Much of my Skype sessions with clients revolve around teaching people how to reprogram their thinking and to create a happy, healthy and loving relationship with themselves. I’ve listed two techniques I use to help people deal with their thought distortions and challenge their perceptions.
Bubble Soccer Theorem
Imagine that you are inside of a giant inflated bubble like the ones people use to play bubble soccer. Inside this bubble is everything you need to be a happy, healthy, authentic human being. Your self-esteem is in the bubble. Your confidence is in the bubble. Your joy, success, happiness, stability, independence, self-love, value, drive and purpose are all inside the bubble. Your bubble is with you at all times and all these things are accessible by you, anytime you need them. You’re responsible for the shape and appearance of your bubble. Is it inflated to the appropriate level? Is it clean and functioning properly as it should? These things are on you.
When you’re codependent, you’re more interested in the state of other people’s bubbles. If the bubble of someone you love is underinflated, you rush over and give them some of your air. You’re quick to clean their bubble and keep it nice, so that it looks good and presentable. At the same time your own bubble is dilapidated, neglected and undervalued.
When you’re a codependent and in a relationship, you don’t want to stay in your bubble, you want to shimmy out of yours and camp out with your partner inside of their bubble and you don’t care what happens to yours. When you take up residence in someone else’s bubble all of those things that were accessible in your own bubble (see list above) are no longer within reach and you are now dependent upon others to give you those things that were once within your reach. You’re playing by someone else’s rules and even though you try to control the bubble’s direction, it will always belong to someone else and be outside of your control.
It’s important as a recovering codependent that you are mindful of your bubble at all times and that you already have everything you need within your own bubble. You’ve been trained to believe that there is something wrong with your bubble. That it’s faulty and bad and you’ve spent your entire life hating it and trying to get out of it. The problem has never been your bubble, the problem is your perception of your bubble. Your bubble is not faulty and flawed. Your bubble is perfect and malleable to any and all love and care you give it.
Be aware of this tendency to undervalue your bubble. Remember that your bubble is extremely valuable and that its maintenance is your responsibility. No one is going to show up in your life and try to convince you that your bubble is important and special. This is something that you have to understand on your own.
You are meant to stay inside your bubble and others are meant to stay inside of theirs. There should always be some distance between you and any potential partner, as your growth and wellbeing should always be your top priority. Whether or not a partner stays in your life or they leave, you are fine either way, because you already have everything you need.
You will always find men and women who don’t want to, or who don’t know how, to take care of their own bubble. These types get very good at conning and manipulating others to take care of their bubble, while not giving a fig about what happens to yours. You’ve always got to remember that you are responsible for yours and they are responsible for theirs. When you are feeling lonely, unloved or unconfident, remember that all you have to do is reach into your bubble and you will always find the answers there.
Navigate your life mindful of your own bubble and your responsibility to it. Every time you go out, every time you interact with someone – remember you are and have everything you need. Stop yourself from investing too much in other people’s bubbles and most importantly, learn to value your bubble – it is your greatest gift.
Label it, Minimize it, Throw it away (LMT)
Thought distortions are habitual ways of thinking that are often inaccurate and negatively biased. They are unhealthy and maladaptive in nature and they interfere with our everyday life. They often resemble thought patterns such as, “I’m not good enough,” “There’s something wrong with me,” “I’m not worthy of love…”etc. They can also be self-sabotaging in nature, such as, “You’re never going to be thin, why bother,” “You’ll never finish that book, so why even waste your time….”
They can also be obsessive in nature, where your mind is trying to keep you fixated on something painful, like a ex who is now with someone new, or replaying hurtful past events over and over again. Regardless of what shape they take, they generally have one agenda – to keep you stuck and in a place of hurt.
You are not your thoughts
LMT is a technique I use to help clients separate themselves from these thought distortions. What it essentially does is it reminds you that these negative thoughts are not you. They are your programming, your neuropathways, and you are not these thoughts. You are separate from them.
Label it – “This is a thought distortion.”
You have to be mindful of these thoughts as they enter your mind. Don’t allow them space to run around because they will always try to remind you that you are deficient in one way or another. When a negative and hurtful thought enters your mind take a step back and ask yourself, “Why am I thinking this thought?” or “Why am I feeling this way?” When you stop it in it’s tracks and step back from it you can see that it is a thought distortion. So, label as such.
Once you label it, once you know what it is, you take away its power. If you left these thoughts unchecked and allowed them to swim around in your brain, they will always turn into more evidence that you are lacking in some way. But when you label it, you separate yourself from it and minimize its impact and it stops your emotions from getting involved.
Throw it away!
Once you’ve labeled the thought – “This is a thought distortion, or this is my codependency,” You minimize its impact. I’m separate from this. This isn’t the truth. This is my programming. Once you’ve stopped it in it’s tracks and you know what it is, you don’t absorb the painful emotions that usually come with it and so you can throw it away.
I’ll give you an example. Some time ago I was at the grocery store and I approached the conveyer belt and started to load my groceries to be bagged and checked out. I had loaded vegetables and lean proteins but I had a huge craving for something sweet, so I reached over and grabbed a chocolate bar and placed it with my other groceries. I instantly felt a wave of shame and embarrassment wash over me. I felt like the woman behind me was judging me, that the checkout girl would be judging me and so I was able to recognize the thought and the emotions as a though distortion. I took a step back and realized that neither the woman behind me nor the checkout girl could care less about my chocolate bar and that this toxic shame was part of my codependency. Once I knew what it was, I instantly minimized its impact and I was able to throw it away and get on with my day.
Do you need help dealing with a toxic relationship or with your Codependency? Click here to find out how you can Skype with Savannah.
Love this article and the self help tools !
The bubble analogy is absolutely brilliant
I finally finally get it
And it makes it so much easier to keep setting boundaries
Understanding when a narcissist is trying to con you into worrying about “their “ bubble at the expense of your own
Or blaming you for the state of “their “ bubble or telling you that their messed up bubble is your fault
I feel freed with that analogy
Thank you for another great post. Your teachings are always spot on and I love reading all you post on codependency.
I like the LMT tool: Label, Minimize and Throw it away. Its really true that noticing a thought separates it from the herd and you can see it for what it is. Not easy to do but its getting easier with time for me. Good article. Thank you. I never knew about bubble soccer. It looks so fun!
Understanding codependency can be confusing. However what you just wrote was absolutely brilliant. The bubble visualization made me have an AHA moment… and so many more as I continued reading your article.
What you wrote has just summarized and explained codependency to me better than any of the therapy I received. WOW!!!
I’m going to practice this bubble visualization as I go about my day, and self check my interactions with others.
The programming is absolutely spot on. I am very aware of it…n I really hate that these are my instinctual reactions to the world. I know it was what I was taught, and every day I try to fight it… but i realize i can’t. They are there, but I can never stop challenging it or self correcting.
One of your best articles… and probably one of the best ones on codependency.