Category Archives: Inter-Dependency?

Family Intervention: Addiction and Life Controlling Issues

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An intervention is an orchestrated attempt by one, or often many, people (usually concerned family and friends) and an interventionists to get someone to seek professional help with an addiction or some other life controlling problem.

People sometimes engage in self-destructive behavior, rejecting any assistance others may offer. Intervention, when done correctly, is extremely effective in helping these people accept help.

Long used for substance abuse (alcohol abuse, drug abuse) and addiction (alcoholism, drug addiction), intervention is now also used for compulsive behaviors including gambling, sex addiction, computer addiction, and eating disorders.

The kindest and most loving thing family and friends can do.

Interventions have been used to address serious personal problems, including, but not limited to, alcoholism, compulsive gambling, drug abuse, compulsive eating and other eating disorders, self-mutilation,  "workaholics", and various types of poor personal health care.

Interventions

Interventions are either direct, typically involving a  face-to-face meeting that has challenge to the alcohol, drug dependent person (the most typical type of intervention), or other self-destructive behaviors.

In the same sense, direct interventions tend to be a form of short-term coaching aimed at getting the addicted person into inpatient rehabilitation.

Plans for direct intervention

Plans for a direct intervention are typically made by a concerned group of family and friends,  rather than by the addict. Often the addict will not agree that they need the type of help that is proposed during the intervention, usually thought by those performing the intervention to be a result of denial.  Typically, the addict is surprised by the intervention by friends and family members.

Prior preparation

Prior to the intervention itself, the family meets with a  interventionist. Families prepare speeches in which they share their negative experiences associated with the target’s particular addiction-based lifestyle, to convey to the target the amount of pain his or her addiction has caused others. Also during the intervention rehearsal meeting, each group member is strongly urged to create a list of activities (by the addict or individual with life controlling problems) that they will no longer tolerate, finance, or participate in if the individual doesn’t agree to check into a rehabilitation center for treatment or get intensified counseling for their specific life controlling problem. These usually involve very serious losses to the individual if s/he refuses.

What the person may lose

These items may be as simple as no longer loaning money to the addict, but can be far more alarming. It is common for groups to threaten the individual with permanent rejection (banishment) from the family until treatment is sought. Wives often threaten to leave their husbands during this phase of the intervention, and vice versa. If the individual happens to have any outstanding arrest warrants or other unresolved criminal issues, the threat is usually made that he or she will be turned in to the authorities.

Family and friends present every possible loss that the family can think of to the individual, who then must decide whether to check into the prescribed rehabilitation center and get the prescribed intensified counseling if this an alternative, or deal with the promised losses.

The process of the intervention will have various stages and these are some that I have noted below. I have also noted my personal experience with interventions as a Christian coach and pastor. The experience is extensive and has an extremely high success record. Therefore, I would like to share with you the process and my personal thoughts  behind the process for intervention. This is not a guide written in stone and is flexible because every person is an individual. My interventions are conducted locally and are usually at no cost for my complete participation.  Usually my travel expense, and other expenses are reimbursed if they are needed to travel more than 50 miles. Donations are usually given to our foundation the Young Adult Crisis Hotline for my time, however this is no a condition and not mandatory.

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Critical Crises often offer particularly good windows of opportunity for motivation and intervention. These usually occur in these stages:

  • Pre-contemplation, in which the individual is not considering change.
  • Contemplation, in which the individual is undecided, weighing the pros and cons of change.
  • Determination or preparation, where the balance tips in favor of change and the individual begins considering options.
  • Action, which involves the individual taking specific steps to accomplish change.

During an successfully conducted intervention, with me as  a Christian Counseling and coach the addict or the  individual with life controlling problems does not feel manipulated, forced, directed, coerced, or advised. Direction is typically accomplished through open-ended questions and selective reflection of past and current behavior rather than through more overtly confrontational strategies and advice giving. This is not like other direct confrontational styles that secular interventionists would rather use in an intervention. I like to personally walk, individuals and their families through a series of what are their future goals and how their current behavior hurts the chances of them attaining their future goals. This is where we weigh out the current state and the future. In interventions that I  participate and conduct, I prefer using encouragement and reinforcement to use the individuals own words, desires, plans, and goals to make a sincere commitment to treatment or long-term intensified counseling. 

The interventions are like this  metaphor, the client and counselor are working a jigsaw puzzle together.

