Here is my third blog in this series supporting the work laid out by Dan Griffin and Rick Dauer in their article Rethinking Men and Codependency in the Addiction Professional. In that article, they name nine relational skills they believe are essential to healthy codependency recovery for men including conflict resolution, emotional expression, healthy boundaries, and self-care. As in my past blogs, my comments which follow are offered for both men and women.
I agree with all of their nine identified relational skills. And I believe there are many skills within those skills that have to be learned. In my book, Disentangle: When You’ve Lost Your Self in Someone Else I present more than 50 of those skills divided into four areas of work for our Self: Facing Illusions, Detaching, Setting Healthy Boundaries, and Developing Spirituality.
For example, learning how to detach and gain some emotional distance involves learning that I am a separate individual from the other person and to differentiate what is theirs and what is mine, learning to observe my self and the other so as to act not react, and paying attention to my motivations as I interact.
Learning to set healthy boundaries involves learning how to quiet our self, how to listen to our self, how to know what is true for our self in a given situation, being able to assert our boundary, being able to stick with our boundary, and learning how to manage our self as we feel the various feelings that come from stating and standing firm with our boundary.
The skills are numerous and important. Why don’t we already know these things? Well, it is likely that the roles we have taken on over our lifetime and the related socialization influences discussed previously have limited the skills we needed. We have operated in our prescriptive ways over and over. The good news is that you are reading this and are interested in change. New relational skills will definitely help with those changes.