Category Archives: co-dependency

Alone With Myself

The busyness of life can make it easy to avoid being alone with yourself. Everything from errands to emails and carpools to committees keeps our time locked up. iPhones and Instagram give us the freedom to search and scan anyplace and allow for us to numb our own thoughts and experiences. We put music in our ears and videos in front of our eyes, entering into the noise that tunes out our own thoughts, emotions, and inner experiences. We never have to be bored and if we are not interested in something or someone, we simply tune in to tune out.

But, what is the cost of tuning out ourselves?

What happens when we forget to practice knowing, listening, and caring for ourselves is an unsettling thought. The risk of being disconnected and distracted from the one relationship we will always be a part of is significant. Self-awareness is subpar. Creativity is compromised. Self-soothing is sacrificed. Interdependence is irrelevant. And awareness is absent.

Like any relationship, to learn and know the other, we must spend time together. We learn ourselves in this same way. We spend time in thought, learning about where our mind takes us–what ideas it brings up, what stories it tells us, and what it longs to know more of. We spend time in emotion, noticing what information our feelings are giving us and how they are hoping to serve us best. And with time we become curious and responsive to our feelings rather than avoidant and reactive.

“Truly transformational knowledge is always personal, never merely objective. It involves knowing of, not merely knowing about. And it is always relational. It grows out of a relationship to the object that is known—whether this is God or one’s self.”

―David G. Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself

As Benner writes, and I echo, “knowing of” is different than knowing “about,” or knowing facts about oneself. You can know you don’t like eggplant, classic rock, or math. Knowing of though, knowing of is knowledge about your identity. It is the backdrop to what makes you tick and how you know your worth. It’s the awareness of your comfort with certain ideas and fear around others. It’s the weight of resting in your abilities and limitations. It’s the why behind your preference of ideas and information that resonate in your head and heart.

Knowing of oneself is the beautifully messy practice of being seen by yourself, faults and all, and learning yourself. It’s going deeper into your needs and wants, stretching yourself in acknowledging the parts of you that create discontentment, and making peace through acceptance and love for the unique way in which you are you. It is learning to be ok with you, and maybe even learning to like you, not in spite of your humanness, but alongside it.

This isn’t an excuse to stay stuck or ineffective. Rather, an honest acceptance of where you are and what you are doing, effective or not, that gives grace to your faults and less desirable parts.  This self-given grace gives way to growth and change. It cannot help but give birth to ideas, talents, and passions. As you learn the ways in which you best learn, grow, connect, and soothe, you move towards goals, values, and contentment.

As the temptation towards busy arises within you this coming month, I encourage you to take time alone. Absorb the silence on an early morning run, letting your mind and heart connect. Pause over a cup of coffee, no agenda or technology, simply noticing those around you. Make space to learn yourself by experiencing yourself without distraction or easy ways of disconnecting. Learn to be alone with yourself and learn to be in the best relationship with the one person who will be with you the rest of your life.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

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Standing On The Sidelines

When we think of morning devotionals, we often think of encouraging words and connections to Scripture to start the day. These reminders of the call to live as we are created and show up as the men and women we want to be help with the outflow in our coming daily interactions. We may remember an idea or phrase, rolling it over in our mind as how to best incorporate or practice it throughout the day. Some of these thoughts become sticky, convicting, or calls to action.

There is a quote in the popular devotional My Upmost for His Highest that does just this. The March 24 reading discusses our role in sharing the gospel and ends with, “You may often see Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it.” It’s sticky and stays around a bit. It’s convicting and hits you in the gut. It’s a call to action, in this case that of inaction. Simply put, it’s an invitation to stand on the sidelines.

And standing on the sidelines is scary. Standing on the sidelines is painful.

Standing on the sidelines is hard.

Parents, bosses, friends, spouses, whatever the relationship, it can be gut-wrenching and beyond aggravating to watch a loved one make poor decisions, run from truth, avoid responsibility or create their own negative consequences. The unknown outcomes that race through your mind and the needless pain that seems avoidable can create an internal tension that seems impossible to tolerate. How do you not jump in, how do you not say something, how do you not share your two-cents? After all, it’s for their benefit!

And yet, to stand on the sidelines when you can take action is sometimes the most faithful, helpful, and effective thing you can do.

As much as we’d like, we can’t change others. Often they do not hear the suggestions we offer if they themselves aren’t asking the questions. This route of offering information can seem helpful, but instead of leading to the outcomes we are hoping for, it often leads to rupture and resentment. Children angry at parents who jump in and don’t let them learn, spouses resentful towards one another as they offer unsolicited input, friends put out by assumptions that their way is always wrong.

So how do we move aside and watch as God grows and teaches and changes the hearts and lives of those we love?

In order to stand on the sidelines, we must examine what is happening in us–both thoughts and emotions–that wants something different. Perhaps it is to avoid painful emotional consequences, receive validation, or simply save time. As we figure out what we are needing, we must learn to take care of these needs ourselves, as best we can, while allowing the other the space to struggle, fail, grow, and learn.

It may mean waiting it out while a child stays up to finish procrastinated homework. It might be sleeping on an airport floor with a spouse who refused travel input. It could be faithfully standing by while watching a friend date someone unhealthy. And instead of adding advice and the “I told you so,” we mindfully choose to remain in quiet prayer, discern the times to speak up, talk to a trusted confidants, set new relational boundaries, or possibly forego a hoped for shared relational experience. And all this while God works and you wait.

The difficulty in allowing others to experience what they need for growth often forces us into discomfort ourselves. But perhaps the most beautiful thing is that we too learn to struggle well as we stand on the sidelines.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

Who Said It’s Supposed to be Easy?

One of the biggest lies our culture tells us is that love, if it’s “right,” should be easy. We see Facebook quizzes and online articles reporting specific ways of knowing and promoting easy love. We scan celebrity Instagrams and friends’ Snapchats, all highlighting this “right” sort of love, making it look easy while vacationing or enjoying perfect dinners out.

However. Love is never easy because relationships are never easy. Parent/child, friends, romantic, and professional, none of these relationships present themselves as free from conflict, disagreement, mismatched priorities and generally some form of rupture. Over and over again, love experiences rupture and repair. And needless to say, we generally dislike rupture.

It’s the repair piece that most of us aren’t willing to stay around for and work out.

Steadfast love is what most of us dream about. We long for the one who will overlook our rupture tendencies while he or she never has cause to rupture because of his or her love for us. Obviously if it is “right” we will never have conflicting wants and our other will happily bow out. Two growing and changing people will never find peace in this quest. They must learn and practice repair on a daily basis.

What if instead of avoiding rupture, we aim to be the kind of partners, parents, friends and colleagues who learn to healthily and effectively navigate them? What if we allow our other freedom and offer encouragement while we endure alongside? This is not an invitation to becoming a doormat, rather an invitation to live in relationships that fully experience how to be “right” by learning how to get it wrong and allowing others the same space.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

To discuss your relationships and gain new repair skills, contact Lindsay today.