Rather than putting the pieces in place while the client watches like most secular interventionists, the counselor helps to construct the frame, then puts pieces on the table for the client to place. The basic conditions of client-centered pastoral counseling and  coaching  provide a strong foundation, with particular emphasis on the strategies of open-ended questions and reflective listening. Such supportive and motivation-building strategies are employed until resistance abates and the client shows indication of being ready to discuss change.

During interventions I might also show agreement with the client’s points of view which shows empathy and personal care. Then I like to re-frame the initial agreement with the goal of motivating the client to a place of reality and rational thought . The goal is still remains encouragement and reinforcement  instead of  confrontation. This encounter, will slowly  challenge the client  in the sense of bringing the client face to face with a difficult reality and thereby initiating change in their mind about their particular life controlling issues. This encourages a client to have personal responsibility and ownership of their own unwelcome behavior. This therefore with out using a threatening confrontational  approach encourages discussion rather that conflict. We have turned the intense conflict to a place of opportunity which produces unity.   

This final action stage of an intervention begins  of confession/admission of their hopelessness and need for help.  This reveals the individuals sincerity and  begins to remove layers of denial.

The client is in the process to “change their mind” about their behavior, which increases the chances if long-term recovery because repentance was initially involved which produces personal responsibility. This leads to Counseling with Rational expression of God which decreases resistance behaviors and has reframed new meanings of Grace to the individual. Many of these times of God’s Grace takes the form of the counselor giving voice to the client’s behavior to instruct and teach verbalizations of the need for change.

If denial which is a defense mechanism in which a person is faced with a fact that  are too painful to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite overwhelming evidence. The subject may deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether (simple denial), admit the fact but deny its seriousness (minimization) or admit both the fact and seriousness but deny personal responsibility (Which is transference: characterized by unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another). I employ another reoriented approach and have increased family involvement in the intervention.

I essentially have carefully taken notes on the individual’s goals and the puzzle the client has constructed  for us and begin the intervention from the initial stage. The family at this point know that we will enter into weighing consequences for lack of personal responsibility. The family will at this point be the reinforcement mechanism keeping the client as the  central focus of the intervention.

I will begin by explaining essential the part of personal responsibility and action to the client. Then I will encourage the concerned group of family and friends  to begin with their prepared speeches to share their negative experiences associated with the target’s particular addiction-based lifestyle, to convey to the client the amount of pain his or her addiction has caused others. Then I will discuss what promised loss. At this point I will ask for the  prepared lists of promised loss that the concerned group of family and friends  are willing to stand by if the target doesn’t agree to check into a rehabilitation center for treatment or agree to mandatory long-term intensified counseling. These usually involve very serious losses to the addict if s/he refuses.

I re-evaluate the individual and the atmosphere to see which direction the intervention  will proceed toward and ask for feed back from the individual how they will feel when these lists of promised loss are enacted. I again will use motivational methods to show the target how much more they gain instead of lose if the choose personal responsibility and ownership. I will re offer the non-negotiable option to seek inpatient treatment or mandatory long-term intensified counseling.

At this point, have evaluated the target extensively and  learned a lot about the target and have more information to  discern the individual’s the denial factors, their responses or reactions and the authenticity for genuine desire for change.  

discern : rationally recognize mentally and see if can understand the difference responses : usually objective well thought out)

reactions : usually subjective and emotionally driven

This is a vital part of the intervention if we have come to this point because we never want manipulated desire which will never  develop a sincere commitment and genuine repentance.  Without a sincere commitment from the individual real change rarely occurs because they feel  forced to get help and usually never complete the treatment. This is because they have the wrong motivation for going to treatment to begin with.

If the individual remains in denial or refuses to get help at this point I encourage the concerned family and friends to keep their promise of loss and to follow through with them immediately. I then address the individual and encourage them to contact me when they are ready and want to make a sincere decision for treatment.

If the opposite takes place and genuine desire is evident for treatment and the individual is ready after weighing the losses. I encourage action and immediate placement into a program that we have already retained in the preliminary meetings. 

The process of motivational reversal usually does not take place and the loss becomes the eventual encouragement for change of the desire of the individual.  This is because the denial of their self-destructive behaviors runs deep in their sub conscious mind. This is usually is the case in long-term addicted individuals with co-dependent  family members, who  the addict knows lack the backbone for action to fulfill the promised loss. The family members of close friends who will not follow through with their promised losses are only extending their own personal agony and the suffering of their loved who is the target. They have also wasted a lot of vital time that could have been spent with others who need the help that was freely given.

During the next several weeks, I personally will follow through with each individual when ever possible who was at the intervention. I will encourage that the promised losses are followed through and am constantly evaluating  to see when the losses will create the proper sincere motivation for change.

