“The truth you believe in and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.”
Pema Chodron

 

At some point, there comes a defining moment in life – that moment of truth when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you just can’t keep on living the way you’ve been living -not for a single second longer.

And in that moment you know that something has to give. One glimpse of that truth instantly has you realizing that you only have 2 options – either change or stay the same.

The idea of having to choose either one of those options feels absolutely unbearable. And so you find yourself trapped between the two, in this awful purgatory of indecision.

And that’s exactly where I was trapped. Unable to stay in an unhappy marriage, and unable to leave it.

The prospect of changing required the long journey inward, of having to look at myself honestly and courageously and do the things I was afraid to do.

To change meant I had to leap into unchartered waters, not knowing if I’d sink or swim. And in the face of that, I was easily lured back to the comfort of the familiar – being the devil I knew.

I was quick to reassure myself that even in my unhappy situation, with all of its heartache and suffering, at least I knew what to expect. And that thought was comforting.

And in precise tandem with that thought was the awareness that if I couldn’t bring myself to leap off the cliff to change, I would be stuck living life in this state of unhappiness and dysfunction. And that thought was terrifying.

 I couldn’t stay where I was, but I was too afraid to move forward.

This purgatory of indecision was an awful place to be. It was filled with its own unique despair. It was wrought with doubt, shame, anger, and huge amounts of fear. But in spite of that, it still wasn’t enough to propel me in any one direction.

I was stuck in this purgatory for y-e-a-r-s, and I would eventually learn that what kept me tied up in indecision was my well-versed, very clever, co-dependent mind.

What I came to understand was that everything I was thinking and believing wasn’t actually me talking to me. It was the very loud and dictatorial voice of my ‘co-dependent mind’.

It had become so loud and powerful that it had pretty much all but drowned out my own voice. And for many years, one of its most potent functions was to keep me believing that every terrible thing I told myself about myself was the gospel truth.

I was given the analogy of a seed – and whether the dysfunction is co-dependency, addiction, depression, etc., there sits the ‘seed’ of it, buried deep in our brain. And in some of us, at some point, something will happen to trigger it.

That ‘event’ ends up being the water it needs to grow. And if it’s allowed to set its roots down, it continues to grow stronger and stronger. The voice of that dysfunction slowly and steadfastly takes over, and begins to drown out You.

Eventually, this dysfunctional voice is the only one you hear and so you recognize it as you, but it’s not you– it’s the mind of the dysfunction. And the thing to know is that it’s separate from the mind of You.

I was asked to think of it as two minds – my mind, and in my case, the co-dependent mind. And for me, my co-dependent mind had grown so big and its roots so deep, that it was calling all the shots.

Recognizing that there was my mind and the co-dependent mind was extremely helpful for me in beginning to decipher which was my voice and which was the voice of co-dependency.

The mind of any dysfunction, regardless of where it’s originated from, has its own unique sets of toolboxes. In my case, my co-dependent mind was a master at using fear and self-doubt to create confusion.

Fear, along with self-doubt, whispers “you’re not good enough,” or “worthy enough,” and insists, “you can’t trust what you feel or what you think,” thereby creating all kinds of space for confusion to reign.

There was a constant tug of war going on inside of me. I was convinced that what I wanted and needed was wrong if it wasn’t in alignment with what others wanted and needed from me.

Daily, my co-dependent mind reminded me that I was inadequate, unlovable, unworthy, and not very capable. And as the co-dependent voice got louder and louder, it eventually became the only voice I recognized and heard.

But here’s the thing – the secret to silencing that voice of dysfunction IS to challenge it. We must disbelieve what it’s saying.

The problem was that any attempt at disagreeing with what my co-dependent mind was telling me, created HUGE amounts of anxiety and fear.

So you can see the predicament: to silence it, we have to disbelieve it. And to disbelieve it creates tremendous anxiety.

The thing you need to know is that anxiety is the superpower of any dysfunction. It uses our disdain and discomfort for feeling anxious as a way of staying in control. This is what makes it so clever and difficult to outwit.

And it was this desperate need to avoid feeling anxious that kept me from challenging my co-dependent thinking.

But know this – to be able to change your beliefs about yourself, you need to DISBELIEVE what that voice of dysfunction is telling you, and do the very thing you think you can’t.

As you challenge it, you will definitely experience anxiety and fear. But the truth is, no one has ever died from feeling anxious or afraid. Ever.

Feeling anxious or afraid will not kill you. But it will free you from the life you are trapped in – from the incessant voice of the co-dependent mind.

The rule of thumb I began with was that I would actively disbelieve any negative or unkind thoughts I had about myself. I had to become very aware of choosing thoughts that served me.

If they didn’t lift me up, I disbelieved them. Martha Beck, author and monthly columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine says: “All thoughts that separate you from genuine happiness are lies.” That became my daily mantra.

As I practiced this new way of being – of refusing to believe those negative thoughts as gospel truth – slowly but surely, how I felt about myself and what I believed about myself began to change. ­­­­

Where my co-dependent thinking said I wasn’t capable, I chose to trust my capabilities were enough for that moment. Where my co-dependent thinking said I wasn’t good enough, I chose to believe that I was enough just as I am.

The more I decided I was loveable and worthy of love, the more confident, assured, and certain I became of who I was and the more clearly I could hear my own voice.

You must decide that you will no longer trust the voice of dysfunction. And once you do, I promise you, it will begin to retreat and your voice – the voice of self-love, truth and wisdom, will become loud and clear.