Managing energy for independence
Anita Baden will host a workshop entitled "The Secret about Codependency: It’s all about Energy," at the Park City Library next Wednesday. The Park City psychotherapist will share her expertise on practical behavioral and mental exercises that she has found to be successful throughout her career as a counselor to couples, individuals and recovering addicts.
One suggestion she makes is posting notes that pose questions such as "where am I?" "am I present?" or "is my mind and body in the same place?" to help a person develop awareness about what and to whom they are giving their mental energy. Being disconnected to present time, she observes, guarantees a person is not in touch with their own thoughts and feelings.
"In my work with people who are codependent, I see them unconsciously giving away a lot of energy to the person they are in a relationship with — and not just behavior, but by thinking about them all the time," Baden explained. "Often, they are more focused on the other person’s needs and desires than on their own needs and desires."
"Codependency" has been a hot-topic in recent years, Baden observes, noting Robin Norwood’s best-selling book, "Women Who Love Too Much," and Melody Beattie’s book, "Codependent No More" as examples of the popularity of the codependency movement. As a result of the interest in the movement, however, she says the term "codependency" has unfortunately at times been misrepresented in some discussions of the topic, and has come to mean many things. In part, she hopes to clarify the subject in her workshop, she says.
According to Baden, the original definition of "codependency" emerged from clinical theory and therapies developed by the Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA), a program Baden facilitated at hospitals and nonprofits in Salt Lake after receiving her graduate degree in social work at the University of Utah 20 years ago.
In her 12 years of private practice in Park City, Baden has encountered a variety of codependent relationships. Whether through nature or nurture, the most common pattern she has observed is that of a woman who attempts to meet all her partner’s needs in the hope that if she makes him happy, he will make her happy.
The therapeutic methods Baden will share Wednesday combine insight-oriented, cognitive and behavioral therapy models with integrative medical principles about energy and healing, she says. Though perhaps some of her more holistic methods based on Eastern medicine practices might appear too "new-age" for some, once described, the concepts can be simple to implement, Baden says.
"Some people are more aware of to whom they give and how they lose their energy or how they are being affected by another person’s negative energy," she says. "But most people can understand that if they spend their whole day doing things for other people, they’ll feel their energy depleted at the end of the day."
Baden separates the two roles of a codependent relationship into "energetic givers" and "energetic consumers." "Givers" are drawn to people who they think they can "fix." "Consumers," on the other hand, seek out people who they hope will rescue them and adore them.
"Most of us take turns being the ‘energetic consumer’ and ‘energetic giver,’" Baden explained. "This ebb and flow of roles along with autonomous behavior signals a healthy partnership."
But "when we cling rigidly to one role, we create imbalances in ourselves and in our relationships," she said.
In the continuous "energetic giver" role, a person tries to anticipate another person’s needs, and is willing to change himself or herself in almost any way to be loved by their significant other. They also may feel responsible for the other person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors, according to Baden. "E.G.s [‘energetic givers’] squander a great deal of their mental, physical and emotional energy by trying to ‘fix’ and/or please their partner," she says.
The idea behind Wednesday’s workshop is to provide people with the skills and the knowledge they will need if they wish to become more aware of what roles they play in their significant relationships. If a person chooses to become more "mindful," they will need not only change their behavior, but their way of thinking, says Baden. At the very least, Baden hopes that people will walk away from the workshop with a better understanding of their own style.
"When people give themselves permission to be themselves, it’s lovely to see them blossom," she observed. "And it’s lovely to watch someone who’s never thought about someone else, begin to develop empathy for someone else."
"The Secret about Codependency: It’s all about Energy" will begin at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4 at the Park City Library at 1255 Park Avenue in room 109. For more information, visit http://www.parkcitylibrary.org or call 615-5600.
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