If the intervention was initially successful but the individual however did not follow through with the required treatment options in the time prescribed we will follow through until they do or we enter into another intervention where the promised losses ar

e laid out to the individual. This sometimes occurs because of poor time-management skills and lack of follow through on the part of the client which is a common behavior with the addicted and those with life controlling problems.

Summary of

Intervention Goals:

In an intervention, the goal is for the addict or target to take personal responsibility and make a sincere commitment for action and treatment for their self-destructive habits and behaviors.

An addict or individual with life controlling problems often compares himself to peers and reaches in the conclusion that he is normal. As a result he never realizes that he has lost control. What they need in this condition is honest rational objective feedback that their self-destructive habits and behaviors are dangerous and deadly. A skilled interventionist, with the support of family and friends of the addict or target, can help them to realize the situation through the process of an intervention. The interventionist, who gets an idea of the nature and degree of the addiction through meetings with the addict and family, can make constructive opinions on the addict’s behavior.

Through intervention the addict will understand the limits his concerned friend and family have set and realize the fact that they have a problem. They also will know that because of love they were address by their concerned friends and family. More significantly; they will understand that their concerned friend and family will not continue putting up with their self-destructive habits and behaviors. The beginning of liberation of suffering, for both the addict and the family, is the primary agenda of any Intervention. Changing the self-destructive behavior at the source of suffering is always the focus of an intervention.

The sought after result of the intervention, obviously, is getting the individual with life controlling issues to agree that a problem exists and ask for help. The interventionists, at this time, are required to possess enough knowledge to help with referrals of treatment that would be suitable to that particular person as an individual. No one is the same, everyone does not  fit into a mold and each plan must be specifically tailored to each individual. This is not a “one size fits all” strategy.

Then it is vital to comprehend the variety and efficiency of different treatments so that the recommendation can be individualized.

Advanced and highly effective treatment methods for drug and alcohol addiction are available in a wide range of methods. A number of treatment and recovery program options can be considered for every patient. With a lot of choices, it would be advisable if those intervening on behalf of the abuser agree on the program or method most suited for the addict a preliminary meeting prior to the intervention. The availability of these various treatment centers are always a concern, therefore the selection and eventual placement of an appropriate treatment program a difficult task.

Also, in the preliminarily meeting, after deciding on the treatment intended to be proposed for the addict, is required to contact the chosen facility to see if their is availability. The admittance procedure, financial obligation and mode of treatment must be thoroughly discussed with the family.

This is to determine if there is insurance involved and if cost restraints will also be a consideration of treatment. The cost for inpatient treatment varies considerably for 30 day programs with ranges between $4900 and $13,500. The average cost for a licensed 30 day treatment facility is usually $7,500 to $8,900.

If cost restraints, lack of insurance or no funding is available for treatment from the friends, family members, or their employer it will make it extremely difficult for placement into treatment. It is rare that public beds are available and are usually reserved for those in the various entitlement programs.

Free treatment is rare, however available at several homeless shelters, Christian missions with recovery components, foundation’s adult based recovery programs like the Salvation Army and teen challenge. Remember, the individual usually must be detoxified before admittance is even discussed. Please take this into consideration also in the degree of cost and planning.

Addicts live and die on their chance to recover so this is not a decision to be made on the spur of the moment. Convincing the addict of the effect of the treatment is as important as making him recognize his addiction. Moreover, he can be give valuable opinions while selecting an appropriate treatment program.

Everyone is biologically different and responds to Treatment can be different for each. So, the methods and time of treatment vary from patient to patient as the reaction varies according to the individual stage of addiction. In fact, the roadmap for the treatment program takes shape here.


To get the maximum out of it, intervention needs to be conducted on a sober person that is not intoxicated. More importantly, the one who undergo intervention needs to remain sober throughout the entire process of intervention. In any case, attempting an intervention while a person is on a high or intoxicated will usually not be productive because the addict cannot see many of their problems when in a fog of intoxication.

The broken lives and countless numbers of  young adults are being healed and reconstructed daily by our interventions. We have numerous success stories of Young Adults that have come through the valley and in the end have thanked God for the valley. Today they are helping others and serving God all around the world as missionaries, pastors, youth leaders, and Sunday school teachers

In His Grace Forever,
Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP
Young Adult Crisis Hotline
and Biblical Counseling Center

Call Toll Free: 1-877-702-2GOD

                                                     (2463)

theodoreawadjr@comcast.net
http://yacrisishotline.tripod.com/
http://youngadultcrisishotline.blogspot.com/
youngadultcrisishotline@comcast.net

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C0-Dependency or Inter-Dependency?

