Dependency – My Story

Like narcissism, dependency runs on a spectrum.  It can range from totally reliant on the high end to simple people-pleasing.  As the son of an insolently proud “N” mother (see “Barry” in the book, and Dealing With Narcissists – The Narcissistic Adult Mother in this blog), I have personally experienced the warping of healthy relationships which N’s drive.

My mother’s dominance created an unspoken but real requirement on me and my siblings to keep her happy at all costs.  It did not rise to the extreme of dependency, but created in me an over-concern with pleasing people.  Involvement in my 20’s in a legalistic ministry focused on conformance to man’s expectations rather than living in God’s love did not help.  I was trapped by the  fear of what man thought, rather than what God thought.

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The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. 
  
Proverbs 29:25

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In fact, my expectation that everyone would think well of me was unrealistic.  Jesus said,
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Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.  

Luke 6:26

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People-pleasing drove my decisions, with time and money spent based on what others would think instead of what God wanted.  It also created issues with boundaries – in both directions.  Rather than having a principled view, and taking clear (but loving) steps forward consistent with that view, I wasted a huge amount of time and effort impelled by other’s expectations.

At times, when I needed to stand up and be counted even if it displeased people, I was silent.

Now that I recognize it, how do I fix it?   It has been deeply entrenched for a long time.  How do I go from a focus on people-pleasing, to truly implementing I Corinthians 16:13-14?

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Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love. 

I Corinthians 16:13-14

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Genuine love puts other’s interests first, but is not people-pleasing.  It is doing what’s best for the person.  Doing the right thing is more important than other’s pleasure or displeasure with us.

We’ll look at how to recognize and deal with the spectrum of dependency in upcoming posts.

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For an idea of what this blog is about, please see Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective