Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘guilt feelings’

Your Family Voyage: Codependency – Characteristics

SOURCE: Adapted from Your Family Voyage by P. Roger Hillerstrom

Codependency is sometimes defined as a tendency to have compulsively unhealthy relationships. Originally the term was used to describe the condition of spouses of alcoholics. These people had developed a living pattern that was not only unhealthy for themselves but actually promoted the alcoholism. They were obsessed with “fixing” their partners; without someone to rescue, they had no direction or purpose in life. Being emotionally dependent on their chemically dependent partners they were “codependent.”

Today we have a much broader understanding of this condition. The term codependent is used to describe an individual who is so preoccupied with others that his or her own life suffers or becomes unmanageable. Codependency is a futile attempt to deal with internals – fear, hurt, anger, insecurity – by trying to control externals – people, events, objects.

Compulsion is an old, familiar term rooted in the verb compel. A compulsion is a behavior we feel compelled to perform, repeated behavior patterns that are extremely resistant to change even though they cause numerous personal difficulties. Symptoms of an internal, emotional struggle, compulsions may take a variety of forms: gambling, criticizing, excessive shopping, nail biting, arguing, excessive hand washing, and lying are some examples.

Characteristics of Codependency. Having these problems does not mean we’re bad, defective or inferior. Some of us learned these behaviors as children. Other people learned them later in life. We may have learned some of these things from our interpretations of religion. Some women were taught these behaviors were desirable feminine attributes. Most of us started doing these things out of necessity to protect ourselves and meet our needs. We performed, felt, and thought these things to survive – emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically. We tried to understand and cope with our complex worlds in the best ways. We have done the best we could.

However, these self-protective devices may have outgrown their usefulness. Sometimes the things we do to protect ourselves turn on us and hurt us. They become self-destructive. Many codependents are barely surviving, and most aren’t getting their needs met. These characteristics are typical of codependency:

1. Discontentedness. The codependent lives with the sense that something is missing in his or her life. This chronic discontentment is the driving force behind much of his or her behavior.

2. Blame. The codependent consistently looks to others as a source for his or her own happiness. The resulting unmet expectations amplify discontentment. The codependent often feels like a victim and blames others for his or her circumstances.

3. Guilt. The codependent is inwardly self-critical and frequently feels guilty. Never feeling quite “good enough”, he or she minimizes or rejects compliments or praise. Nevertheless he or she has a low tolerance for criticism and is defensive when corrected. The codependent attempts to bolster his or her low self-concept by helping others.

4. Over-responsibility. The codependent takes unreasonable responsibility for others and feels compelled to solve other people’s problems. He or she is attracted to needy people and often feels empty without a problem to solve or someone to rescue.

5. Control. The codependent is consistently worried about and preoccupied with situations beyond his or her control. Control is a major motivation in the codependent’s life, and he or she attempts to control others through manipulation, blame, guilt, helplessness, threats, coercion, or directives. The codependent feels frustrated and angry when his or her attempts to control fail, and he or she in turns feels controlled by others.

6. Approval. The approval of others is very important to the codependent. He or she has a deep fear of rejection and abandonment and as a result says yes when meaning no, over commits and neglects his or her own needs. The codependent may compromise his or her values and preferences to avoid disapproval.

7. Extremes. The codependent’s lifestyle and relationships are a series of extremes, frequently involving other compulsions. He or she vacillates between love and hate, hoarding and spending, hot and cold, up and down. He or she may lack a sense of healthy balance in one or more life areas.

 

Guilt AND Guilt Feelings

SOURCE:  R. C. Sproul

In what way does God use guilt today?

When we talk about God’s using guilt, it sounds strange to many people in our society because there’s a widespread notion that guilt is something that is intrinsically destructive to human beings and that to impose guilt on anybody is wrong. The idea then emerges that God certainly would never use such a thing as guilt to bring about his will with human beings. If he did, that would be beneath the level of purity we would prefer in our deity.

In biblical terms, guilt is something that is real and is objective, and I think it’s very important that we distinguish between guilt and guilt feelings.

Guilt feelings are emotions that I experience subjectively. Guilt is an objective state of affairs.

We see that in our law courts. When a person goes on trial for having broken the law, the question before the jury and before the judge is not, Does the accused feel guilty? but, Is there a real state of affairs that we call guilt? Has a law been transgressed? So it is with God. Guilt is objective in the eyes of God whenever his law is broken. When I break his law, I incur guilt, but I may or may not have guilt feelings about my guilt.

I suspect that behind your question is a concern about how God uses the guilt feelings as well as the actual guilt itself.

One of the most important works of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is what the New Testament calls the conviction of sin. We can be guilty and not feel guilty. David, for example, when he got involved with Bathsheba and went even so far as arranging for her husband to get killed, felt no great remorse until Nathan, the prophet, came to him and told him a parable. The parable was about a man who took for himself a little lamb that belonged to a poor man. David was furious and wanted to know who this man was so that he could be punished. Finally Nathan pointed his finger at David and said, “You are the man.” With the realization of the full import of his guilt, David was broken instantly and then wrote that magnificent song of penitence, Psalm 51, in which he cried out in his conviction of sin before God.

What God does with our guilt and guilt feelings is to bring us to that state in which we are convicted of sin and of the righteousness we’ve fallen short of; he uses those feelings to turn us from disobedience to obedience. In that regard, guilt and guilt feelings are healthy. Just as pain is a necessary sign of the presence of disease, so guilt feelings may often be the divine way of awakening us to our need for redemption.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Tough Questions with RC Sproul is excerpted from Now, That’s a Good Question! Copyright © 1996 by R. C. Sproul.

Tag Cloud