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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

If I am only nice enough/helpful enough...

When people think addiction, they think addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, eating, sex or something similar.  These are all legitimate answers on what are some types of addictions.  One type that I think is missed is codependence.  I have come to realize that codependence is a form of addiction.  It is an addiction to the approval of others.

In listening to codependent personalities, including myself at times I get the sense of if I am only helpful, understanding, kind, generous, loving, caring enough, then I will be loved.   From what I see, often times that produces an exact opposite type response.

* Those on the other side of the equation will take your good nature for granted and will take advantage of you.  In short, they will not respect you and will have a hard time 'loving' you.

* Those on the other side of the equation will see that the codependent has no respect for themselves, but instead is trying to get respect for themselves through approval of another.  This can put off another person.

In a large sense, a more honest assessment of the situation is that a codependent "giver", often gives to get something in return: approval.  They may believe that they are giving because they are good people and to some degree they may be good natured givers.  However, if they really examined their motives, they will find that they much of their impulse to 'give' to those they hope to get approval from.  Now, we are social creatures and it is normal to hope to be approved, but it shouldn't be our primary motivator.  From what I see, if tailor our behavior toward doing the right thing, because it is the right thing--often seen as the golden rule--then I believe we will be approved and appreciated by those who are most important to us.  Ultimately, that is the reflection of  a spiritual self-approval.  

The way I've come to understand it is this.  When I strip away everything and everyone else, what I have left is God and myself.  While I know I'm not perfect, I know He doesn't expect me to be perfect.  What I have to seek out what is in His eyes, the right choices.  If my Higher Power approves of my life choices and my heart, then I have a solid foundation.  Anyone and anything else who 'approves' of me is secondary.  I expect everyone's understand of where their core approval is based is not quite the same, but I believe the point is clear. Base your need for approval in yourself (and your faith) first, and you will be less reliant on codependently seeking the approval of others.

I think one verse in the Bible puts it properly on I believe where to behave your approval:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)