Just wanted to share something I learned recently. For anyone that tuned into my Periscope last week, I conveyed the whole story of my “crappy day.” I won’t get into that again, only to say that I learned a huge lesson and it has to do with “The Four Agreements.”(Affiliated Link Below) If you haven’t heard of “The Four Agreements,” it is a book that boils down how to live and interpret the world by using four key phases. These phases help explain the actions of others and how you might feel in reaction to situations.
Over the past several years, I often wondered why I was place in the position I have been in. What was the lesson I was meant to learn from this? Now I see it. I needed desperately to learn the 2nd Agreement. For any of you who don’t know what “The Four Agreements” are look to the top graphic to summarize.
For most of my life I have grown up in a codependent household. This is how Wikipedia defines co-dependency.
“Codependent relationships are a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. Among the core characteristics of codependency, the most common theme is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and identity.”
Codependency goes much deeper then this however, and usually manifests because of some form of addiction. The addictive behavior creates a learned response that it passes from generation to generation until it is “un” taught essentially, thought therapy. An example of this being a woman seeking out the same abusive traits in men that were exhibited by her father. Only though unlearning this codependent behavior can these repetitive damaging actions be changed. These behaviors are usually learned from a codependent parental figure.
One of the traits of a codependent child is placing blame. They assume blame for the actions of others (the addict.) They assume something they did, said, was or is caused others to behave a certain way. For years, I have struggled with this. I have been to therapy and have worked it out in my rational mind. However, I have frequently felt powerless and victimized when others mistreated me. I always fall back on assuming blame for their actions.
I say to myself, “something I did caused this person not to like me.”or “Something I said caused them to behave in such a way.”
I am blessed to have a husband that helped me out of this blame cycle. However, in certain environments, like work for example, these behaviors persisted. Over the past several years, I often wondered why I was placed in the work situation I have been in. The situation that has elicited such a strong codependent response. Here is why.
I needed to learn not to take anything personally. For most of my life, I have been subject to the codependent lifestyle of blame and victimization. It is a lifestyle of narcissism and selfishness. I don’t mean this in an angry way, only that people in that environment learn this extreme narcissism from an addict. They learn that this type of behavior is acceptable, expected and don’t know that there is another way of life. Although, it effects their functioning in normal society, they think that everyone else is this way.
That is until they are shown otherwise. I have always assumed (Agreement #3) that something I did caused others to be the way they are. I must be the bad guy; I must be the wrong one. People can’t just act irrational, nasty or angry because of something unrelated to what I did. I must be the cause of it all. I essentially enabled their actions by assuming the responsibility for them. I viewed myself as the cause, so they were not responsible for their bad behavior. I was.
Here is where we get around to Agreement #4
[ctt tweet=”“Nothing others do is because of you. It is a projection of their own reality.”” coverup=”1y56I”]
Like I said, I have struggled in the work environment because I assumed the responsibility for the actions of others. I caused a bad manager to be a bad manager. I caused a lazy worker to be lazy. Last week, that all changed. Over my time in my current job I have wanted in my heart to be friends with my manager. To get to know her and it was killing me that she didn’t like me. That every interaction with her was nasty and angry. I was constantly on edge and felt an ongoing responsibility to correct our poor relationship.
The codependent in me assumed (Agreement #3 again) I had done something to make her so angry and nasty towards me. After one final interaction of nastiness my mindset changed. It was as if a veil lifted and Agreement #4 hit home.
I saw her for the person she was, not filtered thought my lens of blame. I finally recognized that on this day, my last day with her, she was still angry, nasty and bitter and for once it was not my fault. The paradigm shift in my head was incredible! I could see! Really see the sad, lonely, bitter old woman sitting in front of me glaring at me, trying to feel powerful. She was this way before me. She would remain this way after me. I was not the cause. It was not personal! It was just her view of her own reality.
Later on I discussed this with my friend Nicole, who lent me “The 4 Agreements” book in the first place. I wonder if my friend will ever know what a dramatic impact she has had on my life. On the drive home, I mulled the day over and realized why I was placed into this situation. I was meant to meet Nicole. She was put there to guide me in this Four Agreements lesson.
Here I had been blessed to learn about myself, overcome obstacles, misplaced anger and even betrayal. This was a trial meant to make me stronger. To know myself, to outgrow the codependent child and embrace a better me. I am not sad to end my time in my former position. I am eager to start something new and move away from the negative environment that has plagued me over the past 3 years. However, I realize I don’t regret having been there and am actually grateful for having been though it. Thank you for letting me share this lesson with you.