Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Why is it that during times of stress that old codependent patterns try to rear their ugly heads? I suppose that our good reasoning gets compromised during times of chronic stress, which leaves us vulnerable to the temptation of codependent patterns. These patterns typically consist of taking the focus off of ourselves and becoming overly focused on what someone else is doing or not doing. It could also include the ceasing of self-care in order to take on more work (which we think is going to make someone else happy) or more worry (because we think we can just solve this problem if we try harder). CODEPENDENT PATTERNS. I can at least say that I more quickly recognize that familiar feeling of "my life has become unmanageable." On the path of recovery I have learned that my own chaotic mind, chaotic relationships, chaotic work, etc. is almost always a result of my attempts to control someone else. When I spend excessive amounts of time doing that, my own personal responsibilities get neglected and, thus, my life becomes unmanageable.
I probably sound like I'm talking from experience because I am REALLY talking from experience! In one of my codependent relapses last week, I got a new understanding about something. I was wondering how in the world Jesus managed a team of 12 disciples? I have a staff of eight at my job, and I sometimes feel as if I'm going to pull my hair out. I know Jesus had moments of frustration with His disciples as well. I am in no way suggesting that I am anything like Jesus or that my work mission reaches anywhere near Jesus's mission while He was on earth. I just thought, if you want to know anything at all about how to be a more effective leader, why don't you see how Jesus did it? The first and most important thing that struck me was how Jesus built his team of disciples. He went through various cities approached various men and said, "Follow me." They either followed or they gave him a sideways glance and mumbled under their breath, "Yeah, sure dude," then went back to their work. I also saw that there were people who came to Jesus and asked how to be a disciple or how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He gave them a very direct and plain answer and many of them said something like, "Oh, wow, I didn't know it would require all that. OK, never mind." Then they left never to be heard from again. Jesus didn't get all emotional about it and chase after them saying, "It's really not that bad! You can do it! I'll help you, really, it'll be OK!" Either way, Jesus didn't beg people to do anything. He didn't threaten them. He didn't interview His disciples then choose who He thought would be the best candidates. He didn't try to convince people with long speeches backed up by the latest research stats or manipulate them through an emotional dissertation.
I've done all of the above and probably done all of the above just in the last few weeks. It's exhausting! I would now like to adopt the Follow Me approach. This approach involves saying simply and directly to someone what you would like for them to do, then you walk away and don't stress it. They will either do it or they will blow you off. When people comply with your requests with this type of approach, then you have a real keeper on your hands. There are actually many people who will just do what you ask, because they love you or respect you. We rarely make it to deeper more intimate relationships with these kinds of people, because we're wasting our time cajoling and pleading with the other type of person who really does NOT want to follow.
The second step of the Follow Me approach is in regard to those who do not follow. This approach requires that I do not chase after those who do not respond to a simple request and I do not block the consequences of their not following. I stand back and allow the chips to fall. If someone does not want to follow or comply with what I've asked, then I am no longer responsible for what happens to them after that. I've got to move on. When you live your life this way, you find yourself surrounded by a committed group of people who do not need to be routinely prodded and manipulated. What Jesus wanted from his disciples more than anything else was willingness. What better way to quickly identify that trait than to offer a simple request, "Follow me," then leave it in their hands.
So I'm moving forward now. Getting up out of the codependent ditch, dusting off and strapping on some Jesus sandals-- FOLLOW ME!
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