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Emotional Co-Dependency

A Threat to Close Friendships

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." – Proverbs 4:23

Throughout the years, we’ve realized that one of the most intense struggles people encounter is the problem of emotional dependency. Emotional dependency can range from a powerful romantic attachment to another person to a platonic friendship that has become too ingrown and possessive.

What Is Emotional Dependency?

Emotional dependency, as we’ve defined it, is:

The condition resulting when the on-going presence and/or nurturing of another is believed necessary for personal security.

This nurturing comes in many different forms of input from one person’s life into another:

Attention, listening, admiration, counsel, affirmation and time spent together.

Emotionally dependent relationships may appear harmless or even healthy at first, but they can lead to destruction and bondage greater than most people can imagine. Whether or not physical involvement exists, sin enters the picture when a friendship becomes a dependent relationship. To differentiate between the normal interdependency that happens in wholesome relationships and an unhealthy dependency, we’ll look at the factors that make up dependent relationships: how and why they get started and how they are maintained.

Characteristics of a Dependent Relationship:

We all have a deep need, placed in us by God, for intimate friendships. How do we know when we’re meeting this need legitimately? Is there some way to recognize when we’ve crossed the line into dependency?

Here are some signs that an emotional dependency has started, this is when either party in a dependent relationship:

1. Experiences frequent jealously, possessiveness and a desire for exclusivity, viewing other people as a threat to the relationship. Either party prefers to spend time alone with this friend and becomes frustrated when this doesn’t happen.
2. Becomes irrationally angry or depressed when this friend withdraws slightly.
3. Loses interest in friendships other than this one. Sometimes experiences romantic or sexual feelings leading to fantasy about this person.
4. Becomes preoccupied with this person’s appearance, personality, problems and interests.
5. They are  unwilling to make short or long range plans that don’t include the other person,
6. Is unable to see the other’s faults realistically. Thus becomes defensive about the relationship when asked about it. Reflects and displays physical affection beyond that which is appropriate for a friendship.
7. Refers frequently to the other in conversation; feels free to "speak for" the other.
8. Exhibits an intimacy and familiarity with this friend that causes others to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed in their presence.

How Does a Dependent Relationship Differ from a Healthy Friendship or interdependency where alliance is built?

A healthy relationship is free and generous. Both friends are eager to include others in their activities. They experience joy when one friend hits it off with another. In a good friendship, we desire to see our friend reach his or her full potential, developing new interests and skills. A dependent relationship is ingrown, creating mutual stagnation and limiting personal growth. In normal relationships, we are affected by things our friends say and do, but our reactions are balanced. When we’re emotionally dependent, a casual remark from our friend can send us into the heights of ecstasy or the pits of grief. If a close friend moves away, it is normal for us to feel sorrow and a sense of loss. If one of the partners in a dependent relationship moves, the other is gripped with anguish, panic and desperation. A healthy friendship is joyful, healing, and up building; an emotional dependency produces bondage.

Set-ups for Emotional Dependency.

Emotional dependency comes as a surprise to most people. Like However, dependencies don’t happen in a vacuum. Definite elements in our personalities and situations can set us up for binding relationships. Sins and hurts from the past leave us vulnerable, too. Having an awareness of these set-ups helps us to know when we need to exercise special caution in our relationships.

Personality Set-ups: Who Is Susceptible?

Anyone can fall into a dependent relationship given the right pressures and circumstances. However, there are a few common personality patterns that consistently gravitate towards each other to form dependencies. The basic combination seems to be the individual who appears to "have it all together" teamed up with one who needs the attention, protection or strength the other offers. Variations on this theme include:

1. Counselor / person with problems
2. "In control" people / one who needs direction parent / child
3. Teacher / student.

Although these pairs appear to include one strong person and one needy person, they actually consist of two needy people. The "strong" one usually has a deep need to be needed. As often as not, the one who appears weaker actually controls the relationship. We’ve talked with people who have been "weak" in one relationship and "strong" in another, and sometimes these elements aren’t apparent at all. A balanced friendship can turn into a dependent relationship if other set-ups are present.

Situational Set-ups: When Are We Most Vulnerable?

Certain times in our lives find us feeling insecure, ready to grasp hold of whatever security is available to us. Some of these times include:

1 Life crises – relationship break-up, death of someone close, loss of job.

2 Transition periods – adjusting to new job, moving to new home, getting engaged or being newly married, starting university, becoming a Christian.

3 Peak pressure periods – final examinations week, deadlines at work, personal or family illness, holidays such as Christmas.

