From Co-Dependency to Alchemical Relationship With Hypnosis
"I have spent a lifetime creating relationships with people who were not able to return kindness, love, and caring. The result was a painful, frustrating wasting away of my own heart through starvation. During my training as a Hypnotherapist, an Alchemical journey restored my power to make healthy choices. This transformative process allowed me to discover and change the old programming that kept me locked in a hopeless pattern, trying to squeeze the blood of kindness and caring out of 'turnips.' Now in their place I am drawing into my life people who are alive and warm, and have hearts full of love and generosity of spirit. I have also experienced a blossoming of creative energy, and am astounded by how much of that energy was drained off by that old pattern. Now I am joyfully pursuing my dreams."Alexa Simpson
Co-dependency is a universal topic in the psychotherapy and recovery communities. But its complexities are still little understood by the lay populace among whom this syndrome is virtually epidemic. Our perspective on this complex topic is that cop-dependency includes a relationship of lies and unconscious deceit based upon the desperation and fears of the inner child. Its solution is telling the truth about our feelings and needs which is made possible by building the resources of a new Inner Family for that child.
The lie of co-dependency is subtle. It consists of an unspoken agreement that two people will choose to pretend that their needs are being fulfilled in the relationship rather than acknowledging the loneliness, disappointment and resentment which are common in most relationships. A recent study in a woman’s magazine revealed that over 70% of married women are lonely. In our opinion, this reveals how lacking in intimacy and romantic fulfillment most relationships are. Often two people feel unable to achieve the love they need because of a childhood in which their needs and the needs of their parents were not met. Their belief system, based on this experience, is that "since there is no such thing as a fulfilling relationship and I cannot bear to be lonely, I will settle for what I can get and not cause trouble." We may even deny our own needs in order to meet the needs of a partner in the hopes that this partner will somehow either be "fixed" into loving us or somehow be inspired by gratitude to give us what we need.
Here are examples of the attitudes characteristic of the co-dependent who is operating out of the above strategy:
- My self-esteem rests on receiving your approval of my behavior.
- My attention is focused on pleasing and protecting you.
- My self-esteem depends upon relieving your pain and solving your problems.
- My fear of rejection and your anger determines what I say or do.
- My social circle diminishes as I involve myself with you.
- It's just too scary for me to talk about my disappointments around this relationship with you.
As the co-dependent relationship breaks down, our anger and disappointment often begins to "leak" into the relationship. But rather than resort to telling the truth, the following strategies tend to be pursued:
- One partner blames the other and projects their anger and rage onto the other.
- External friends and interests are blamed for the problem and eliminated from the couple's life.
- Sexual jealousies and affairs fog over the true problem.
- One or both partners may escape into addictive behavior (compulsive eating, drug use, etc.)
- Repeated attempts to rescue, enable or fix our partner lead to chronic anger and feeling victimized by the partner's unwillingness to change.
So what can we do today to change the pattern? The solution is two fold. First, through finding the love and nurturance of a new Inner Family, we experience a new model of being in relationship. The Inner Family is a unique element of the Alchemical Process through which we tap into the collective unconscious (higher power) through hypnosis and discover the pure archetypes of loving parents. Then, through months or years of daily communication with these aspects of Self, we learn a new way of being in a family. A necessary adjunct of this work is the freeing of our Inner Child from the trauma, loneliness and shame of our original upbringing through dramatic "rescue missions" for the child from the trauma in our memory banks.
The second phase is practicing telling the Truth as we relate with others. Gay and Cathylin Hendricks describe this process in their book, Conscious Loving (Bantam, 1990). They call this way of truth-telling "The Microscopic Truth." They define this as the truth that cannot be argued about . . . a clear statement of feeling, of body sensation or what you actually did. In other words, in the safety of a workshop or therapy environment and in the presence of your partner, go into your body to the feeling that lies there. Then allow it to emerge as "I" statements . . . statements about what I feel, I want, I need. This process is not about dredging up the past, making attacks or judgments. It's about communicating your inner experience, about releasing blocked energy, and telling the truth that can set us free.
When we enter relationships from the place of a happy child whose needs are met by a loving family and as an adult who knows how to tell the truth of what he is feeling, we enter the Co-Creative Relationship, which is true Alchemy. Some characteristics of a Co-Creative relationship include:
- Each person allows the other to be new each day.
- Each partner recognizes that he/she is totally autonomous and responsible for the fulfillment of his/her own needs.
- Each person is willing to give love and to receive it without conditions.
- The truth is more highly valued than the uneasy peace that comes from lies and deception.
In order to begin this exciting journey for yourself, contact our office for the next Alchemy of Relationships Training. You do not have to be a trained Alchemist or student of Alchemy to participate in this exciting journey of self discovery.
Richard Beyer, M.A., is a faculty member and co-founder of the Transformational Therapy program at the Heartwood Institute in Northern California. Richard is a Designated Examiner and Certified Instructor for the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners. He teaches The Alchemy of Relationships at Heartwood and elsewhere.
David Quigley is the creator of Alchemical Hypnotherapy and founder of the Alchemy Institute of Healing Arts. A popular teacher and speaker, he leads hypnotherapy training's throughout Northern California.
Co-Dependency Quiz: Here is a PDF co-dependency quiz for you to try. It is borrowed with permission from Talking to My Selves: Learning to Love the Voices in Your Head by Debbie Unterman.