counterdependency

The Masks We Wear...Counterdependency

The Masks We Wear...Counterdependency

This week, as a tribute to the Halloween season, we are talking about masks.  Every day we can unknowingly put on different masks that hide us from various things we need in life:  intimacy, self-worth, love, belonging, identity, and freedom.  So far this week, we have discussed the masks of shame, codependency and addiction.  Today we will talk about the mask of counterdependency.

What is the mask of Counterdependency?

Counterdependents wear a mask that shows the outside world a "tough outer shell" with various traits that represent strength and success. As you read through this, picture the parts of this "mask" as hiding or covering up a very insecure, needy and vulnerable person underneath.  Some of the main counterdependent traits that make up their mask include:

How Do You Know You’re Ready for Counseling? Part 2

How Do You Know You’re Ready for Counseling? Part 2

As discussed yesterday, this week we're talking about how to know when you are ready individually or as a couple to begin counseling. For some, that decision may not be so clear.

Non-Traditional Addictions: Anger

Non-Traditional Addictions: Anger

"Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies", Nelson Mandela.

Resentment is a form of anger. You have probably heard that anger plays a large role in addictions. But did you know that there is an actual anger addiction?

Counterdependency Part 2

Counterdependency Part 2

Today we're going to discuss 4 of 7 characteristics of Counterdependency:

1. Grandiosity. Most counterdependents believe they are God's gift to the world. Granted, we're all special, but counterdependents believe they are even more special, and deserve special treatment by everyone and sometimes even demand it from others.

Counterdependency Part 1

Counterdependency Part 1

Many people are familiar with co-dependency issues, but do not always understand it’s counterpart: The counterdependent. This week we will help you see the many aspects of counterdependency and the impact is has on relationships. The following is a story of a counterdependent person:

The Masks We Wear... Counterdependency

This week, as a tribute to the Halloween season, we are talking about masks.  Every day we can unknowingly put on different masks that hide us from various things we need in life:  intimacy, self-worth, love, belonging, identity, and freedom.  So far this week, we have discussed the masks of Shame, Codependency and Addiction.  Today we will talk about the mask of Counterdependency. What is the mask of Counterdependency-- what does it look like?

Counterdependents wear a mask that shows the outside world a "tough outer shell" with various traits that represent strength and success (though as you read through this, picture the parts of this "mask" as hiding or covering up a very insecure, needy and vulnerable person underneath).  Some of the main Counterdependent traits that make up their mask include:

  • grandiose, or overly confident (to the point of being cocky)
  • Presenting to others that they are "always right" ( Their way is the "right" way and they are "always right")
  • Controlling
  • Success driven, to the point of being a workaholic
  • Independent-- Not good at being vulnerable and "needy"
  • Non-emotional or emotionally cut off
  • Abrasive
  • Show anger as a main feeling
  • Very visionary-- Counterdependents have great plans for the future to make them more successful, but little follow through
  • Not in touch with their own limitations (Counterdependents aren't good at recognizing when they feel sick and taking care of themselves when they need to go to the doctor, sleeping when their body tells them they are tired, etc.)

How can this mask  impact a Counterdependent's life?

Being successful can be a wonderful thing, but it can also destroy relationships if someone becomes so focused on success and a workaholic to the point where they aren't able to invest in their relationships.  A Counterdependent's difficulty with being vulnerable, expressing the full range of emotion, and allowing themselves to be in touch with even healthy needs, causes them to have difficulty with intimacy, which causes the partner of a Counterdependent to feel alone-- like they don't really "know" their partner.  It also causes a Counterdependent's children to feel a lack of authentic connection with their parent because the Counterdependent is often not present physically (often due to work), or might not know how to "let go" and have fun through play on their child's level.  Their abrasiveness, use of anger, and having to always be "right" and in control doesn't allow for mutual give and take in a relationship, can intimidate the people around the Counterdependent, keeps people at a distance from the Counterdependent, and doesn't allow relationships to be an intimate, two-way street.  Because of these traits, Counterdependents can often find themselves in the position where they lose many relationships and have relationships that are highly conflictual.  Not recognizing their limitations can cause premature death (not going to the doctor because they can "tough it out", when there is really a life threatening illness that eventually takes their life), burn-out, and a loss of relationships.

What Can Help?

It's important for a Counterdependent to recognize that the behaviors they have adopted to protect them early on in childhood, actually keep them isolated and many times, alone.  Addressing the fear that drives the counterdependent behaviors and learning how to be in touch with the full range of human emotion can improve relationships and help the counterdependent realize that they do, in fact, have needs.  Learning how to recognize their limitations and nurture themselves, as well as having intimacy and nurturing their relationships is imperative in their recovery process.  Also, acknowledging that the "mask" of Counterdependency is only just that-- a "mask", and realizing that they really are trying to protect themselves from feeling the fear, vulnerable, insecure parts of who they really are, is very important to moving past Counterdependent behaviors.  Many times, with Counterdependency, professional counseling with a therapist who has knowledge of Counterdependency is needed for healing and growth to begin.

So, which "masks" did you see in yourself from this week's blog?  We would love to hear from you!

References:

Counterdependency: The Flight From Intimacy by Janae and Barry Weinhold

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

How to Keep Your Sanity: If a Counterdependent Won't Get in Recovery

By now, you have heard the characteristics of Counterdependency.  But what do you do if you're in a relationship with one or work with one who refuses to address their issues or get into recovery? 1.  Get into recovery yourself.  When one person begins changing and growing towards being healthier, it has a direct impact on those around them-- even if they won't work on their own issues through counseling.  Learning how you contribute to the relational issues (even if it's in a passive way), can provide your relationship with changes that happen through your individual growth.  You may not be the one who is directly causing the issues, but you might be the one that is allowing them to be in your life!