4 When we’re away from the familiar and secure – vacation, camp, conferences, prison, military service.

We’re also vulnerable during times of boredom or depression. The best way to avoid trouble is to recognize our need for special support during these times and plan ahead for these needs to be met in healthy ways. These might include sharing our burdens with a small prayer group, scheduling a series of appointments with a counselor or pastor, increasing our contact with family members and most important, cultivating our relationship with Jesus through special quiet times. Also, there’s nothing wrong with letting our friends know we need their support! Problems only develop when we lean too much on one particular friend to meet all our needs.

Roots: Why Are We Prone to Dependency?

In a dependent relationship, one or both people are looking to a person to meet their basic needs for love and security, rather than to Jesus. Unless underlying spiritual and emotional problems are resolved, this pattern will continue unbroken.

Typical root problems that promote dependency include:

1. covetousness, which is desiring to possess something (or someone) God has not given us

2. idolatry, which results when a person or thing is at the center of our lives rather than Christ

3. rebellion, which is refusing to surrender areas of our lives to God, and

4. Mistrust, failing to believe God will meet our needs if we do things His way.

Sometimes hurts from our past leave us with low self-esteem, feelings of rejection and a deep unmet need for love. Bitterness or resentment toward those who have hurt us also opens us up for wrong relationships. These sins and hurts need to be confessed and healed before real freedom can be experienced. This can happen through confession and prayer, both in our personal times with the Lord and with other members of the body of Christ.

Emotional dependency is a painful thing to discuss. Most of us have experienced this problem. None of us are exempt from the temptation to draw our life and security from another person, especially when that person is handy and cooperative. Dependent relationships can form in opposite and same sex friendships. They can happen between married couples and between parents and children. But in the heart of the Gospel, there’s a message of truth that can free us from self-seeking relationships. For a lot of us, that really is good news!

"All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weights the heart"

  • – Proverbs 21:2

Next, we explore the role manipulation plays in these relationships, plus a look at some reasons why emotional dependencies are hard to break.

Maintenance through Manipulation.

Manipulation is an ugly word. None of us likes to believe we could ever be guilty of this activity. Yet when emotionally dependent relationships form, manipulation often becomes the glue that holds them together.

To explain what we mean by manipulation, we came up with a working definition:

"Attempting to control people or circumstances through deceptive or indirect means".

Webster’s Dictionary describes manipulation as being insidious, which means:

1. Treacherous – awaiting a chance to entrap.

2. Seductive – harmful but enticing.

3. Subtle – developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming apparent, having a gradual but cumulative effect.

Some typical forms of manipulation used to begin and maintain dependencies:

1 Finances – combining finances and personal possessions, moving in together.

2 Gifts – giving gifts and cards regularly for no special occasion, such as flowers, jewelry, baked goods, and gifts symbolic of the relationship.

3 Clothes – wearing each others’ clothing, copying each others’ styles.

4 Romanticism’s – using poetry, music, or other romanticism’s to provoke an emotional response.

5 Physical affection – body language, frequent hugging, touching, roughhousing, back and neck rubs, tickling, and wrestling.

6 Eye contact – staring, giving meaningful or seductive looks; refusing to make eye contact as a means of punishment.

7 Flattery and praise – "You’re the only one who understands me."

"I don’t know what I’d do without you." Proverbs 29:5 says "Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet."

8 Conversational triggers – flirting, teasing, using special nicknames, referring to things that have special meaning to both of you.

9 Failing to be honest – repressing negative feelings or differing opinions.

10 Needing "help" – creating or exaggerating problems to gain attention and sympathy.

11 Guilt – making the other feel guilty over unmet expectations: "If you love me, then … "
"I was going to call you last night, but I know you’re probably too busy to bother with me."

12 Threats – threats
of suicide and backsliding can be manipulative.

13 Pouting, brooding, cold silences – when asked, "What’s wrong", replying by sighing or saying, "Nothing".

14 Undermining partner’s other relationships – convincing him others do not care about him, making friends with partner’s other friends in order to control the situation.

15 Provoking insecurity – withholding approval, picking on partner’s weak points, threatening to end the relationship.

16 Time – keeping the other’s time occupied so as not to allow for separate activities.

These are common ways manipulation is used to hold dependent relationships together. Some of these things are not sinful in and of themselves. Honest praise and encouragement, giving of gifts, hugging and touching are important aspects of godly friendship. Only when these things are used for selfish ends — to bind or control another, to arouse responses leading to sin — do they become manipulative.

Why Are Dependencies Hard To Break?

