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Rediscovering Childhood Through Your Adult Eyes

Rediscovering Childhood Through Your Adult Eyes

When you were growing up, you may have been told over and over, in a variety of ways, that you weren’t good enough, smart enough fast enough, thin enough, or just plain not enough of anything to please your parents.  In order to numb this crushing sense of failure and the guilt that inspired, you began to control your anger by controlling your own body–how it was maturing and what you weighed. By concentrating on food, you learned how to temporarily drive out all painful thoughts.  

Anger, fear, guilt, and shame may now be the only emotions you allow yourself to feel.  These may be the only ones you’re comfortable with because you don’t feel worthy of the others.  You don’t permit yourself joy because you have too much to feel guilty about. You don’t laugh because there isn’t any room in your heart for delight.  

The roots of your dysfunctional relationship with food go deep into your past.  You need to allow that past to come to the surface so that you can look back at the experiences of your childhood, now that you are an adult, and begin to put your life into perspective.  As a child, you couldn’t understand what was happening to you. As an adult, you must. Only then can your healing go forward.  

As you look to rediscover your childhood through adult eyes, below are questions and statements for you to answer. 

  1. In my family, the thing I feared the most growing up was ______. 
  2. My parents disapproved of me when I ______. 
  3. These are the things that my parents put the most emphasis on when I was growing up: ______.
  4. My mother’s definition of success is ______.
  5. My father’s definition of success is ______.
  6. To be successful for me means to be ______.
  7. I turned to my physical appearance as a way to gain acceptance because I couldn’t ______.
  8. I feel guilty over being abandoned for the following reasons:  ______.
  9. When I was growing up, I thought the following things were wrong with me:  ______.
  10. Even today my parents still want to talk about the following things: ______. 

It’s important that who you now go back and connect with the child you were, to help that child understand what happened.  You must give that child the comfort you never received and provide that child with a sense of your protection. That child still remains inside of you.  Until you can give it what it needs, your inner child will thwart the journey toward healing. The child inside is pleading with you not to abandon it on your way to health.  

If you have a doll or stuffed animal, especially one from your childhood, get it.  If you don’t, you might want to consider buying one that you’ve seen as an adult and wished you could have had as a child.  

Hold that doll or stuffed animal.  Hug it close. Give it all the comfort and love you never received.  Tell your doll all the words of affirmation and acceptance you so desperately wanted to hear while you were growing up.  Hold your doll and tell yourself (as if it were you as a child) that it wasn’t your fault. Remind your doll that you’re here now, and you’re not going to leave.  

Keep your doll near to remind you of the child within.  For right now, funnel your feelings through the doll. Later, you’ll be able to see it for what it is — a doll — and learn to give those feelings of love and comfort directly to yourself.  

Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a top ten facility for the treatment of depression in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s and is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 37 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.

Relationship Dependency: Retraining Your Brain

Relationship Dependency: Retraining Your Brain

When an emotional imperative becomes a physical compulsion, the desire to find relief can be overwhelming.  In relationship dependency, the brain in the present has been trained to respond to certain conditions by the past.  Because of ingrained dependency traits and past experiences, you have written your own list of what creates pleasure for you and what creates distress.  

At first, your mind was in charge, but over the years your body has become highly influential.  You find yourself in the backseat of your own life and responses. You have trained your body how to respond, and now it’s reacting in the way it’s been trained, even if you want to feel something different.  

Retrain your Brain. Change is Not Impossible

The silver lining in this scenario is that you can retrain your body to react in a different way.  Because we are conscious, thinking creatures and not merely reactive, instinctive creatures, we have the ability to change the way we think and feel.  

Change is not impossible.  People with phobias of spiders or airplanes or bridges have been taught how to experience and enjoy normal life without terror.  People with phobias can learn to grow out of them.

Relationship dependency is really of phobia of being alone.  We have seen many people over our decades of counseling learn to push through their fears.  We have been privileged to watch as they embraced the essential value of their own self-worth.  On this solid, personal foundation, they have restored and entered into relationships with something precious to give — not acts of subservience or demands of control, but the gift of a healthy self who understands, experiences, and gives love.

Understanding How To Change

If you have an idea that you cannot change because your brain has been altered, this is your dependency talking.  Refuse to listen. Understanding the factors – emotional and physical – that contribute to certain behaviors, either with a single relationship or within a relational revolving door, is important.  Because you may have trained your brain to react in a predetermined way, you can retrain your brain to respond differently. If retraining a brain was impossible, there would be no recovering alcoholics, drug addicts, gamblers, or shoppers.  

When working with someone who is fearful of heights, that person needs help understanding that climbing the stairs, or riding in an elevator, will not result in injury or death.  They must understand the flawed nature of their own internal dialogue. The outcomes they tell themselves are inevitable are not true. Once they recognize how much control they have over their feelings of pleasure and distress, their brain can be retrained.  

In the same way, you can understand that your internal dialogue, which predicts disaster if you are not in a relationship or if you are alone, is not true.  You can take control by climbing back into the driver’s seat of your life and redirecting your brain to respond differently, to create a new template for what is pleasurable and what is frightening, inside and outside of a relationship.  

