Codependency is a strategy the body creates in order to preserve a sense of safety, connection, and self-worth within a chaotic, unsafe, unreliable relationship.
The sense of danger the relationship creates for the individual activates the body’s natural fawning response (aka the please-and-appease response), prompting the person to do things that make themselves more appealing to the threat – all in hopes of reducing the risk of harm, abandonment, or replacement.
But before this happened, your body naturally advocated for you. You may not remember it, but there was a moment your body protested what was going on, spoke up, and confronted things. There was a moment where the word, “no”, came out of your mouth naturally, without trembling or fear.
There were moments where you asked, without hesitation, for something you wanted, or shared something you liked, or asked questions. You instinctively explored, played, and wondered at the world.
Then came the threat of abandonment, harm, or replacement.
This is where you learned that advocating, sharing, and being you was unsafe and unwanted.
It shows up as, “I learned really fast that if I said no, there would be consequences”. “I spoke up about my pain and they yelled at me”. “I remember one time I decided I was gonna do my thing and they got really upset and attacked me.”
Sometimes we do not remember these moments advocacy, exploration, and expression. This is because they happened when we were really young, and were brief and inconsistent. For many of us, our fight response was suppressed extremely yearly in our development.
We learned through harm and threat to keep quiet, to stay in the background, to avoid rocking the boat. Our voice was not permitted. We were suppressed.
This natural advocacy is still there. It is the fire that moves you to speak up, to stand strong in your body, to take up space, and to cause turbulence on your behalf.
It shows up in many ways, including:
– Saying no clearly and guilt-free
– Saying yes clearly and guilt-free
– Owning your behaviors
– Taking decisive action on your behalf
– Confronting problems directly, kindly
– Standing firm in your boundaries
– Calling out behavior that hurts and establishing boundaries
– Taking up space and resources
– Directing your life according to your desires, values, and principles
– Asking for what you want
Yet, how can we connect again with this part of ourselves when we’ve learned so deeply that it’ll bring separation, discard, and deep hurt?
How do we navigate fawning and freezing back into our natural advocacy response?
This starts with recognizing the relationship you have to fight, to anger, to aggressive energy, to your own inner warrior and advocate self.
Is it shame? Is it numbness? Does your body immediately shut that down?
These responses are part of the path back to you. In my work, we receive them with warmth, and legitimize their presence. “I acknowledge the shame I feel in response to being angry, to rocking the boat. I see how this shame was taught to me by the way I was treated when I did these things in the past. No wonder I feel it now. I’m doing things I’ve been told are bad and selfish!”
Pausing here will allow you to notice how your body shifts in it’s emotional/somatic relationship to the shame and to the topic of embracing your fight response.
This will pave the way forward, as this step is actually you advocating for your fight response and beginning the differentiation process that separates your fight/advocate response from the shame you’ve been programmed to feel.
This helps open up the space for granting yourself permission to advocate for yourself. This can show up in many ways, both in word and in action.
Verbally, permission can be expressed as, “I give myself permission to not like this thing.” or “I give myself permission to say no whenever I want” or “I give myself permission to feel this anger and hear it’s message”, or “I give myself permission to take up space in the world”.
Practicing this starts you on the path of trusting and eventually embodying your inner Advocate as your default state of being.
To go deeper on this, the Essential Codependency Healing Trainings is your next step. Learn more about them here: The Trainings
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