Even when both parties realize a relationship is unhealthy, they may experience great difficulty in breaking the dependency. Often those involved will begin to separate, only to run back to each other. Even after dependencies are broken, the effects may linger on for some time. Let’s look at some reasons why these attachments are so persistent.

There are benefits.

We usually don’t involve ourselves in any kind of behavior if we don’t believe it benefits us in some way. As painful as dependency is, it does give us some gratification. The fear of losing this gratification makes dependent relationships hard to give up. Some of the perceived benefits of an emotional dependency include:

1 Emotional security
a dependent relationship gives us the sense that we have at least one relationship we can count on. This gives us a feeling of belonging to someone.

2 Intimacy
Our need for intimacy, warmth, and affection might be filled through this relationship.

3 Self worth
Our ego is boosted when someone admires us or is attracted to us. We also appreciate feeling needed.

4 Relief from boredom
A relationship like this might add excitement and romance when life seems dull otherwise. In fact, the stressful ups and downs of the relationship can become addictive.

5 Escape from responsibility
The focus on maintaining the relationship can provide an escape from confronting personal problems and responsibilities.

6 Familiarity
Many people don’t know any other way of relating. They are afraid to give up the "known" for the "unknown".

We can’t see it as sin.

The culture we live in has taken the truth that "God is love" and turned it around to mean, "Love is god". In modern history, romantic or emotional love is viewed as a law unto itself: when you "love" someone (meaning: when you have intense romantic feelings for someone), anything you do with that person is "OK". Viewed in this light, dependent relationships seem beautiful and noble. Especially if there is no sexual involvement, dependent attachments are easy to rationalize. Genuine feelings of love and friendship might be used to excuse the intense jealously and possessiveness present in the dependency.

Also, we may not be able to see how a dependent relationship separates us from God. "I pray more than ever", one woman told us. What she didn’t mention was that she never prayed about anything but her dependent relationship. Sometimes people say, "This friend draws me even closer to God." What usually has happened is that the emotional dependency has given them a euphoric feeling that masquerades as "closeness to God". When the friend withdraws even slightly, God suddenly seems far away!

Root problems are not dealt with.

We might end a dependent relationship by breaking it off or moving away. However, if we still have unhealed hurts, unfilled needs, or an unrepentant heart, we’ll fall right into another dependent relationship or return to the one we left. Dealing with the surface symptom rather than the real problem leaves the door open to future stumbling.

Spiritual influences are overlooked.

When we ignore the Holy Spirit’s correction, we make ourselves vulnerable to satanic oppression. Those who willingly enter dependent relationships become candidates for spiritual deception. Wrong begins to seem right to them and truth begins to sound like a lie. When breaking free from dependent relationships, we sometimes overlook the importance of spiritual warfare: prayer, fasting and deliverance. If emotional ties have gone deep into a person’s life, especially if sexual sin has been involved, there’s the need to break the bonds that have formed between the two people. When dependency has been a lifelong pattern, ties need to be broken with all past partners as well, If the spiritual aspects are not dealt with thoroughly, this sin pattern will continue.

We don’t want to give up our sin.

Counselors know the frustration of going through all imaginable steps of counseling, support, and spiritual warfare on behalf of a counselee only to realize this individual has no interest in changing. People in dependent relationships sometimes say they want out, but they really want to be relieved from the responsibility of doing anything about the problem. They hope talking to a counselor will free them from the pressures of their conscience. Meanwhile, their desire and intent is to continue having the dependent relationship. Sometimes the bottom line is this: an emotional dependency is hard to break because the individuals involved don’t want it to be broken.

"For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light, for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true, and find out what pleases the Lord." Ephesians 5:8-10

Healing for this sin that so deeply affects our ability to relate to others is found through right relationship with Christ and the members of His body. In exploring "The Path Out of Dependency", we look at sugg

estions coming directly from Christians who’ve battled this sin, yet now are learning to enjoy relationships that reflect God’s design and intent.

The Path Out of Dependency.

The tendency to draw our life and security from another human being is a problem nearly everyone faces. However, it’s only after we encounter repeated frustration and sorrow in emotionally dependent relationships that we hunger for something more satisfying. We long to find contentment and rest in our relationships with others, but how do we break the old patterns?

