5 Ways to Build Self-Esteem and Change Your Life

Our thoughts are powerful – for better or worse. Thoughts can set off chain reactions that build self-esteem or undermine it. Authority over our mind is the ultimate power. “Mind is everything. What you think you become,” said Buddha. Thoughts affect not only our mental health, relationships, and the ability to achieve our goals, but also our physical health – our digestion, circulation, respiration, immunity, and nervous system.

Read more here:

https://www.whatiscodependency.com/build-self-esteem-mindfulness-meditation/

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You

Ebooks:

10 Steps to Self-Esteem

Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and webinar How to Be Assertive

Breakup Recovery

Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps

Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness

Codependency’s Recovery Daily Reflections

Follow me on Facebook

www.whatiscodependency.com

310.458.0016

Copyright @ 2013 Darlene Lancer – All Rights Reserved

 



Authenticity Heals: 6 Steps To Being Authentic

By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Authenticity is the opposite of shame. It reveals our humanity and allows us to connect with others. Shame creates most all codependency symptoms – including hiding who we are, sacrificing our needs, and saying yes when we rather not – all to be accepted by someone else. It warps our communication and damages our relationships so that we control, patronize, criticize, blame, deny, withdraw, attack, and make empty promises to keep a relationship and reassure ourselves we’re okay even when we don’t believe it.

Hiding Who You Are

For most of us, our self-doubt and hiding has been going on so long that by adulthood, we’ve lost touch with who we truly are. We’ve grown accustomed to behaving in certain predictable roles that worked in our more or less troubled families, in school, and in our work. In the process, we sacrifice a degree of freedom, spontaneity, vulnerability, and parts of ourselves. When we marry, for most of us, our personality contracts further into the role of husband or wife, father or mother, and what is acceptable to maintain the marriage.

Even if things look okay on the outside, if we’re fortunate enough not to be in an abusive relationship or one burdened by addiction or dishonesty, we may feel a malaise, an uneasy dissatisfaction and not know why. If we once shared vibrant love with our spouse or used to have a joie de vivre and hope for the future, we might feel trapped and wonder where our passion and enthusiasm for life went. What happened was, we started shrinking and stopped risking being ourselves.

Falling In Love

Sometimes, when people fall in love, they open up. Loving and feeling accepted in the eyes of our beloved catapults us out of our ordinary personality. We feel expansive and come alive. We rediscover our true self through the process of being vulnerable and revealing parts of ourselves that we don’t usually experience. Doing so is why romance makes us feel so alive.

Before too long, we discover things we dislike in our partner. Our feelings get deeply hurt, our needs conflict, we disagree and disapprove. In an attempt to make love last, we start keeping things to ourselves, withdraw, manipulate with words and deeds, or even try to change our partner into the person we imagined he or she was.  As things pile up, the risk of being vulnerable and honest with each other looms larger. Even if words of love are spoken, passion and intimacy have vanished. Couples yearn for connection, but feel empty and lonely without intimacy, due to their fear of rejection and loss. We endure, or if the relationship ends, we hurt. Breakups can activate shame, chip away at our self-esteem, and raise our defenses, making being vulnerable again all the more risky.

Authenticity Requires Courage

Authenticity and intimacy require courage. Each move we make toward authenticity risks exposure, criticism, and rejection, but facing those risks also affirms our real self. There’s no question that rejection and loss hurt, but paradoxically, risking vulnerability makes us safer, and our defenses weakens us. Healing our shame, building self esteem, autonomy, and our ability to be assertive and set boundaries can make us feel more secure. When we’re authentic, it invites our partner to do the same. It keeps love alive, and we’re more likely to get our emotional needs met. We not only feel stronger when we’re honest, it begins to heal our shame. It also avoids the myriad of defenses and the misunderstandings and conflicts that they create. (See Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You.)

How to Be Authentic

Sharing our vulnerability with others requires courage twice. First we must be honest with ourselves and be able to feel our emotions and identify our needs. Some of us have become numb to our feelings and are clueless about our needs if they were shamed childhood. When one feeling is unacceptable, they all more or less shrivel. As a consequence, we start to shut down our aliveness. When we don’t acknowledge our needs, they won’t get met.

Identify Your Feelings and Needs.

The first step is being able to name what we feel and need in order to communicate effectively. People often say that something made them “upset.” I have no idea whether they were angry, worried, or hurt. Emotions can be confusing. For example, often hurt masquerades as anger, resentment camouflages guilt, rage conceals shame, and sadness covers anger.