 

Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE. For over 30 years, The Center has treated thousands with eating disorders and other mental health issues. Recognized as a Top 10 Center for the Treatment of Depression, The Center utilizes the whole person approach to care. Dr. Jantz is a leading voice and innovator in mental health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 39 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.

Fear of Abandonment: Its Role in Relationships

Fear of Abandonment: Its Role in Relationships

Andrea was in turmoil. Everything between them had been going so well and now this – Ryan couldn’t go out Thursday because he was supposedly visiting an out-of-town friend. Frantic, she tried to think back over the past few weeks, which was hard when her mind was in such a panic.

Was there something she had said that he’d taken wrong? Any odd looks or cross words? She should have known things were going too well. There was always something that caused things to fall apart. She could pretend nothing was wrong, but what if something was wrong? Andrea couldn’t think of anything else to try.

A nondependent person would have no problem thinking of what else Andrea could try. She could try accepting Ryan’s explanation, wish him a fun time with his friend, and find something else to do on Thursday. But if you have dependent personality traits, this simple approach isn’t so simple. When you’re dependent, you can become consumed with a constant fear of losing relationships. Any glitch, any stray from the fantasized norm of the relationship becomes a great cause for concern, fear, and consuming rumination.

One of the consequences of dependency is that you can take an ordinary occurrence, like a last-minute change in plans, as proof of disaster. An old friend coming into town, having to work late, or even the onset of a cold can be viewed with the utmost suspicion. If there is a truth to be found, you fear it lies with you being abandoned, again.

Abandonment in relationships is an overarching theme in dependency. Because people have a tendency to see what they look for, if you’re looking for examples of abandonment, you will find examples of abandonment. Once you find those examples, you go into fix-it mode, recommitting to do everything “perfectly” in order to hold on to the relationship. Or you panic and exit the relationship prematurely to avoid further pain. You may even react with anger and blame, trying to guilt the other person into apologizing.

While the first option may not register with the other person immediately, the second and third options will often appear to come out of left field. The other person may be baffled why you would leave the relationship over something so trivial. And if you act in anger over something so trivial, the other person may react with similar hostility, leading to the end of the relationship. If the relationship ends this way, the only thing that is validates if your fear of abandonment.

Our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE specializes in uncovering the layers of relationship dependency that may have accumulated over time. We specialize in whole person care—in understanding the full dimensions of an individual, and the life script that brought them to where they are today. Each person that comes to The Center • A Place of HOPE is unique, which means that their recovery journey will be equally unique. We are ready to help you on this journey to uncover your true, healthy, happy self. If you are ready to take the first step on this journey, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak with a recovery specialist today.

How Do You Begin the Process of Relationship Recovery?

How Do You Begin the Process of Relationship Recovery?

The way to start relationship recovery is to take a step of faith. The late Corrie ten Boom is credited with saying, “Faith is like radar that sees through the fog.” Living a life enmeshed in the throes of dependency can be like living in a relational fog. The fears and behaviors of dependency obscure the truth about all of your relationships – with self, others, and God.

The quotation from Corrie ten Boom is especially appropriate for the journey of recovery because, you’ll note, she does not say that faith removes the fog. Rather, she says that faith acts like radar that sees through the fog. Entrenched patterns of thought, and the actions of those compel, will not dissipate overnight. Recovery is a journey whose destination, but not path, is fog-free.

As you make the journey to your fog-free destination, you will struggle with fog. However, the hope is that you are now more aware the fog exists, more aware of where much of the fog comes from, and have reached the realization that, with faith, you can find your way through.

Below are ten questions you can answer that will serve as a road map to better understanding relationship dependency. The truthful, open, and transparent answers you give can also serve as a road map for others you may be working with on your relationship dependency issues, whether a friend, a pastor, or a therapist.

  1. What are your most significant past relationships, along with the most significant relationships now?
  1. Do you find yourself focusing your attention and effort on solving other people’s problems?
  1. If something goes wrong in your life, do you feel personally responsible?
  1. Do you try hard to fulfill the expectations other people have of you, and do you feel like a failure if you aren’t able to meet those expectations?
  1. If someone expresses an opinion that differs from yours, how do you react?
  1. How do you feel when you’re alone?
  1. Do you ever remember a time in your life when you felt abandoned?
  1. What characteristics do you look for in a relationship?
  1. When you suspect a relationship may be ending, what do you do to keep it going?
  1. If a relationship ends, how long does it take for you to enter into another relationship?

Take time to recognize some personal patterns of dependency and how these patterns can negatively affect your relationships. The fog of dependency may take some time to be lifted, but hopefully you’re aware the fog exists—a fog that obscures your view of what positive relationships can be.

Our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE specializes in uncovering the layers of relationship dependency that may have accumulated over time. We specialize in whole person care—in understanding the full dimensions of an individual, and the life script that brought them to where they are today. Each person that comes to The Center • A Place of HOPE is unique, which means that their recovery journey will be equally unique. We are ready to help you on this journey to uncover your true, healthy, happy self. If you are ready to take the first step on this journey, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak with a recovery specialist today.