“Speak without offending. And then listen without defending.”
Many people struggle with codependency. How can we recognize those tendencies in our own lives and work through them?
Todd Mulliken owns his own counseling practice outside the Twin Cities. He urges us to think through our conflict styles and practice speaking our minds with grace and truth as Jesus did. Codependent people don’t speak their mind because of the fear of others, but that is the first step toward living in healthy relationships.
Here are some phrases we can bring out in hard conversations:
“When ______ happened today, this is how I felt about it. My feelings were hurt. How do you see it?”
“Your anger is concerning me.”
“I’m hurt by this.”
Many people don’t charge into conflict because they’re afraid to set the other person off in anger. Todd says the key is to stay calm and be clear about what you want.
“The only way we’re going to move the needle here is if you speak your truth.”
What if we speak our mind in a calm moment and the situation escalates anyway? Todd reminds us of Paul’s words from Philippians 4:12, written from prison.
“I have learned to be content in all things, whether in plenty or in want.”
Our peace ultimately can’t come from a solid relationship with another person. It comes from knowing who we are and whose we are in Christ. Given that stability, we don’t need to be swayed by conflicts with those in our lives.
Todd also has a word for parents – the codependency cycle starts at a young age. Train your children to speak their mind in an assertive way and it will bear fruit when they’re grown. Todd and his wife have three adult daughters, and he’s mindful of the impact he had on them growing up.
“In the first eighteen years of life, there’s a lot of interactions going on. How am I doing as a father giving my girls a chance to have their voice? My wife and I are the authority in the home under God’s love, but how are we doing with giving them a voice? So if they know their own feelings, then when they’re a big person, they’ll be able to have interactions with their spouse, the boy they’re dating, or a colleague at work, and be able to speak their own truth.”
Featured Songs: The River by Jordan Feliz; Unashamed by Chris August