A key symptom of codependency is denial, including denial of feelings and needs (especially emotional needs). Being authentic with our rage that’s really a defense for shame damages our relationships and pushes others way – usually the opposite of what we really want. Similarly, if, like many codependents, we believe we should be self-sufficient, we might not honor and ask for our needs for closeness or support. As a result, we end up feeling lonely and resentful. Journaling is a great way to decipher our true feelings.

There are over 70 needs and 200 emotions listed in Codependency for Dummies. Developing an emotional vocabulary helps us be understood, be better communicators, and get what we want and need. (See How to Be Assertive.)

Honor Your Feelings and Needs

We must be able not only to acknowledge, but also honor our feelings and needs if we’re going to risk exposing them to others. Growing up in a dysfunctional family, many codependents have internalized shame, and judge their feelings and needs, like pride or anger and affection or intimacy. We’re also unaware of the shame that conceals and derides them. Working with a skilled therapist will help you be able to feel again and accept your needs without self-judgment. (See 10 Steps to Self-Esteem – The Ultimate Guide to Stop Self-Criticism.)

Improve Your self-Esteem and Boundaries

It takes courage again to take the ultimate risk of sharing what we feel and need. Without self-esteem and boundaries, we take things personally and collapse into shame. Our prickly defenses immediately get triggered and destroy the emotional safety we’re trying to create. On the other hand, we derive courage from risk-taking. Taking the leap to be vulnerable builds self-esteem and empowers us. With greater self-esteem and connection to ourselves, our boundaries improve. Flexible boundaries also enable us to discern when, where, how, and with whom we’re vulnerable. We’re aware that we’re separate from others and are able to allow their reactions. (See How to Raise Your Self-Esteem)

Learn to Be Assertive

There are constructive and destructive ways to communicate our vulnerability. Most of us lack those role models from our families where communication is learned. Developing assertiveness skills not only builds self-esteem, but enables us to communicate in effective ways that promote connection. This is especially important when we want to share “negative” feelings about things we dislike or don’t want. Additionally, when we’re able to set limits and say “No,” we’re more generous when they say it to us. (See How to Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits.)

Nurture Yourself

We can’t control other people’s reaction, so we also must know that we can nurture and sustain ourselves. This increases our autonomy. Most codependents don’t have good parental models of nurturing. Having supportive relationships and the ability to comfort ourselves make us less codependent on others. (See “10 Tips for Self-Love and Compassion.”) It’s also part of healing shame and building self-esteem. Taking reasonable risks builds self-esteem and autonomy, too.

Get Support

Working with an experienced psychotherapist is generally necessary to undo our old negative programming and support us in trying new behavior. Attending Twelve-Step meetings helps. Once we start living authentically, whether or not we’re in a relationship, we regain our zest and joy of living. The words of a recent client sum up his experience:

[Therapy] helped me get to the root of the problem, toxic shame, and how to extricate it and replace it with authentic love towards myself. I developed a new-found sense of independence and confidence. I began to approach life with boldness, to freely express my feelings without judgment. Because of this, all the things I wanted but did not know how to get started to be apparent in my life as a natural consequence of being authentic and loving myself.  Thank you for helping me get this new beginning in life.

©Darlene Lancer 2017 – All Rights Reserved

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You

Ebooks:

10 Steps to Self-Esteem

Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and webinar How to Be Assertive

Breakup Recovery

Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps

Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness

Codependency’s Recovery Daily Reflections

Follow me on Facebook

www.whatiscodependency.com

310.458.0016

 

 



Marriage after Sobriety

By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

When long-awaited sobriety finally arrives, partners expect their past relationship problems will disappear. Often, there is a “honeymoon” period when they’re on their best behavior and reaffirm their love and commitment. After all that they’ve been through together, they have high hopes for a rosy future and easier times ahead. Yet, sobriety destabilizes the status quo, and the longer partners are together, the more their patterns become entrenched. It’s an unsettling time. Both partners feel vulnerable. In new sobriety, couples don’t really know how to talk to one another. It’s a rocky transition in the marriage or relationship that presents many challenges.