2.  Don't argue with a Counterdependent.  Because Counterdependent's are "always right" and the way they argue is usually  grandiose and often times destructively critical and contemptuous, it can prove to be more frustrating than healthy to engage in arguements where you can't ever seem to be heard.  This doesn't mean to avoid conflict, but rather to choose your battles, and agree to disagree.  Know your own truth, and don't become engaged in contemptuous, belittling, rageful, grandiose, or attacking and unhealthy conflict.  Learn appropriate detachment through a professional counselor.

3.  Don't feed into their grandiosity.  Many times a Codependent will become involved with a Counterdependent, whether through work or relationship.  Initially, the Codependent will feed the Counterdependent's inflated ego and grandiosity.  This doesn't mean to withhold positive interactions and compliments, but do so in truth and not out of a place of seeking approval.

4.  Above all else, keep your boundaries!  Counterdependents can be pretty oblivious to the boundaries of those around them-- whether boundaries of physical space and time (standing too close, consistently showing up extremely late to meetings or committments with little remorse), emotion, thought, or sexual boundaries.  It is so important to not only set firm boundaries about what you will and will not allow with a Counterdependent, but even more important to follow through with the consequences of violating a boundary.  Boundaries with no follow through have no power.

5.  Find your own sense of "self", independent from the Counterdependent.  Many times, a Counterdependent takes ownership of the relational identity, including the majority of the "power".  If you find that you are "dependent" on this person to make you feel good about yourself or "worthy", find other ways that are healthier (and come from the inside) to have a better self esteem and self image.  Find your own hobbies and interests that make you feel good about yourself.  Develop healthy relationships outside of the Counterdependent.  If it's a work environment, develop healthy relationships with your co-workers that help promote a good support system for a healthier work environment.  Don't wait around on a Counterdependent to give you the things you can be giving yourself already.  After all, it doesn't usually feel very good to someone when you make them totally responsible for your own happiness!  Take ownership of your own happiness, and you will feel much more rewarded.

These are just a few of the things you can do to help you grow as a person, and keep your sanity if a Counterdependent refuses to get into recovery.  For more information, feel free to give one of our relationship experts a call!

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Counterdependency- Characteristics Part 2

On Tuesday, Tamara gave us great descriptions of 4 of the 7 characteristics of Counterdependency: Grandiose, Not knowing/respecting boundaries of others, Arrogant, and Independent. Thinking of anyone you know yet? Here are the remaining 3. 5. Oblivious/ Self-Centered- We often talk about how codependents stick their heads in the sand in denial but a counterdependent has their head in the clouds. They are very oblivious to others: their feelings, what's going on in their lives etc. They can also be very self-centered, feeling as if  the world revolves around them. This usually plays out in some sort of addiction- work, sex, drugs, alcohol, affairs. They often feel entitled and even justified in why they do what they do. "I am just providing for my family- I HAVE to work 80 hours a week!" Or "My wife hasn't had sex with me in 2 months- I am entitled to sex with my co-worker!" Those are extreme examples but you get the point.

6. Controlling- The counterdependent thinks their way is the best way and thinks everyone else should think that way, too! If anyone deviates from their way, they are "stupid" or "they can't do anything right!". They can also be very controlling in relationships with money, sex, and making sure their needs get met.

7. Shows sadness thru anger- Because counterdependents are really insecure at their core, they have difficulty expressing any emotion that might make them appear weak. Therefore, they hide sadness and show it thru anger. Often a counterdependent who is showing anger either by raging or controlling, is really sad or afraid of something. It is very difficult to get them to see this and understand it because anger is so familiar to them. Once they can see this and how their anger effects others, some healing can begin.

Now you've recognized one in your life, haven't you? There are many counterdependents in the world and most of us do deal with one at one time or another. Tomorrow Joleen is going to discuss how to keep your sanity if you have one in your life that is not in recovery. Thank you for reading today!

*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling.  We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.

Counterdependency

Many people are familiar with co-dependency issues, but do not always understand it’s counterpart: The counterdependent. This week we will help you see the many aspects of counterdependency and the impact is has on relationships. The following is a story of a counterdependent person:

Sally has been married to Jim for 15 years. They have 2 elementary age boys, and live a fairly good life.  Jim is a high-powered businessman in the nearby big city. He likes that many people know his name. Jim works 75+ hours a week and rarely takes time away from his computer and blackberry at home, and he often plays golf with his friends in his down time. Jim demands respect wherever he goes, including at home. His son’s are always begging for more time to play with him, but he often only connects with them through sports. However, the boys are often embarrassed by their dad’s behavior at their games when he yells at anyone who disagrees with him and often stomps off the field after getting kicked out by the referee.

Sally finds herself struggling to meet Jim’s expectations at home. He is a hard man to please. All she wants is to sit down and connect with him on a deeper emotional level, but that rarely happens. Even when they have special date nights it seems like he controls the conversation talking about all the great things he’s doing, or complaining about people who don’t see things his way.  He always seems guarded, rarely apologizes for his sharp digs and criticism, and has trouble seeing things that he does as a problem in the relationship.

Do you know someone like Jim? Keep reading through the week to learn more!

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.  Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.