I am absolutely certain that 99.9% of interpersonal issues and drama in our relationships can be ultimately traced to one cause: wanting people to be different from how they actually are. Included in that percentage is all those times that we want people to stop behaving in ways that WE actually behave, too. What if we could all just relax a little, and see and accept people for all of who they are? What if we could each just let others be?
The 7 Childhood Treasures open, at birth, with a "turn-key" solution, in my not-so-humble professional opinion. Owning your Treasure of Trust and being needy are what it's all about.
Needing other people scares most of us silly. For many of us, any nearness to vulnerability, any hint that we might need to depend on someone else, triggers waves of shame and negative self-judgment. For some of us, who grew up in families like mine (A.K.A. a workshop for the creation of damaged adults), even the suggestion of dependence can trigger the survival level of the brain. I used to fight, flee from, or freeze in the presence of my own vulnerability. Actually depending on someone else was out of the question.
So, I co-depended on them.
I bet lots of you do or have done this, too -- co-depend, rather than depend. It's easier and "safer," frankly. Unfortunately, it's also a death-knell in a relationship.
What is codependence exactly? Let me give you some examples. When I co-depend on you, I try to give you what you want without asking you what that is. I change my behavior to try to change your current emotional state, or to prevent any unpleasant feelings you might have in the near future. The reality that I create for myself is that I am responsible for how you feel, whether you're successful, even whether you love me or don't. I spend a lot of time planning how to ask or tell you things, pre-managing our conversations. The height of co-dependence is a belief that, if I behave just right, then you will finally love me in the right ways, be happy, want to stay with me, stop being so angry all the time....
One sure way to move away from co-depending on others is to develop healthy boundaries with the Childhood Treasure of Independence. Yet, the grand design of our human developmental pathway is that we must first learn to trust, as infants, before we can develop the boundaries that make us more discerning about whom we trust, which we don't do until we're toddlers.
If you'd like to try Trust on for size, with a dose of healthy boundary, then here's a little tool for you to use: your Ticket to Trust. Try these three steps to relax into safely needing others:
Here's a simple example of this process. To my best friend, I say, "Sue, I need you to listen to me rant my most insane thoughts about this other friendship, without judgment or fixing me. Here's my Ticket to Trust. Will you do that for me?" My friend Sue is likely to say yes to this request, so I Trust her, for the next 10 minutes. I am, briefly, dependent on her to be be an open vessel for my mania. I trust her to let all my ranting flow through her like the sewage it is, through her pristine pipeline of an open heart. I trust that, while in my vulnerable state of verbalizing my most childish feelings about someone else, I will hear nothing from her that tells me I am wrong in any way. I trust I will not be patronized, pitied, or managed, or told how to fix myself.
And then the moment is over. Five or 10 minutes later, I am no longer trusting my friend with a vulnerability. And I'm safe. And my capacity for trust is a little stronger, a little healthier. My Treasure of Trust is shining a bit more.
Here are two cautions for this exercise, if you decide to try it. First, notice that I depended on Sue safely. I asked for something to which I knew she was likely to agree. As Sue and I learn, gently, how to expand our awareness of how we depend on each other, I didn't choose the most high-stakes, most vulnerable need I have, as my starter course. Nor did I choose one that isn't likely to go well with this particular person, based on my past experience. I chose wisely, both my state of dependence and my trusted supporter.
Second, beware of being the only one in the relationship who is using your ticket. If the other person has not used theirs, and you've used yours five times, it's time for a conversation. Are you really in this together? It may be time to answer for yourself: Should you still be vulnerable about trusting someone to meet your needs, if they're not willing to be similarly vulnerable with you?
I invite you to take advantage of this opportunity! How often are you given such explicit and generous permission to relax into trust? You even have a ticket! What could be a more official entry to the bigtop tent of trust?
The Childhood Treasure of Trust is one enormous, billowy-soft pillow. Lean back. Breathe deeply. Let your muscles soften.
Now, go ahead. DO be needy, even if just for a few minutes. If you're a newbie to Trust, just do it consciously and carefully!