Overcoming Co-Dependency

Co-dependency came to the forefront in 1979 when counselors began to notice a recurring problem in families after alcoholics became sober. The alcoholic became dependent upon alcohol and, in his/her self-absorption, became progressively less involved in family matters. The family, in their need for things to be “normal”, became dependent upon fixing the alcoholic. The survival techniques reinforced the alcoholic behavior. All members developed unhealthy ways of relating to each other.

Co-dependency is not limited to alcoholic families and is seen in any compulsive/addictive behavior such as workaholic, gambling, sexual behaviors, religious fanatics, overeating, spending addicts, thrill seekers, entertainment junkies, and those with an obsession for control.

Need vs. need. We need each other in healthy interdependent relationships. Because of our need to love and belong, it becomes easy to fall into an unhealthy co-dependent mode.

Dysfunction is spawn in a non-nurturing environment. So much energy is spent being the addict or in surviving the negative atmosphere, that very little mental and emotional energy is available to nurture self, the children, or to meet the needs of other family members.

All are driven to search for wholeness. In doing so doing unhealthy attachments may be formed and one loses her identity in the other person. It is needing others for self-worth. Co-dependency is expecting external factors to fulfill internal needs.

Co-dependency is trying to make others happy at the expense of your own well-being. One may contribute to another’s happiness; he cannot be another’s happiness. Each are self-determining and resent well-meaning intervention. The key to your well-being is in your hands. You have a responsibility to honor your peace of mind. In the process, you become a greater positive influence.

Need for control. Co-dependency is attempting to overcome insecurity by controlling people, events, and things. A child’s first job is to trust. When trust is not formed, he/she seeks to protect, rescue, fix, or take care of others to gain personal security. The behaviors are noble, but the hidden motive is to elicit praise and approval to prove one’s self-worth and value.

People pleasers. A toddler’s job is to conform to the rules of civilized life while developing healthy initiative to be his own person. Failure to find one’s true self is linked to the mistaken beliefs that love, acceptance, worth, security and success is dependent upon doing the right thing. Or being perfect.

Co-dependency is passed from one generation to another. The one with the need to fix, rescue, or take care of will be drawn to one who needs to be fixed, rescued, or taken care of. And visa versa. The result is two empty souls drawn to each other our of compulsive/addictive need, not love or choice. An empty woman drawn to an empty man produces a child from whom they draw love from rather than give nurture to. The child is expected to heal the relationship, but becomes depleted and empty. The empty child believes something is wrong with him or he would be loved.

All will stay empty and co-dependent except for adherence to the AA tenant of “I came to believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.”

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Communication Blocks

If you think communication is all talking, you haven’t been listening. Communication is the sharing of information or ideas in a manner that is clearly understood by the listener or reader. To become a better communicator, consider the following blocks that may be keys in your projection or in your understanding.

Picture it. We speak in words but think in pictures. If we do not get the picture, we do not get the concept. Because words have different meanings, conflicting pictures are drawn. When I say “cat” what do you see? Is he full grown or small? What color? What setting is he in? What if you had never seen a Kristom Leedom cat (bald and wrinkly) or a Manx with no tail?

Life experiences. The pictures projected in our mind are in direct correlation to one’s life experiences. The mind continually searches your “life history file” for similar smells, tastes, sights, audios or feelings to make a connection. Even when the retrieved data is akin, it does not exactly match the sender’s information because each individual is unique in how situations affect him or her.

The speed bump. We process words faster than understanding. The person giving the information has the whole picture (from his/her point of view). We do not know where the other person is coming from or what picture he/she is seeing. It is like being blindfolded and asked to describe what is placed in your hand. A familiar object, such as a ball, may be readily identified but will still have missing images such as color and size.

Imagination is a factor. There are no gaps in communication because the mind fills in the voids. Fills in with what? Life experiences. Or tries to. The individual with limited life exposure or poor imaging does not have a clue how to fix the problem. He does not understand why he cannot communicate with another so he “gets it”. When the sender cannot communicate with the receiver, he responds negatively, in anger or gives up. “Forget it”. “Why try?” “I’m dumb.”

There is a wide range of imaging ability: very poor, good, excellent or even bizarre. If there were no bizarre imaginations there would be no new inventions or science fiction.

Unkind labels. When the listener does not grasp the picture the sender is intending, there is a block in communication – and even more harmful – labels are attached. He is assumed to not be paying attention. Or she is not listening. Or does not care. Or is dumb. Lazy. Slow learner. Stupid. Oppositional.

What I say, plus what you hear. What does it equal? What I have said? What you have heard? Neither? Where is the break down? With the receiver? With the sender? Both? If your message is not getting across, spend time thinking and learning how better to express yourself. If you are not receiving information well, spend time thinking and learning how to be more understanding and patient and develop empathy. The relationship is worth the effort.

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Simple Speech and Persuasion Skills

Public speaking is reported as being the number one fear. It even ranks above the fear of death. Allow these tips to make all your presentations more pleasant for you – and your audience will love you.

Choose a vivid vocabulary. Paint motivational pictures with your words. Use words that add color, smell, action, dimension and emotion. Use a thesaurus to develop a wide array for action words and bold descriptions. Do not use offensive language or situations that would make your audience uncomfortable.

Practice eloquent enunciations. Words and grammar go together. Use proper verb tense, correct sentence structure and accurate usage of words. Speak clearly and do not slur; refrain from using slang. Your listener will become irritated if he cannot understand your words. Employ complete word endings such as ing, o, ed and day as in going, talking, pillow, tomato, attacked, foraged, Tuesday, yesterday. Do not transpose letters in pronunciation; it is perspire, not prespire.

Look for opportunities to incorporate humor. Use puns or a play-on-words, exaggerate, down play, irony, satire, absurdity, a good story or take an unexpected turn. Use pauses for emphasis. Allow time for the listener to respond. Laugh at yourself and with others. Use self-depreciating humor sparingly; too much is uncomfortable to the listener.

Add variety through dialogue, accents, mimicry or dramatization. Employ questions, quotations or a good story. Give an anecdote or shocking statement

Watch your timing, both in delivery and in time frame allotted by the program. Get to the point and do not beat around the bush.

Formulate a strong conclusion. Summarize the main points and reaffirm the purpose. Offer a call to action. Give a challenge for the client to buy, join, support or follow your ideas. Leave them wanting more.

Enjoy the presentation. Make the message YOUR message. If you have a good time, your audience will too. Be open and honest, people can spot a phony.

Using Visual Aids. Visual aids are a great way to increase understanding and memory of the subject matter. Determine what visual aids will enhance your presentation and how deft you are in using them—go with what works for you (power-point, graphs, whiteboard, flip charts, audio, video, props, costumes). Check beforehand that all props are in working order and are properly placed. Practice until you can handle the aid smoothly and with confidence. Do not allow the visual aid to keep you from making personal contact with the audience. End your speech completely and wait for the audience response before you begin to remove items.

Microphone Techniques. If a handheld, hold the microphone parallel to the floor with your hand to the side of your face and speak directly into the top of the microphone. If on a stand, adjust to the proper height and slant from the side and speak directly into the top. Give enough space between the mike and your lips so you do not spit or breath heavily into it. Speak in your natural voice with an even tempo and at conversation level of loudness.

Conversation is speech making also. Use these principles in day to day interaction and the great presentation will become second nature.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”


Breaking Bad Habits

A New Year is a great time to form new habits. Habits cause us to do things automatically without aforethought. Many habits contribute to our well-being and make us more proficient. The key is to be aware of habits that have become destructive and the mindless routine in which they are engaged. Such as: mindless eating, mindless time wasting, mindless complaining, mindless spending and mindless angering.

The bad news: Bad habits take on a life of their own and seem impossible to break.
The good news: Old habits can be broken.

Better news: All habits are formed by routine. Change in routine indirectly changes habits.
Actions are formed based on what one believes. When those actions are fostered by the environment they become a habitual way of living. The action compounded by years of repetition becomes a steel girder not easily unchained.

The formula: Belief + Environment x Repetition = Habit.

Stop by starting. Life abhors a vacuum so stop by starting a new behavior. The focus on quitting creates a void and your mind or body does not know what to do. Replace non-productive habits with exciting new endeavors. What do you enjoy doing? Find your joy and dive in with utter abandonment.

Life is filled with choices. These choices include the attitude you project, the words you use, the people with whom you engage, the way you spend your money, your facial expressions, your tone of voice, the pace of your step. How would your life change with a slight adjustment in any one of these areas? A spring in the step can energize the mind and spirit to act and think differently.

Make quality choices by asking quality questions. What do you want? What do you really want? What are you doing to get it? Is it working for you? How is it working? What one thing could you do differently?

Give yourself permission to change. It is okay to get well. It is okay to do what works for you. When your contemplation reveals an action that is not working for you, give yourself permission to stop. Give yourself permission to start in another direction. Engage in new energy producing activities.

Determine who you really are. You establish who you are by deciding who you are not. Decide and speak it out loud to yourself and to others. Once you establish that you are not a lazy person, taking action becomes easier. To ascertain that you are not a grump, frees you to be more pleasant. When you conclude you are not a smokestack, you long to breathe fresh air and to smell clean. Once you uncover that you are not fat (regardless of the evidence against you), you are freer to choose foods that will support that fact. And mentioning it to others, they will help hold you accountable.

Change does not have to take for ever. The highway to our community was improved by straighten it and widened it. D.O.T. frequent posted notices of “change of traffic pattern” as the vehicles were directed onto the newly finished construction, then back to the old part, and back and forth. The changes quickly became normal and it was difficult to remember where the original road had been. Change and feel good about it.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”


An Attitude of Gratitude

It was the beginning of a new year and John Kralik saw nothing to look forward to. He was divorced, had strained relationships, a failing business and deep in debt. Desperate and alone, he hiked in the Angeles National Forest, Pasadena, CA. He took a wrong turn and became completely lost. It was just him and his self-condemning thoughts.

In the midst of his pity party, he heard a voice: "Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have," it said, "you will not receive the things you want."

Lamenting over former days of friends and family he surprised himself with his resolution. He decided to write a “thank you” note every day of the incoming year. Two years later, he credits that decision as being, “The year a simple act of gratitude changed my life.” John Kralik’s book, 365 Thank Yous, is a collection of the notes he wrote. (Hyperion)

Initially John’s notes were for gifts received or kindnesses expressed to him. He expanded it to remembering old friends and reconnecting with long-neglected family members.

Being thankful is a simple, yet profound act. Many times one voices “I have so much to be thankful for”, yet fails to enumerate the blessings, thus rendering the appreciation doubtful; as words spoken from rote rather than sincere gratification.

As a new year begins, take time to count and recount your blessings. Start with being thankful for your own life and the talents you have been given. A thankful attitude alone will mysteriously open doors previously closed.

See the people in your life with fresh vision. Look for actions and attitudes that are admirable rather than dwelling on the irritating qualities. Clean out those heavy things that weigh you down; things like unforgiveness, grudges, resentment and anger.

See potential benefit regardless of current circumstances. Things can change in the blink of an eye – from bad to good or from good to bad – and thankfulness makes every transition more gracious.

To date, John Kralik estimates he has written over 640 thank you notes. The resolution has become such a part of his nature he sees it as continuing indefinitely. May that become your legacy also.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”