Let’s define codependency as being too easily involved in the pain and needs of others, and failing to put oneself first in a healthy manner. The codependent person in this sense is the one who would give up the shirt off his or her back and wind up shivering with cold as a result.
Ned was a such a person– taking care of others, but forgetting to look after himself. He was taken advantage of quite frequently. Constantly in group Ned found himself crying for the pain of others, as if he were the one with the problem. This wasn’t empathy or compassion, but rather a compulsive and automatic response that would result in his doing for the other person in pain, trying to help them instead of working on his own problems.
When I said, “Think about your codependency,” he tested weak. On “I am free from the compulsion to help others,” he was also weak. Muscle testing took us back to age three. We finally pieced together that Ned had been traumatized when one of his little friends was yelled at by his mother for playing in a way that he (Ned) had initiated. He over-identified and felt responsible. He decided, “If someone has a problem, it’s my fault, and I must help.”
We cleared the incident and I asked him to help his Inner Child come to new decisions and agreements. He seemed pleased with the results.
On “Think about your codependency,” he now tested strong, confirming that something had changed. On “I am free from the compulsion to help others,” he was now strong as well.
The first indication that something was different occurred in the next group. One woman was sharing the trauma of her sexual abuse. It was very emotional. But Ned was able to maintain a comfortable detachment. He could let her have her own pain, without rushing in to fix things and without being compelled to help. This was the first time he could recall feeling so much choice and freedom in such a situation, and he was grateful.
We agreed that this was not a cure for codependency, but only a method of pulling the plug on the energy from the original incident that fueled the decision to become codependent in the first place.