Before we start exploring the different elements in overcoming dependency, we need to grasp an important truth: there is NO FORMULA that leads us to a transformed life. Lifelong tendencies towards dependent relationships can’t be changed by following "ten easy steps". Jesus Christ desires to do an intimate and unique work within each of us by the power of His Holy Spirit. Change will come as we submit to Him and cooperate with that work. The guide-lines we’re considering here illustrate ways God has worked in various people’s lives to bring them out of emotional dependency. Some of the suggestions apply to gaining freedom from a specific relationship; others pertain to breaking lifelong patterns. All represent different aspects of a whole picture: turning away from forms of relationship rooted in our sin nature and learning new ways of relating based on our new natures in Christ.

Elements In Overcoming Emotional Dependency

Making a commitment to Honesty.

In the second part of this series, we covered some reasons why dependencies are hard to break. One reason was that as a result of the deception that sets in, we can’t see dependency as sin. This deception is broken when we are honest with ourselves, admitting we’re involved in a dependent relationship and acknowledging our dependency as sin. Then we’re ready for honesty with God, confessing our sin to Him. We don’t have to hide our confusion, our anger, or any of our feelings; we just need to pour out our hearts to Him, asking Him to give us the willingness to obey His will in this matter. The next challenge is being honest with another person. We can seek out a mature brother or sister in Christ and confess to them, "Look I’m really struggling with my feelings towards my partner on the evangelism team. I’m getting way too attached to her. Could you pray with me about this?" As we "walk in the light" in this way, we can be cleansed and forgiven. If we’re aware of specific ways we’ve manipulated circumstances to promote the dependent relationship, we can ask forgiveness for these actions, too. The deeper the honesty, the deeper the cleansing we’ll receive. In choosing someone to share with, the best choice is a stable, trustworthy Christian who is not emotionally involved in the situation. This person can then intercede for us in prayer and hold us accountable, especially if we give them freedom to periodically ask us "how things are going". Extreme caution needs to be used in sharing our feelings with the one we’re dependent on. It’s better to seek the counsel and prayer of a spiritual elder before even considering this step, and even then, we need to ask the Lord to shine His light on our motives.

Introducing Changes in Activities: Gradual Separation.

Whether the dependency has been mutual or one-sided, we usually begin to plan our lives around the other person’s activities. In dealing with dependent relationships in Love in Action, San Rafael, we don’t advocate the idea of totally avoiding another member of the body of Christ. However, we do recognize that a "parting of the ways" is necessary in breaking dependency. For example, we don’t recommend that a person stop attending church just because the other person will be there. But we do know that placing ourselves unnecessarily in the presence of the person we’re dependent on will only prolong the pain and delay God’s work in our lives.

Allow God To Work.

This sounds so obvious, but it’s not as easy as it seems! After we confess to God that we’re hopelessly attached to this individual and are powerless to do anything about it, we invite Him to come in and "change the situation". The Lord never ignores a prayer like this. Some people begin to confront us about this relationship, but we assure them we have it all under control. Our friend decides to start going to a different Bible study, and soon we find a good reason to switch to the same one. We ask God to work in our lives, but then we do everything in our power to make sure He doesn’t! I’ve learned from my own experience that thwarting God’s attempts to take someone out of my life only produces prolonged unrest and agony. Cooperation with the Holy Spirit brings the quickest possible healing from broken relationships.

Preparing for Grief and Depression.

Letting go of a dependent relationship can be a painful as going through a divorce. If we acquaint ourselves with the grief process and allow ourselves to hurt for a season, our healing will come faster. If we repress our pain and deny ourselves the time we need to recover, we’ll carry around unnecessary guilt and bitterness. Some people have said that they found the Psalms to be especially comforting during this time of "letting go".

Cultivate Other Friendships.

Even if it’s difficult, scary, and our hearts are not in it … we need to do it. Our feelings will catch up later, and we’ll be glad we’ve made the investment in the lives of our new friends. The Lord will choose relationships for us if we’ll let Him. Willingness to accept the friends He gives us will deepen our relationship with Him as well. He knows just the relationships we need to draw out our special qualities and chip off our rough edges.

Discover God’s Vision for Relationships.

If we love another person as God loves him, we’ll desire to see that man (or women) conformed to the image of Christ. The Lord wants to bring forth qualities in us that reflect His character and gifts that enable us to do His work. In a recent issue of the This may sound tough, but our willingness to be disciplined emotionally might just make or break a friendship. When we exchange another’s best interests for our own neediness, we run the risk of losing the friendship." If we desire an exclusive emotional involvement with this friend, then our desires are in conflict with what the Lord wants. We need to ask ourselves, "Am I working with God or Against Him in the person’s life?

Resolve The Deeper Issues.