Read More here: https://www.whatiscodependency.com/marriage-addiction-substance-abuse-sobriety/

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You

Ebooks:

10 Steps to Self-Esteem

Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and webinar How to Be Assertive

Breakup Recovery

Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps

Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness

Codependency’s Recovery Daily Reflections

Follow me on Facebook

www.whatiscodependency.com

310.458.0016

Copyright @ 2013 Darlene Lancer – All Rights Reserved



Getting Triggered and What You Can Do

By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Getting your “buttons” pushed or getting “triggered” is an opportunity to heal and grow. The more hurts we’ve endured and the weaker our boundaries, the more reactive we are to people and events. Our triggers – our buttons – are our wounds. Codependents are off the charts when it comes to reacting to others’ feelings, needs, problems, opinions, wants, and more. When we react, we permit our insides to be taken over by someone or something outside of us. There’s no filter or boundary. We’re pulled off center and might start thinking about that person or about what might happen in the future. Negative reactions easily escalate hurt feelings and conflict. Often, however, we’re really reacting to someone from our past.


Read more here: https://www.whatiscodependency.com/getting-triggered-overreacting/

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You

Ebooks: 10 Steps to Self-Esteem

Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and webinar How to Be Assertive

Breakup Recovery,  Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps,  Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-ForgivenessCodependency’s Recovery Daily Reflections

Follow me on Facebook

www.whatiscodependency.com

310.458.0016

Copyright @ 2013 Darlene Lancer – All Rights Reserved



Relationship Killers: Anger and Resentment

By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Anger hurts. It’s a reaction to not getting what we want or need. Anger escalates to rage when we feel assaulted or threatened. It could be physical, emotional, or abstract, such as an attack on our reputation. When we react disproportionately to our present circumstance, it’s because we’re really reacting to something in our past event – often from childhood. Read more here:

https://www.whatiscodependency.com/anger-management-resentment-codependency

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You

Ebooks:

10 Steps to Self-Esteem

Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and webinar How to Be Assertive

Breakup Recovery

Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps

Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness

Codependency’s Recovery Daily Reflections

How to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Follow me on Facebook

www.whatiscodependency.com

310.458.0016

 



Secrets and Lies: The Damage of Deception

By Darlene Lancer, LMFT

We all tell “white lies.” We say “I’m fine,” when we’re not, compliment unwanted gifts, or even fib, “The check is in the mail.” But in an intimate relationship, emotional honesty includes allowing our partner to know who we are. Honesty is more than simply not lying. Deception includes making ambiguous or vague statements, telling half-truths, manipulating information through emphasis, exaggeration, or minimization, and withholding information or feelings that are important to someone who has a “right to know” because it affects the relationship and that person’s free choice. Although we may consider ourselves honest, few of us reveal all our negative thoughts and feelings about people we are close to. It requires the courage to be vulnerable and authentic.

Read more here:

https://www.whatiscodependency.com/secrets-betrayal-lies-deception-infidelity/

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You

Ebooks:

10 Steps to Self-Esteem

Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and webinar How to Be Assertive

Breakup Recovery

Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps

Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness

Codependency’s Recovery Daily Reflections

Follow me on Facebook

www.whatiscodependency.com

310.458.0016

Copyright @ 2013 Darlene Lancer – All Rights Reserved



9 Tips for Coping with Holiday Blues and Stress

By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

The stress of the holidays triggers sadness and depression for many people. This time of year is especially difficult because there’s an expectation of feeling merry and generous. People compare their emotions to what they assume others are experiencing or what they’re supposed to feel and then think that they alone fall short. They judge themselves and feel like an outsider. There are a host of things that add to stress and difficult emotions during the holidays.

Read more here:

https://www.whatiscodependency.com/holiday-stress-and-depression/

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT 

Author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You

Ebooks:

10 Steps to Self-Esteem

Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and webinar How to Be Assertive

Breakup Recovery

Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps

Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness

Codependency’s Recovery Daily Reflections

Follow me on Facebook

www.whatiscodependency.com

310.458.0016 

Copyright @ 2013 Darlene Lancer – All Rights Reserved



10 Habits That Lower Self-Esteem And Cause Depression

By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

When our self-esteem is low, which is typical of codependency, we’re at greater risk for depression. Codependency is learned, and so are self-esteem and the beliefs and habits that cause both low self-esteem and codependency. Self-esteem is what we think about ourselves. It includes positive and negative self-evaluations. Good self-esteem is a realistic, positive self-concept. It reflects self-respect and implies a feeling of worth that’s not determined by comparison to, or approval from, others. Self-acceptance(which some writers include as part of self-esteem) is even deeper. It’s a feeling of being good enough, neither perfect, nor inadequate. We feel we have worth and are lovable, not merely because of beauty, talent, achievement, intelligence, status, or popularity. It’s a sense of inner contentment. Read more here:

https://www.whatiscodependency.com/10-habits-low-self-esteem-cause-depression/

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You

Ebooks:

