Tag: mental health

Codependency (Part Two): Personal Boundaries

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Codependency (Part Two): Personal Boundaries

by Alexis Pardo, LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Agape Therapy Institute in Downtown Orlando

In codependent relationships personal boundaries can be blurred and the people in the relationships often feel like they are always doing so much for the other person with little return. 

I frequently hear my clients say “I’m ALWAYS doing EVERYTHING for them and they do NOTHING.” With some probing, I frequently hear my clients say that they don’t speak up because they don’t want to make the other person feel bad. In the meantime my client is left feeling taken advantage of because they continue to do things that they don’t want to do but never communicate that with the other person clearly. 

It’s important to remember that it is our job to recognize how much we are willing to do for someone without feeling over extended. It is also our job to communicate what we expect in return. Without doing this, we are engaging in a cognitive distortion called Mind Reading where we expect the other person to inherently know what we think, feel, want and need. 

In these relationships there are often a lot of unsaid expectations, which can result in resentment. My client’s describe this resentment like feeling chronically angry. 

What are personal boundaries?

Boundaries are what we use to set the stage for how we expect to be treated. 

The scariest part about boundaries is that it requires us to be confident enough to walk away or provide consequences if our boundaries are not respected. Boundaries without consequences are just suggestions. 

People with healthy boundaries feel comfortable saying “no” without having to explain themselves. They understand that “No.” is a complete sentence.

Tips for setting boundaries

Practice and plan ahead what you are going to say. This gives us time to rehearse something, especially if it is a new skill you’re developing. It can also make it easier to say out loud when the time comes.

Use ownership language by using the word “I” and not using the word “You”.  For example, “I wont be able to go to the party because of my schedule” vs “You scheduled the party too early, so I can’t make it.”  Blaming others for having to set boundaries is not helpful and can damage your relationship. 

It’s important to think about why setting this boundary is important to you. How does it connect with your values? How are your honoring yourself when you set this boundary?

Be respectful of the other person by avoiding yelling or putting the other person down. Use confident body language but remember that confidence is not the same as aggressive. 

3 Examples:

  1. Respecting Privacy
    Your coworker asks for more details about why you called out sick from work but you don’t want to share every detail about how sick you were. You can say something like “I really appreciate your concern, but I don’t want to talk about it.
  2. Doing things you don’t want to do
    You are invited or asked to do something that you don’t want to do. I have client’s that say yes before they even think about it. In these cases you should practice saying, “Let me think about it,” “Let me check my schedule first” or simply “Maybe.”  This will give you some time and space to really consider if you are able to fit this in and whether or not you actually want to do it. It also gives you the opportunity to figure out if you will need to add any conditions like needing to be done by a certain time. 
  3. Friend asks you for money
    In this situation, I encourage you to remind yourself that “No” is a complete sentence. It is your money and you have no obligation to give it away.  After all, you worked for it. If you are inclined to let someone borrow money, you can clearly state what you expect in return and that the consequence will be no borrowing money in the future. 

Warning: Shameless Plug!

Obviously, I am going to recommend that you seek the help of a therapist. Can you learn to do this on your own? Absolutely, but you got here through years and possibly decades of learned behavior. You will not be able to undo everything you have learned in one day and that goes for therapy as well. 

This is a process of learning how to care for yourself, finding confidence, challenging your limiting beliefs, and learning how to communicate clearly. I do think that you can learn how to set boundaries on your own, but where most people get stuck is on untangling how they got there in the first place. I believe that this is where a therapist can help. Once you learn why you do something, you will be able to make changes from a deeper understanding of yourself. 

Resources

Below are a few books that can help you on your journey to building healthier boundaries: 

Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
The Codependency Recovery Plan by Krystal Mazzola, M.Ed, LMFT
Where to Draw the Line by Anne Katherine

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Alexis Pardo, LCSW is a therapist at Agape Therapy Institute, a not-for-profit outpatient mental health counseling center in Downtown Orlando.  To learn more about Alexis and to book an appointment with her, visit her page on our website by clicking here


Cover photo credit:  Tatiana

Tags:

  • codependency
  • communication
  • counseling
  • couples therapy
  • healing
  • mental health
  • mindfulness
  • psychotherapy
  • self-care

Codependency (Part One)

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Codependency (Part One)

by Alexis Pardo, LCSW

Over the next two posts I’m going to cover codependency and how to start moving towards peace. 

At my office, I see it often: a client who is making up excuses for (fill in the blank: mom, dad, sibling, partner). My clients simultaneously have a strong desire to care for this person, but also find themselves feeling disappointed, frustrated and hurt by this person’s behaviors. They’re left feeling empty, sad, anxious, with low self-esteem, and often questioning themselves and every decision they make. 

Below I detail what codependency is, how to identify codependency in your own life, and how to know when to get help. 

What is codependency? 

Codependency is a learned behavior within dysfunctional families. These people often come from families where their feelings were ignored making it difficult to develop their individuality and healthy ways of expressing themselves. Often this could look like a parent making a child feel responsible for their own feelings. This causes children to be fearful of expressing their needs or feelings for fear that it may upset mom or dad. 