The compulsion to form dependent relationships is a symptom of deeper spiritual and emotional problems that need to be faced and resolved. Self-analysis is th

e least effective way to uncover these problems. The most effective way is to go directly to Jesus and ask Him to show us what’s wrong. "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5) Another effective way is to go to those God has placed in positions of authority over us and submit to their counsel and prayer. For some, a long-term counseling relationship will help us face the sins we need to repent of and the hurts that need healing. The desire to find our identity and security in another human being is a common sin problem with a myriad of possible causes. Confession, repentance, deliverance, counseling, and inner healing are means the Lord will use to bring purity and emotional stability into our lives. The healing and forgiveness we need are ours through Jesus’ atonement. We can receive them by humbling ourselves before Him and before others in His body.

Prepare For The Long Haul.

Sometimes victory escapes us because we prepare for a battle rather than a war. Whether we are trying to gain freedom from a specific attachment or from lifelong patterns of dependency, we need to prepare for long-term warfare. We need to know ourselves: our vulnerabilities, the types of personalities we are likely to "fall for", the times when we need to be especially careful. We need to know our adversary: know the specific lies Satan is likely to tempt us with and be prepared to reject those lies, even when they sound good to us! More than anything, we need to know our Lord. We need to be willing to believe God loves us. Even if we cannot seem to feel His love, we can take a stand by faith that He does love us and begin to thank Him for this fact. As we learn of God’s character through His Word, we can relinquish our images of Him as being cruel, distant, or unloving. A love relationship with Jesus is our best safeguard against emotionally dependent relationships.

Is There Life After Dependency?

Though overcoming dependence may be painful for a season, it is one of the most curable ailments known to man. Often people are so healed that they cannot even conceive of the extent of their former bondage to dependent relationships. The immediate reward in giving up a dependent relationship is peace with God. Even in the midst of pain over the loss of the dependency, we experience peace, relief, and joy as our fellowship with God is restored. "It’s like waking up after a bad dream" one woman told us.

Peace with ourselves is another blessing we receive. It’s much easier to like ourselves when we are not scheming and striving to maintain a relationship we know God does not desire for us. When we have relinquished a dependent attachment, we are no longer tormented with fear of losing the relationship. This, too, brings peace to our hearts.

In the aftermath of dependency, we discover a new freedom to love others. We are members of one another in the body of Christ. When our attentions and affections are wrapped up totally in one individual, other people in our lives are suffering for it. They are not receiving the love from us God intends them to have.

Individuals who have given up dependent relationships say they discover a new caring and compassion for people that’s not based on sexual or emotional attraction. They find they are less critical of people and less defensive. They begin to notice that their lives are founded on the real security found through their relationship with Christ, not the false security of a dependent relationship.

And, finally, overcoming dependency brings us a freedom to minister to others. We can only lead others where we have been willing to go ourselves. When we are no longer rationalizing wrong attachments, we have new liberty in the Spirit to exhort and encourage others! Our discernment becomes clearer, and spiritual truth is easier to understand and accept. We become clean vessels, fit for the Lord’s use.

In our desire to remain free from this problem, we need to remember that hiding from people is not the alternative to dependency. Dependency is a subtle counterfeit to the tremendously rich and fulfilling relationship the Lord intends for us to have through Him. If we are trying to overcome the sin of dependency, let’s remember that Jesus is not harsh with us. He will teach us to love people in a holy way, and He knows that this takes time. There is a battle between the flesh and the spirit in every way of our lives – relationships are no exception. But Jesus is the one who is bringing His body together, and we are learning. "I am confident of this: that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)

John 15:15,

"I have called you friends."

Friendships are made, not born

Christ Himself is our model. He reaches out to us and offers us more than just friendship. He offers us eternal life with Him. He is always there for us and forgives us endlessly. He knows us inside and out and loves us anyway.

We are all born into a family, but we grow into friendships. Members of your family may be your best friends. But if they are, I suspect it’s more a matter of spirit than of blood.

Friends are a priceless gift from God. According to the dictionary, a friend is one person linked to another by esteem, respect, or affection.

One of the advantages of having friends with whom we can have deep conversations about things that matter is the opportunity to discuss each other’s beliefs and doubts.

Developing new friends:

1. Show a real interest in the lives of others. This means asking questions and really caring about their lives, not just your own.

2. Go out on a limb. Invite someone you’d like to know to do something with you.

3. Don’t give up too easily. If someone doesn’t immediately jump at the chance to build a friendship, be patient. Some people need a little more time.

4. Talk to God about your desire for friends. Ask Him to help you find good friends.

In His Grace Forever,

Teddy Awad, CMHP

Young Adult Crisis Hotline and

Biblical Counseling Center

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