10 Steps to Self-Esteem

Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and webinar How to Be Assertive

Breakup Recovery

Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps

Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness

Codependency’s Recovery Daily Reflections

Follow me on Facebook

www.whatiscodependency.com

310.458.0016

Copyright @ 2013 Darlene Lancer – All Rights Reserved

 



Steps To Be Empowered And Not a Victim

In recovery circles, being a “victim” is frowned upon. Decades ago, when I heard people say they were no longer a victim, I had no idea what they meant. Actually, a victim is an individual who has been fooled, hurt, or harmed, due to his or her own emotions or ignorance, an unfortunate event, or the actions of someone who deceived, cheated, injured, or killed him or her.

Read more here:

https://www.whatiscodependency.com/empowerment-not-be-victim/

By Darlene Lancer , JD, MFT

https://www.whatiscodependency.com/

Copyright @2016 Darlene Lancer – All Rights Reserved



How Divorce Impacts Your Taxes

When it comes to divorce, there’s a host of legalities to worry about, but one facet that doesn’t always immediately come to mind is the effect filing for divorce can have on your taxes. From exemption options to switching your filing status, there’s plenty to prepare for when you’re prepping taxes during a divorce. Keep these aspects in mind and help yourself alleviate the extra stress.

So You’ve Never Prepared Your Taxes

Perhaps your former spouse was always the preparer of your taxes, leaving you grasping at straws about how to approach the filing process on your own. This is common, but need not be a cause for concern. It’s a good idea to use professional help at least the first time through, as missing certain exemptions and dealing with the complications of divorce can cause errors in filing that can cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars. Use a company like Community Tax to file the first time around; a certified tax professional can walk you through the process and the small fee you pay for help is more than worth the peace of mind, especially when going through the tumultuous time of divorce proceedings.

The Issue of Filing Status

Couples that have not yet divorced at the end of the year can still file a joint return if they wish to, but the alternative is filing as married filing separately. If you’ve already gotten your divorce by the end of the year, you can’t file jointly. You may choose to file as the head of the household, which generally comes along with larger standard deductions and an easier tax bracket. You may only file for this status if you took care of a dependent, whether it be a child or elderly parent, for more than half of the year, and you paid for a majority of the upkeep and maintenance of your home.

If You Sell Your Home

After a divorce, many couples end up selling a home in favor of a fresh start. If you and your spouse plan on selling your home or you already have, you’ll need to understand the tax implications that come along with this income. If you owned the home and lived there for at least two years out of the previous five, you can avoid taxes on the first $250,000 gained from the sale if filing single; $500,000 if filing jointly.

Filing an Exemption for a Dependent

When it comes to claiming your child as a dependent, you can only continue to do so after your divorce filings are complete if he or she has lived with you for a longer amount of time throughout the year than with your former spouse. This gives you the distinction of custodial parent. However, if you are not the custodial parent, you can still claim the exemption providing your ex-spouse signs a written waiver pledging to leave it unclaimed for you.

When it Comes to Alimony

If you’re paying alimony to your spouse, you’ll have the opportunity to take a tax deduction for these payments, even if you don’t take the time to itemize your deductions. To qualify for a deduction, your alimony payments must be in cash and must be written out in your divorce agreement. If you’re the spouse receiving alimony payments, know that you’ll be required to pay income taxes on the payments you are receiving. You’ll both want to know each other’s SSNs to be able to file without running into issues.

The Retirement Issues

If you’re cashing out a 401(k) plan to provide money to your former spouse, this can be considered a taxable distribution. With this contribution, you’ll be required to pay a tax on the money. If you’d like to transfer this money without being subject to a steep tax, use a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QRDO). This means your former spouse has access to the funds and ensures you don’t take any of the taxes that would otherwise be owed on this money. Similar to alimony deductions, you’ll need proof of this QDRO spelled out in your divorce agreement.

Divorce is hard, but your finances after divorcing need not be more complicated with tax issues. Keep these tips in mind and use the help of a financial advisor to determine the tax implications of your divorce.