Friday, April 23, 2010


I walked outside today into take-your-shoes-off-and-wriggle-your-toes-in-the-grass sunshine. Feeling the spring air infuse life into my wintery cells I exclaimed: how could anyone feel bad today! God, its so embarrassing when I am so facile. I mean truly, how many times have I ignored my outside reality in favour of the turmoil that is within: colouring the clear blue skies, the blushing cherry blossoms and bright lemon tulips with a filmy miasma of doubt, pessimism and sadness. I have done it so many times now, I actually have to laugh after such declarations. Yes, Jo-Ann, you have, and probably will again, feel bad on such days.

One of the symptoms of codependence that Pia Mellody talks about in her book, Facing Codependence, is a “difficulty [in] experiencing … reality moderately”. As in feeling depressed on a sunny day, codependent parts can create the same scenario by taking a relatively minor event, like a mistake, and elevating it to catastrophe. The result is that life looks bleak where seconds earlier it was full of hope. Rather than saying, for example, that a part of me feels bad about making a mistake and can learn something from it, the codependent part says: I am such an idiot for making a mistake, nothing changes, I am such a loser. These parts ignore context, moderating factors, and both historical and current reality, and have the ability to overwhelm one’s emotional system so that it is difficult to see the bigger picture.

Codependent parts negate the fact that they are only a part of the whole person and try to reassert themselves as the ones, the only ones, who know the truth. In other words, despite the fact that after a mistake is made, the sun still shines, life carries on and that no one is a “loser”, codependent parts force moderation out the window and see nothing good about them selves or their environment. They express reality in extremes rather than in relative terms and are very talented in colouring the world with a dim film.

So, the next time you find yourself beating yourself up for making a mistake (or anything else that derives fault), remember that this is just one part of you that made the mistake. That you are composed of many parts and that mistakes are just that, mistakes, nothing more, nothing less: something to be learned from, corrected if necessary and put into proper perspective.

Another thing I do when I find my codependent parts (in however they choose to manifest) taking over is a meditation by an Eriksonian Psychotherapist, Yvonne Dolan. She calls it the Sights, Sounds, and Sensations meditation.

This meditation allows one to become aware of both their inner and outer environment. It is helpful in coming back to the present, where mistakes are viewed in relative terms and self-compassion and self-forgiveness is more easily found. It can be especially helpful for those who have suffered trauma in their lives, for it takes the coping mechanism of hyper-alertness and uses it as a grounding tool. It can be even used as a way to relax into sleep.

My suggestion is to spend a couple of seconds with each sight, sound or sensation before moving on to the next one

Sights, Sounds, and Sensations Meditation – Yvonne Dolan

Name (aloud or to yourself):
Five things that you see.
Five things that you hear.
Five sensations that you feel.

Now, four things that you see, hear, feel
Then, three things that you see, hear, feel,
Two things …
One thing …

Start over again with five, and keep going until you feel relaxed.

If you only notice one sound or sensation, you can repeat the same one.


  1. you and I shared a couple of emails recently and in one of them, you directed me to your blog. Thank you. I love that I can now see myself as someone who has parts of herself that feel codependent. That I am not a codependent woman full stop. I am kinder to myself now. My darker moments don't last as long, because I know there is so much more to me, and to life, than what my codependent part would like me to believe. Thanks again,

  2. Comments like that makes it all worth while. Thank you back, Joanne