Codependent No More – Book Review

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?

 

How to Meditate – Book Review

         How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery by Lawrence LeShan is a best-selling classic with more than one million copies in print.  Although, LeShan wrote this book over thirty-five years ago (in 1974), the benefits of meditation are needed now more than ever in our fast-paced, multi-multi-multi-tasking, high stress, latte-consuming society. 

        There are many ways you can meditate.  LeShan divides these ways into four different “paths,” as he calls them, which can each help you to achieve the same goals – less anxiety, better health, and a greater joy in living to name a few.  The paths are as follows:

1.  intellect
2.  emotions
3.  body
4.  action

        How to Meditate is a “practical instruction for anyone seeking inner peace, relief from stress, and increased self-knowledge.” I became interested in meditation several years ago when stress and anxiety started to negatively affect many areas of my life, including my sleep, my relationships, and my work.       

        Now, I meditate almost everyday for periods of five to thirty minutes. Even that little bit makes a huge difference in my anxiety levels and ability to calmly handle life’s normal stressors and even some of the big ones. 

        Do you use meditation as a way to cope with anxiety and/or depression?  How does it work or not work for you?

        Do we do things we don’t want to in order to please others? When we say “no” do we often feel guilty? Martyrdom is for saints. We are not saints. We are also not bad. We are sick and we are trying to get well.

        Unless we are doing for others for “fun and for free” we are harming ourselves as well as lying to ourselves and others about our motives for helping them.

        Today, I will give freely that which I can afford to give. I will not risk my physical, emotional, or mental health by saying yes when I want to say no or by feeling guilty for making my health my top priority.

Mental illness often runs in families.  Our parent or grandparent or other relative may have had or does have a mental illness.  Some of our family members may have been diagnosed and may be getting the treatment they need to recover while others may not.

When dealing with our family, whether they have a mental illness or not, they may hinder more than help our progress because of our deep emotional ties to them and theirs to us.  While they may love us, they may not know how or be unable to help us.

         Today, I will evaluate my support system.  I will call someone who is outside of my family; someone who can offer objective, unconditional support to me and I will know peace.

I cry out for order and find it only in art. ~ Helen Hayes

                The correlation between creative and passionately driven individuals and mental illness appears to be high.  We are in impressive company:

Isaac Newton, most famous mathematician of the 17th Century, is suspected to have had Bipolar Disorder which was an unknown illness during his lifetime.

Ludwig van Beethoven, composer, had bipolar disorder.

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of U.S., suffered from major depression.

Vincent Van Gogh, famous painter and artist, is thought to have experienced bipolar symptoms.

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain, (who, along with Roosevelt and Stalin, led the world to the defeat of Hitler in WWII) had major depression.

Virginia Woolf, the British novelist, experienced the mood swings of bipolar disorder her entire life. “She wrote to make sense out of her mental chaos and gain control of madness; and was greatly admired for her creative insight into human nature.”

The list goes on and on:

Leo Tolstoy, author

Charles Dickens, English author

John Keats, poet

Michelangelo, artist

Bette Midler, entertainer

Charles Schultz, cartoonist

Dick Clark, entertainer

Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky, composer

Charlie Pride, singer

Sylvia Plath, poet and novelist

Janet Jackson, singer

Patty Duke, actress

Roseanne Barr, comedian

Marlon Brando, actor

Ernest Hemingway, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist

Tennessee Williams, American playwright

Today, I will write down two aspects of my life that have been positively affected by my mental illness; perhaps, someone I have met that I otherwise wouldn’t have or a creative talent I possess.  I will acknowledge the silver lining in the cloud of my mental illness and know that I am not unique in its negative or positive aspects.