Signs of codependency

  • You feel responsible for other people’s emotions, actions, and life events. 
  • You have difficulty making decisions on your own.
  • You have difficulty saying “no”. 
  • You need approval and recognition.
  • You have difficulty identifying your own feelings. 
  • You fear that expressing your feelings will hurt someone else. 
  • You fear being alone. 
  • You fear rejection if you set boundaries. 
  • You think that setting boundaries is “selfish”. 

Codependency is reversible

It is absolutely possible to reverse these learned behaviors. It takes practice and time. You didn’t become like this overnight, so you have to be patient with yourself. Reading books about codependency, taking actionable steps towards increasing your self-esteem, and possibly seeking the help of a professional (i.e., a therapist) will be necessary. 

Therapists can help by assisting clients in developing self-esteem, undo the limiting beliefs that continue to set them back, and by developing boundaries. 

In part two, I will cover one of the best safeguards against codependency:  Boundaries!

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Alexis Pardo, LCSW is a therapist at Agape Therapy Institute, a not-for-profit outpatient mental health counseling center in Downtown Orlando.  To learn more about Alexis and to book an appointment with her, visit her page on our website by clicking here


Cover photo credit:  Tatiana

Tags:

  • anxiety
  • codependency
  • communication
  • counseling
  • mental health
  • mindfulness
  • psychotherapy
  • self-care
  • trauma
  • trauma

9/11 Never Forget You’re Never Alone

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As a born a bred New Yorker, this day is a hard one for me to swallow.  It was the day the face of my home was forever changed, the day life as we knew it in this country forever changed, and it ushered in a time of fear, worry and resilience.   I was not in NY on 9/11 but that doesn’t mean like so many others in our country and around the world we were not affected. I know I was.

I remember thinking how sorry I felt for the pilot who was not able to miss a 110 story tall building.  How naïve I was, but then the second plane crashed, and the third, and the fourth…. I was at work watching my world forever change not knowing what I was witnessing. But 17 years later as I watch the opening of the remembrance ceremony at ground zero my eyes well with tears as my throat closes and I want to weep for all of those who were lost 17 years ago today.  I also grieve for the way of life that was take from us on that fateful day.

Forever and always we have to face our mortality in a whole new way.  There has always been apprehension with some when flying, now we live in a world in which we wonder for a split second if there is someone on our flight willing to do what was done on that day.  As I write this my own mother is in a plane flying in the air to New York City, and do you know what I say? Good for her! I hope there are many people flying today, to show those who wished to see us crumble in fear, that we may be afraid but we will not back down.

But, that got me thinking on the topics of for fear, anxiety, and depression. Since 9/11 if we allowed ourselves to drown in to it we could drown in our fears and sorrows, and some of us need to go there for a while and that’s ok.  When you have witnessed or experienced a horribly traumatic event such as 9/11, it can be hard to know which way is up. And if we find our way through the depression and anxiety we may not think we have what it takes to pull ourselves out.  But that is what is so important, we must do what we can to work our way out.

When it comes to depression, it is a mental health disorder in which you experience a low or sad mood more often than not and it affects the way you think, feel and behave.  You feel sad, down, empty, can experience frequent crying, have lost interest or pleasure in things that used to make you happy, and no matter how much you want to, nothing helps you feel better.  It has physical effects on you as well. It can make you extremely tired due to the insomnia or hypersomnia that comes with depression, you can feel achy or even ill. All of this leads to changes in behavior as well, you can find that you isolate yourself more because you don’t want to be a burden on your friends and loved ones who seem to be fine so why bring them down with your stuff right?  Wrong! No matter what has caused the depressive state you are in, keeping yourself isolated from the world, although seems like a good idea, only helps you sink further into your depression.

So if we are in a depressed state what can we do to help ourselves out?  My first piece of advice is to get help! Whether you seek the counsel of a good friend or go straight for professional help, get help!  Your depression wants you alone, isolated, and lonely so it can wreak havoc on your mind, don’t let it. You also need to reframe the thoughts that are keeping you in a depressive state and repeat the positive self-talk over and over again until you start to believe it.  You can also try journaling to help express the unresolved emotions that have kept you in a depressive state. There are so many things that can be done to help lessen and alleviate your depression, but there is one key ingredient. It is willingness. You must be willing to do the work.  Getting depressed was not a quick and easy process, getting out of it might not be either, but I am here to tell you that although it can feel like running through drying cement, working your way out of depression is not impossible.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with depression, please know that it is only part of your journey, depression is not your final destination.  It is normal to have ups and downs in life, but when we get suck in the down swings, please know that is not normal and there is help. We would love to help walk you through your own journey here at Agape Therapy Institute.

Written by Iliana Torres, LMHC
Therapist at Agape Therapy Institute
To book an appointment with Iliana, please call (407) 900-8633

Tags:

  • anxiety
  • community
  • counseling
  • depression
  • healing
  • mental health
  • mental health
  • psychotherapy
  • resilience
  • stress
  • trauma

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