer most of the codependency and women are
blamed for these problems, i.e. the victim is blamed. Also, critics point
out that caring and loyal codependents are extremely controlled by
others and, yet, the recommended treatment by writers in this field is
often a 12-step program which teaches "I am helpless" and turns over
all the remaining control over their lives to a "higher power." Instead,
perhaps, they need to take control themselves of their lives and
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