Melody Beattie, author of Codependent No More, How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring For Yourself, defines a “codependent” as:
one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior
She details specific examples from her personal experiences and those of others to connect with her readers and offers practical solutions to those whose lives are affected by a loved one’s negative, often destructive behaviors.
The dominant theme across Beattie’s solutions is a therapeutic tool called detachment, which she describes as a separation of ourselves from a person or a problem in a loving way. To disengage mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically from unhealthy people, from problems we cannot solve or ones that are not our responsibility to solve. She goes on to say:
Detachment is based on the premises that each person is responsible for himself, that we can’t solve problems that aren’t ours to solve and that worrying doesn’t help. We adopt a policy of keeping our hands off other people’s responsibilities and tend to our own instead. If people have created some disasters for themselves, we allow them to face their own proverbial music.
Sounds like a tall order for a world that has its nose in everyone else’s business or a country, whose attitude is often one of pass the buck, point the finger at the other guy, and cover up or, worse, buy a way out of facing the consequences of one’s own actions.
So, does this mean we are to stop caring, helping, and loving? Is this a barbaric, every-man-for-himself type of detachment? Beattie says not:
(Detaching) means we learn to love, care, and be involved without going crazy. We stop creating all this chaos in our minds and environments. When we are not anxiously and compulsively thrashing about, we become able to make good decisions about how to love people, and how to solve our problems. We become free to care and to love in ways that help others and don’t hurt ourselves.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
I thought so and my next thought was, “Where do I sign up?”
Or better yet, “Where do I get a prescription for this detachment stuff?”
If only it was that easy…
Have you read this book? If so, what did you think about it?