CFN– Sometimes in life there are intersections you come to that give pause and make it so that your direction changes. One such intersection concerns ones health. When I think about health I consider it to be all in one with no division as to whether it is emotional, spiritual, mental or physical. I think holistically and believe that to be well encompasses the whole being.
There comes a time when we should know ourselves well enough to realize that our health is a gift that needs to be treasured and safeguarded. One of the common denominators in causing one’s health to get worse is stress. Excessive stress can lead to so many problems. One of the causes of hidden stress is the expectations we place upon ourselves, and the expectations we place upon others. Managing those expectations in a healthy way is vital to our well being, and the well being of all concerned.
The reason I bring up the subject of managing expectations is that most of the time these are nameless and hidden. We have a whole set of expectations imposed on us from the moment we are born. Cultural biases are fed to us along with milk and cereal, we don’t even have a chance of escaping them, we can only hope to reach a point where we can bring them out in the open and name them. Take, for instance, being born into a family where both parents are university graduates. They tell you, from a very young age, that you are going to their university when you turn eighteen, they give you messages that you are capable of this achievement and you will be supported. Is this a good thing? Well, it depends on that is what you want. But, how are you going to know what you want if you are never given a chance to think for yourself? The reverse can also be true, if you are born into a family where there is no interest in academic success and the best you can hope for is a full-time job at the packing plant. In either scenario you could be happy or you could be miserable. That is why it is important in life to come to an intersection and take the time to think things through before just accepting what is imposed from those outside of ourselves.
We are going through an intense process of change now in our societies all around the globe. It must be becoming evident to most of us that for our collective future to be bright we have to be healthy. In order to do so we maybe ought to scale back on the stress in our lives and examine when we can do individually and collectively to address the problem. One of the major causes of my personal stress has been a heavy investment in codependent behaviour, to the point that I literally did not know who I was. That has changed, mercifully, and I am having a serious break-up with co-dependence.
Co-dependence is a form of caring that has selfish roots and is toxic, it is taught to us from generations back as a way to survive and comes from a mentality of anxious behaviour based in fear. I shall offer a common example: a wife who harasses her husband when he comes home drunk. Not only is he in no condition to hear her screaming at him, it causes the children in the family to get totally stressed out. The wife would tell you that she is only trying to help him to stay sober. We call all see that what she is doing is no help at all. When people are codependent they cannot see that for themselves and need assistance to understand how to get out of the trap.
Once co-dependent behaviour is taught it becomes the default position for all behaviour within that family and out they go into the world carrying its time bomb.
There are simple methods for evolving past being codependent. Instead of reacting to others, we can take time for reflection, asking ourselves what we are feeling and naming our needs. This can be a simple reflection – it can be written down, it can be said out loud, it is helpful to connect a feeling to a need. We can begin by acknowledging that there is a problem and we don’t just want to try to ignore it anymore as it causes us to lose our health. We can also begin to establish some boundaries for ourselves in terms of what we will and will not accept.
Shirley lives and works in Cornwall, Ontario and is a member of the Baha’i International community, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org