The Focus On You

Self-Care Is A Lifestyle

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Codependency: A Dysfunctional Love Story

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A hypothetical story about two fictional characters to help illustrate the dangers of codependent relationships.


Minnie – The Codependent  

Alicia – Minnie’s girlfriend

Minnie and Alicia have been in a monogamous relationship for 3 years. They met at a nightclub and instantly hit it off. Alicia gave a sob story over a few beers that night about her recent woes. Alicia and Minnie both happened to be fresh out of relationships and didn’t intend on hooking up with anyone that night.

Minnie fought with her better judgment and immediately started dating Alicia. (1st Red Flag). She admitted that she really needed time to heal from her last relationship and truly didn’t want to be alone. (2nd Red Flag). Minnie never really gave herself space between relationships to lick her wounds or adjust to being single. (#3).

Alicia was a bit of a hot mess when she started dating Minnie. Her finances were a wreck, she had been kicked out by her last 2 roommates and her parents were tired of her drama. Minnie felt compelled to “rescue” Alicia and figured she could help her get back on her feet. She had always been the more “stable” person in her relationships and thought she would be a good influence on her.

Their relationship was great for the 1st year and Alicia found a steady job as a barista near their apartment. Oh, did I forget to mention that Alicia moved in 2 months after they met? (#4).

Nevertheless, they forged a strong relationship, met each other’s parents and hung out with Alicia’s friends almost every weekend. Little did Minnie know that Alicia was horrible with budgeting. She attempted to hide calls from loan companies and still owed her old roommates for utility bills.

Minnie was starting to bury her own secrets as well. As she was helping Alicia rebuild her credit (and her life), Minnie’s credit card bills weren’t being paid on time. She was afraid to say “no” whenever Alicia asked for a loan or asked to cover their check at dinner. (#5) Minnie had a laundry list of complaints that she never talked about with her girlfriend. Alicia would throw guilt trips if Minnie said “maybe” to anything and never showed appreciation for all the times that Minnie helped her out. Minnie secretly wished that Alicia would get a better paying job to help with their debt. Plus, Minnie felt taken advantage of at work because everyone dropped their projects on her desk.

Minnie had so many needs and wishes that no one asked about. She wanted to visit her family this Christmas, go to the beach over the summer, cut back on hosting functions at their apartment and spend more time doing self-care. It felt like Alicia was running her whole life. When she thought of the alternative, being alone, she shook off her resentment (Huge Red Flag) and tucked her feelings deeper into her soul.

Alicia commented one time that Minnie didn’t seem her old “happy” self and the only time she communicated with her was through anger. Minnie admitted that the only way she could be heard was if she yelled. She didn’t have anyone to talk to because most of Minnie’s friends were dealing with their own drama and wouldn’t bother to listen.

As a matter of fact, Minnie realized she couldn’t really lean on anyone because she was considered the “rock.” (Red Flag). Heaven forbid if Minnie had a problem! She was the one who saved everyone else! (That’s a red flag too but I lost count).

Sound familiar???

So why is this considered “dangerous?”

Anytime someone loses a sense of self or loses their voice, it can easily spiral to a mental health crisis or crappy coping skills (Drinking, drugs, excessive spending, unhealthy eating behaviors, risky sexual patterns, etc). Supporting someone means that you shouldn’t suffer financially, emotionally, spiritually, legally or physically. Minnie appeared to be dragged down and wasn’t speaking up to set limits with her partner.

Open communication and respect are essential in any relationship – intimate partners, parents and children, siblings, work relationships. Taking advantage of someone isn’t a sign of respect.

Personally, in my work with addicts I have had clients like Alicia who were shocked to realize how they manipulated their partners. When they learned about codependent traits they wondered if their partner was with them for love or for “necessity.” Codependent people tend to be addicted to others. They have trouble living alone, staying single and tend to attract needy people. Codependency is a desire to be accepted, at the cost of burying your own voice or needs. Click To Tweet

I don’t want you leaving this post thinking that this hypothetical relationship is doomed. In fact, if Minnie was open to detaching from “rescuing” people, could stick to her boundaries and honor her needs, she could have a healthier relationship. Alicia would have to learn to save herself and be willing to compromise with Minnie’s needs.

