Exposing The Codependency Mind Trick - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content

Exposing The Codependency Mind Trick


To be honest with you, the word codependency was a horrible choice. After all, it is a learned relational style that has nothing to do with being “dependent”. I could write an entire book on this relational style and what conditions give rise to it and what behaviors come along with it. One thing you need to know though is that this relational style is an adaptation that a person makes to an unhealthy social environment at an early age. People adapt this relational style and carry it through the rest of their relationships in life. If you would like to learn more about this, you can watch my videos titled: The Truth about Narcissism and Codependency, as well as: Codependency has Nothing To Do with Dependency.

What is important to understand for the sake of the information that I am about to share with you in this video however, is that people who develop the relationship adaptation style of codependency decide at a subconscious level that because no one is really concerned for their welfare, benefit and best interests, the best way to survive is to get their own needs met by sacrificing parts of themselves so as to conform to other people’s interests and creating an attuned emotional contract with them, whereby their own needs are manipulatively met in exchange for doing so. It is also important to know that you will hear pretty much everywhere that codependents place a lower priority on their own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. This is not true. It only looks like that on the outside. The reality is that if we have adopted the relational style of codependency, the preoccupation with the needs of others is our method for getting our own needs met.

In any relationship, confluence is the feeling of “we”. It is the feeling of togetherness, agreement, unison, ease, harmony and alliance. The best way to conceptualize of confluence is to think of two rivers flowing together to become more. Confluence is the opposite of being against each other. It is the opposite of conflict. Confluence is something that feels good to people in general and it is something that we all seek in relationships. But not at any cost. If we are someone who has adopted the codependent relational style, what sets us apart is that we have learned to establish confluence at any cost. We go to lengths to establish confluence that are detrimental to ourself and to anyone we are in a relationship with. For example, we usually grew up in households where difference meant conflict. Therefore, for the sake of creating confluence, we abandoned our authenticity and made ourself the “same” as others or made ourselves into whatever they wanted us to be. Or for example, for the sake of confluence, we also learned to enable dysfunctional behavior in others. And we are perfectly willing to fake confluence. The reason being that we have learned that anything but confluence is dangerous. We normalized going to great and horribly self-abusive lengths to distort ourselves so as to feign confluence, even to the degree that we fooled ourselves. For those of us with a codependent relational style, establishing confluence in any relationship is a subconscious desperate attempt to avoid danger and ensure that our needs will be met. We don’t just like confluence… We hold onto it like a buoy that our life depends on in the middle of a deep ocean squall.

It is important to understand this attachment that people with a codependent relational style have to confluence. Because it is this attachment that creates a mind trick that keeps you stuck in a state of inauthenticity, thinking that it is authentic. Here is the trick... If you have adopted the relational style of codependency, you care so much (often on a subconscious level) about confluence, that it registers in your system as your top value and therefore your top priority. This means that letting go of any other personal truth you might have so as to establish confluence with someone will actually feel like relief. It will feel good and right and authentic because in doing so, you are in-alignment with your top subconscious value.

So that you can understand this mind trick, here is an example: Tom is married to Sandy. Tom has adopted a relational style of codependency. The truth is that Tom loves adventure. He also loves taking risks because it makes him feel alive. But Sandy is someone who likes predictability and routine. She enjoys staying at home in her garden and with her cats. She gets upset any time that Tom changes the routine or suggests they take a trip. Sandy is not a master of relationships to be sure. But interestingly enough, she does not have a narcissistic relational style. Still, Tom does not know how to deal with incompatibility in a relationship and whenever Sandy gets upset, the feeling of not being aligned with her is viscerally terrorizing. His desperate attachment to confluence is triggered. And so, Tom goes to work denying the truth that he loves adventure and trying to getting rid of his tendency towards risk taking. He does this in many ways. First, he denies, suppresses and disowns the personal truth that is a threat to his sense of confluence with Sandy. He decides that being a risk taker is not a truth about himself, instead it is an unhealthy addiction that he is meant to cure himself of. To validate this, he reads books on the addiction to risk taking and watches movies about bad things that happen to risk takers to discourage himself from taking risks. He also attends Buddhist seminars about being in the present moment and about the beauty of the mundane. He decides that even exploring his own neighborhood can be an adventure if he decides to make it one. He forces himself to stick to the routine and engage in the many home-body activities that Sandy is engaged in such as reading, cooking, gardening, watching TV and taking neighborhood walks. At first, doing this feels so good and so right. He will believe because of this that he is being authentic. After all, he is in alignment with his first subconscious priority… confluence. The problem is, he had to suppress other parts of his authenticity in order to be aligned with his authentic top priority, which is confluence.

Tom is not satisfied in his life because he is denying the truth about himself to be in alignment with the truth that he wants confluence in his marriage. Again and again, these feelings of dissatisfaction will creep to the surface and when it does, he becomes compelled to break the routine or go for an adventure or act out in some way. But when that happens, it threatens his sense of confluence. So, he quickly suppresses them again. And when he does, again he feels relief. Again, he feels like he is back on track and doing what is right and true for himself, simply because he has attained confluence. Tom will confidently look at you straight in the face and say, “We love being at home. We’re just two homebodies. Honestly, I think that people now a days are just addicted to intensity and are never satisfied. They have forgotten the beauty of simplicity.”

 The mind trick is that your attachment to confluence acts like a smokescreen for your personal truths in that you do authentically want confluence. So, anything you might do to attain it, including being dishonest and inauthentic may feel like you are being honest and authentic to you.

