Women are reclaiming their identity, direction, and empowerment within the counseling process. They are reading self-help books and magazines, listening to personal growth tapes, watching informational talk shows on television, attending lectures, workshops, retreats, and returning to school. Women are searching, questioning, and finding their lost selves through many avenues.
Although this type of 'self-help' information can be readily gleaned, there must be a head-heart, or intellect-feeling connection before one's situation can change. All knowledge learned must be internalized (believed), and processed (discussed, analyzed, emotions explored). Insights must be gained and goals set and attained, in order to resolve unfinished business, heal wounds, and grow.
Even though women are gaining more value in society today through our changing socialization process, we are still receiving ambiguous messages or values which we internalize and accept or struggle with. For example, we are told (through advertising, fashion and diet industries, etc.) that an anorexic model is to be held in high regard, and, in the next breath, that this type of behavior is wrong, bad, sick, controlling, and life-threatening.
The term co-dependency, as applied to women, takes our strengths of caring, compassion, loving, nurturing, loyalty, forgiveness, gentleness, trust, and protecting of loved ones, and turns them into opportunities for exploitation and shame.
Co-dependent thoughts and behaviors will be experienced when we are unaware of the skills or denied the context in which to appropriately direct our female strengths and balance others' needs with our own. This directly relates to our self-esteem, self-concept, confidence, trust, and risk-taking.
Since life management skills were not taught to us in our early development, many of us unknowingly created dysfunction and dependency in our lives. We became other-oriented, and neglected or ignored our own needs, feelings, and lives. We allowed ourselves to be diminished by others and believed their words. They became imprinted in our subconscious mind and now can greatly affect our life choices, including our relationships.
We may feel limited to only one or two choices, greatly diminishing the sense of power and control in our lives. Depression and suicidal thoughts are a silencing of our voices, a diminishing of our self.
Counseling can offer a safe, supportive place to explore life experiences, belief systems, behaviors, and relationship ills, while at the same time gaining insights, knowledge, and skills to create a more positive life. It is a valuable tool to use during our exploration of who, what, where we are, and why.
The best therapist provides a safe environment to explore your issues, keeps what you say confidential, has good listening skills and a nonjudgmental attitude, knows how to focus on your needs and not their own, does not foster dependency, and values you as a unique individual.
The time is now for you to empower yourself to create healthy, joyous options in life and love. The greatest challenge we all face is to understand ourselves. Explore and open to a whole new you!!
Choose to Live Peacefully
by Susan Smith Jones.
Dena J. Bower, LCSW, CAP, CHt. is a Clinical Social Worker, Certified Addiction Professional, Heart-Centered Hypnotherapist, and Conscious Living Coach in private practice in Hollywood, FL. She specializes in treating trauma from abuse/disasters/violent crime, and Inner Child healing. Dena counsels and coaches individuals, couples, & families with focus on developing strategies for improving life skills and living more consciously. For information about private sessions, workshops, teleclasses, audio tapes, and free newsletter, please call (954) 920-5020. Visit her website at http://www.bti-training.com