A lot of people want to change. They want their lives to get better. They want to leave their bad situation, but they can’t. They come up with myriad of reasons why and what it is that’s stopping them. These reasons seem inconsequential to others, but for the individual they are there, they are real and they can be debilitating.

Inside most codependents there is a little self-destruct chip. It likes to keep you where you are. It likes to hurt and wound you and to perpetuate more of the same pain in your life. It’s the proverbial little devil sitting on your shoulder trying to talk you into doing something that is all wrong for you and won’t benefit you in any way.

All of us have ideas, dreams, goals and desires that we would like to have and achieve, but often there is something that keeps us from what we want and that something are those destructive beliefs that keep weaving their way into our heads, like they are on some kind of destructive loop cycle.

When we are young that abusive voice we hear belongs to our parents and the bullies at school. It’s criticizing us, shaming us and telling us we don’t deserve better and that we’re not good enough. When we grow up and we move away from our parents that voice seems to have taken up residence inside of us. We thought when we moved away that it would end, but instead we keep the torch of our own destruction burning. This is a clear indication that their message is firmly ingrained deep within us.

Instead of them being our abusers we now become our own abusers, because we believe everything they ever told us about ourselves. That voice reflects our interpretation of what other’s have said or expressed about their beliefs about us.

What both Michael A. Singer and Echardt Tolle have stated, is that we are not that voice – we are the observers of that voice. The only power it really has over us is the power that we allow it to have.

It manifests most commonly as:

Shame Chirping – the voice is always putting in its two cents. It’s trying to make us feel bad. It wants us to fail. It discourages us. It wounds us. Sometimes it’s relentless, like it’s on a feedback loop of expressing its disgust. It wants to make sure we know that we can’t do it, that we’re not good enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not special enough… It purpose is to keep us stuck. It wants to trick us into believing that it’s the truth.

The Justifier – sometimes the voice is a detective. It’s encouraging us to look for any reason to do something we know we shouldn’t. It keeps finding excuses for us. It gives us good, believable reasons to quit or disappoint ourselves and others. It’s this voice that tries to find a reason for you to break no contact, or to break your commitment to eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle. It’s a saboteur and it’s purpose is to keep you where you are.

The Negative Malaise – it’s a general unpleasant feeling that permeates throughout our entire being. It’s our emotional vibration and you feel it most when you are experiencing lack – lack of love, lack of money, loneliness, despair. You feel it mostly when things aren’t going right, when you want something but you don’t have enough money, or support, or whatever you perceive as missing in your life, though some people feel it all the time. It’s this overall feeling that keeps people impoverished, in pain, or alone. It’s the feeling of despair and it’s this feeling that we send out to the universe that brings more of the same back to us.

These feelings and beliefs are so hard to break away from because they are coming at us from all sides – from our abusive parents, from our abusive partners and even from inside ourselves. It’s like our abusers have planted their seeds inside of us and these seeds have taken root and have grown into trees of doubt.

Unfortunately it’s not enough to know that these debilitating beliefs are not true. To get past them and eliminate them from our psyche takes practice. It’s not something that you will master in one day. If you were handed a musical instrument you wouldn’t be a master after a day, or a week. It takes practice.

The first step to combating this destructive behavior is awareness: Being mindful of the enemy within reduces its influence and power over us. When we notice it in our thinking and how it is influencing our behavior we must pay attention to it – recognize it, label it (this is my disease – these thoughts aren’t true and they’re not mine).

The next step is to challenge it: Am I really unworthy of better treatment, or is that the disease talking? Am I really being judged here, or do these people really not care what I’m doing? Why am I thinking about breaking no contact? Would that be good for me, or is that the disease/addiction talking? Is this logical? Does it make sense? Is it good for me?

The third step is to dismiss it: When you catch yourself in the middle of an inappropriate and destructive behavior and you’ve recognized it as being illogical and part of your disease – the next step is to stop the behavior, refuse to participate and replace it with a healthy response that serves your best interest. Example: (Destructive, repetitive thought) I haven’t heard from him in 2 weeks. I want to hear from him. I want to know he’s thinking about me that he still wants me. He did leave a pair of jeans here. Maybe I can just send him a text and tell him I want him to get his stuff out of here. That way I’ll still sound mad, but it will open up the lines of communication again. (Challenging thought) Why do I want to break no contact? Do I really think it’s going to be different this time? Is he/she going to change? Would contacting him/her again be good for me? No, no no and no. (Dismiss the thought and behavior) No I’m not doing this to myself again. I’m not going to keep hurting myself. This is my disease and I’m not going to let it control me. I deserve better. I’m going to keep focusing on me and getting my life back on track and that means staying no contact. Go for a walk, hit the treadmill, read an inspirational book, but by God don’t let it win.

These harmful thoughts can be very confusing, but when you get into the practice of being mindful of what’s influencing your judgement, you gain control over it. It’s not automatic and it will seem like a battle at first, but once you get into the habit of recognizing and challenging these thoughts you will have more control over your life. This is the essence of self-discipline.

“You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself…the height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment.” Leonardo Da Vinci

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