If you are someone who struggles with this mind trick, here are some suggestions:

  1. Recognize when a personal truth would stand to grant you confluence with someone and therefore you could be at risk of being in this pattern. And if a truth would stand to grant you confluence, that truth needs to be treated with suspicion. You need to really question whether that truth is in fact your truth, rather than trying to prove it is your truth. On top of this, you need to seriously question your relationship with compromise… to giving up things or changing things about yourself in order to be in confluence in a relationship. For this reason, you would benefit by watching two of my videos. The first titled: Why You Should Never Make Compromises in a Relationship. And the second titled: Do You Base Your Relationships on Compromise or Compatibility?
  2. Familiarize yourself with and memorize the difference in sensations between something being real or true vs. something downregulating your nervous system because it gives you relief from danger. One exercise you can try is to close your eyes and imagine a situation where you feel like you are in trouble with someone else. Now, imagine that you are able to get out of trouble and please them so the other person is happy with you. There is a relief that feels right and good in the body. Feel that in every cell of your being. What does this feel like?  Now change exercises. Think about a truth that you can’t take away. Something you believe in to your absolute core. Or something that can’t be denied, like that you were born in the city that you were born in. There will be a kind of solid, unshakable sensation near your core. Feel that in every cell of your being. What does it feel like? Notice that these two sensations both feel “right” but they are very different feeling flavors.
  3. Realize that if you fall into this mind trick, you struggle with denial as a coping mechanism. For this reason, you would benefit by learning about denial. To do this, watch my video titled: How to Call Bullshit on Denial. In alignment with this, chances are very high that you are not being honest with yourself. It’s hard to be in confluence and know that you are lying to yourself. So, you are most likely in the pattern of fooling yourself. To do this, you are in the pattern of suppressing, denying, disowning and reframing your own emotions. Telling yourself stories about them so as to obscure the truth they contain. Each emotion is a carrier of personal truth and information. It is critical to notice your emotion and listen to the personal truth carried by your emotions. Not tell yourself a confluence supporting story about them. When something feels “off” in your life, but you don’t know what, chances are high that you are not being honest with yourself because your truth threatens your sense of confluence with someone in your life. If you find yourself in a pattern of self-sabotage or of breaking your word, it means you are not being honest with yourself. If you complain but you don’t take action, it means you are not being honest with yourself. And to be honest with yourself, you are going to have to be willing to risk losing confluence.
  4. If you are in this pattern of confluence attachment, in your relationships, what you try to suppress will keep coming up again and again. It is not hard to live in alignment with something that is genuinely true for you. If it is not true for you, it will be hard to live in alignment with it. It will feel like you are having to be very disciplined to do something despite some part of yourself that you disapprove of. This is an indication that you are suppressing and denying and disowning a personal truth. For example, imagine that man is looking for a relationship where he doesn’t have responsibility and instead is taken care of. But he got into a relationship with a woman who has no interest in doing that. He will have to actively work against this truth. And he will notice that because it is second nature to live according to your truth, he will “slip” into behaviors where he doesn’t take responsibility or where others are forced to take care of him. Probably slips that lead to repeated conflict. Essentially, the real truth keeps rearing its head.
  5. Commit to the mastery of relationships. The reality is, if you have a codependent relational style, you are afraid of people and relationships induce fear. You don’t know how to have yourself and have other people too at the same time. You have only known zero sum games and manipulation in relationships. You look to placate people before there is even ever a conflict. You don’t understand how to create genuine repair without compromising your personal truth. And you don’t know how to find a third option. This means, you must un-learn and also learn how to have a relationship.

It is important to know that someone who is codependent enough, does not have to be in a relationship with someone with a narcissistic relational style in order to fall into this trap or behave in codependent ways. A not so funny joke is that all it takes to be considered a narcissist in a relationship with a good enough codependent is to have an opinion or a preference. All that being in a relationship with someone with a narcissistic relational style does, is make these patterns harder to break free from because it reinforces these behaviors. After all, there is even more incentive to create confluence in a relationship when the person you are with is genuinely willing to destroy you for the sake of their own best interests.

When something is real, it is very stable and solid, even if you don’t feel “good” about it.  When something is simply confluence, there is no stability or solidity to it. You are looking for something to feel good, even if there is no stability or solidness to it. Underneath what you are saying and doing, it will feel like: “Like me, like me, like me”. You will be looking for one thing: for your nervous system to relax, making it a strategy.

This strategy of creating the false experience of confluence in a relationship in order to try to establish and maintain connection does not actually work. It gets you in the moment relief yes. But it does not allow you to build a relationship based on what is true. So, there is no actual relationship. If this is your pattern, you will be prone to duping people. Because of your relationship to confluence, you will seek to establish confluence from the very beginning by lying to the other person about yourself, often subconsciously. They will feel like they have found THE most compatible partner, only to realize that there is something different hiding underneath the initial person you presented to them. How do you have a relationship with a person that changes who they are in order to be whatever they sense that you want them to be? How can you feel solid with that? If you can’t pin someone down to anything, you are building a relationship with a shapeshifter. Anything that you think is compatible one minute, won’t be the next. As a result, you can’t find actual compatibility and you can’t create actual security in a relationship, only temporary – in the moment relief. It is a recipe for building a life that is counter to who you actually are and counter to what you actually want… A life and a relationship of pain. 

You cannot suppress, deny and disown personal truths, even in favor of the personal truth that confluence is your top priority. They end up coming out in subconscious ways. Therefore, this safety strategy is a guarantee that your relationships will in fact become unsafe, painful and will most likely end. It is also an exhausting exercise in self-hate.







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