The Foundation of Freedom From Codependency

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How do you escape from “codependency”, or avoid it in the first place?  The first obvious step is to see that it’s happening.  Tragically, recognizing codependency is difficult for the naive, and especially the young.

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The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it.   
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Proverbs 22:3

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Awareness and admission of dependency requires a gut check.  On the one hand, am I over-reliant on someone for my needs, fulfillment, or happiness?  On the other hand, is someone over-reliant on me for his/her needs, fulfillment, happiness?  Is my controller’s apparent reliance on me genuine, or a cover to make themselves the center my world?  Am I constantly walking on eggshells around this person?

Everyone has legitimate needs – both physical and emotional – and God intends for people to help each other with those needs.   Galatians 6:2 says:

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Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ  ….. 

Galatians 6:2

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But right after this, Paul goes on to say that in the end we must assume responsibility for ourselves:

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…..  For each one will bear his own load.   

Galatians 6:5

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The controller will turn your God-given motivation to help others into enslavement and dominance.  He ignores the both/and balance discussed in Galatians 6 that while we are called to bear each other’s burdens, in the end every one carries their own load and must trust God. 

There are many things for which we must trust only God, instead of looking to others.  The simplest example is breathing.  We breathe for ourselves…. and every breath we take comes from God.  Paul told the Athenians….

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…. nor is He (God) served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;     

Acts 17:25

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To break free of our controller’s emotional control, we need to make clear distinctions between legitimate needs and manipulative actions.  We can help them with legitimate needs, but should also give them space to take personal responsibility and look to God for the rest.  This is easier said than done.

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We also need to place the meeting of our own needs in God’s hands.  Breaking free requires that we transfer our hope and and source of strength from our controller to something or someone else – a better source that truly cares and has real strength themselves.  Yes, we can turn to human solutions …..

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    • Someone else.  For the the emotionally weak, they may once again gravitate toward a “strong personality”, controlling, narcissistic type, and simply repeat the same loop.  “Someone else” is the great illusory hope for many, but typically just substitutes one false hope for another.

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    • A “group” of some sort, such as
        • An affinity group – college alumni, sports teams, fishing, stamp collectors, Star Wars junkies, etc.
        • The “government” – the problem with this is that this can easily become simply a bigger “controller”, and does not provide any emotional support

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    • Ourselves – advocated by the self-help crowd.  It is not without merit, as it may help develop a mindset of personal responsibility.  However, total self-reliance is an illusion.  There are limits to our capacity for complete self-reliance.  God designed us most importantly to need Him – so that we would seek Him – and to also need others (to a point)

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…. but, while these solutions may help you break free from the emotional dominance of your current controller, they all have serious limitations.  The only true source of strength is God Himself (supplemented by those He brings into our life).  God has communicated this to us in many ways throughout the Bible.  He says,

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‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 

Isaiah 41:10

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God invites us to look to Him, instead of our proud, unreliable, narcissistic controller

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I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the Lord.

 

How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.   

Psalm 40:1-4

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Once we realize that we need to switch our dependency from our controller to God, how do we actually do it?  Where do we start?

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Next up:  Breaking Free

Dealing With Narcissists – Fact Check Everything

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As a narcissist is notoriously unreliable, it is important to fact check (at least to yourself) what comes out of their mouth rather than accept they say at face value.

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Proverbs 14.15 – “The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps.”

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Proverbs 18.17 – “The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.”

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Matthew 18.16 – “so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.”

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2 Corinthians 13.1 – “This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”

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1 Timothy 5.19 – “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.”

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Narcissists / those with insolent pride tend to exaggerate their skills, accomplishments, track record, commitment to the cause, etc.   They also will stretch the truth or outright lie in order to get what they want.   And they do not hesitate to trash the reputation of those who get in their way.  So while this basic biblical principle of confirming things instead of believing every thing you are told is always appropriate – it is especially applicable when dealing with narcissists.

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Please see Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective for an overview and frame of reference on what this blog is about.

 

Narcissism and The Progression of Fools – Continued

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In part 1 of “Narcissism and the Progression of Fools” we discussed the basic sequence of how a person can progressively harden their hearts as they wander away from God’s path.   A scoffer (one of the Biblical terms for a narcissist), is one stop along that path.

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For your further study, following is a list of all the verses which include the Hebrew words which were used in the previous post.  I have made a rough attempt at grouping them by subject matter in order to make it easier to digest the large number of verses, but the groupings and their headings are simply a guide.  I encourage you to study them for yourselves.

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Continue reading

Dealing with Narcissists – Do Not Turn To Them For Help

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Psalm 40:4

How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.

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[See here for the full context]

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In our zeal to get something done, or out of desperation to resolve a situation we sometimes look for help in the wrong places.  And the result may be that we find ourselves worse off than before.  This can be especially true of reaching out to narcissists (insolent pride / proud / haughty / scoffers) for help.    There are practical reasons why God warns us not to reach out to narcissists:

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  1. The narcissist will many times “get it wrong” (see here and here)
  2. God is fundamentally opposed to a narcissist’s pride, so HE is not likely to bless the work of their hands (James 4 and here)
  3. Narcissists are unreliable (Psalm 5)
  4. Narcissists have a self-centered agenda, so they will turn things around from helping you to somehow helping or glorifying themselves – while making a big show about helping (Proverbs 25:14 and here and here)
  5. Narcissists will likely try to take over – but only to the extent that they can command you what to do, not to the extent of actually helping (see here)
  6. The Narcissist will likely create much more conflict than any actual help they provide (see here)
  7. Narcissists will make sure to tell you that they themselves would never have gotten into the situation that you’re in (see here)

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But there are also other reasons “why” God wants to turn to Him in our time of need, rather than to an arrogant human.  More about this when we more fully address the “why” question.

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  • Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here