Minnie’s codependence doesn’t end by leaving a relationship. She will carry those traits and patterns into all of her relationships if she doesn’t realize how to detach, learn self-acceptance and be consistent with her boundaries.

What other help is there for people who have codependent traits?

Professional therapy, Codependent Anonymous (CoDa) groups, Al-Anon (if your partner or family member has substance dependence), Boundary training and books.

One of the best authors and best books on this subject is Melody Beattie’s Codependency No More. I swear by it, recommend it to almost all of my clients and have only heard praise for her teachings.


Codependency may seem like a harmless addiction because most codependent people can’t imagine saying NO to others. The argument I hear is, “What’s wrong with helping people?”

My answer to them is always met with silence.

“So who’s helping you?”

Focus on you, learn to say no and save yourself for once.



How To Bust Out Of The Comparison Trap

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It seems like whether we’re thriving or holding on for dear life, we seem to peek our heads to see how everyone else is surviving. Social media makes these “comparison traps” even harder because people love to show off.

The beginning of the year is the season of self-doubt. When people are already counting “wins” we may be ready to kiss our goals goodbye (again).

What are the reasons we get stuck in comparison traps?

  • We question if what we’re doing is “right.”
  • We want to be accepted even when we don’t accept ourselves.
  • It gives us an excuse to quit.
  • We no longer recognize our own “wins” because all we focus on are “losses.”
  • We haven’t secured a mentor, trainer or guide to keep us focused on our path.
  • It can become lonely when we’re working long hours on our dreams. Comparison breaks up the loneliness.
  • Our dreams/visions/goals aren’t full-fledged commitments.
  • Our squad isn’t supportive or on a similar path.

When I see entrepreneur friends who are killing it in their dreams and goals, I realize that they’re putting in ten times more work than me. I don’t look at that as a personal weakness. I see it as a challenge. If I can’t applaud a friend or colleague on their success because I feel it reflects poorly on me, then I got work to do. Reminder: No one is considering MY goals when they’re achieving THEIR goals. That form of competition doesn’t breed success.

A cognitive trick I talk about in mental health therapy is teaching people to recognize their personal mirrors. We “project”, or throw, our thoughts and worries onto other people because our flaw is ALL we can think about. We assume that’s all they see too.

For example, if I look in the mirror and see someone who isn’t smart, I will assume everyone sees the same thing. I will react to people as if they’re treating me like an idiot. I will assume that every rejection and unanswered text is because people think I’m not smart. When we build up the confidence to work for a promotion, begin a weight loss program or start dating it’s easier to give up if our personal mirror isn’t rooted in love.

I can’t imagine there’s a person on Earth who thinks they’re flawless everyday but are you going to focus on the flaws or the strengths? Point out your strengths daily. Hourly.

Are you focused on your mediocre resume or your badass network of references?

Are the thicker thighs a problem or a benefit during weight training?

Were you hired to have voluminous hair or for your ability to work well with customers/clients?

Did any of these sentences make you feel like you need a boost? This is where coaches, mentors, spiritual guides and therapists fit in. They’ll remind you of your strengths until you learn to do it yourself.

I recently read that likeability is like a prison. Is our desire to be liked something we carried over from adolescence? (I see an upcoming blog  post on this subject…) Accepting who we are places a neutral label on what we see in the mirror. It’s not good or bad. It just is. It’s easier to be loving towards myself if I’m centered in the middle, in neutral, rather than at the other extreme of “negative.”

Bust out of comparison traps by reminding yourself how remarkable you are, how realistic and within reach your goals are and give yourself credit for making it through the day. Find people who believe in your goals and will only lift you up. Accept more than what you see in the mirror. Click To Tweet Point out the wins from last week, last year and the wins that made you feel alive when you were a kid.

The only person you should be comparing yourself to is you. That’s all you can control and you can only go HIGHER from here!

Book Recommendation: You Are Enough: How To Elevate Your Thoughts, Align Your Energy and Get Out Of The Comparison Trap by Cassie Mendoza-Jones





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