Codependency and Stinking Thinking

"One of the core characteristics of this disease of Codependence is intellectual polarization - black and white thinking. Rigid extremes - good or bad, right or wrong, love it or leave it, one or ten. Codependence does not allow any gray area - only black and white extremes.

Life is not black and white. Life involves the interplay of black and white. In other words, the gray area is where life takes place. A big part of the healing process is learning the numbers two through nine - recognizing that life is not black and white".

The "stinking thinking" of Codependency causes us to have a dysfunctional relationship with ourselves and others. These are some traits of that stinking thinking:

1. Black and White Thinking:

The disease comes from an absolute black and white, right/wrong, always and never perspective. "I will always be alone". "I never get a break". Any negative thing that happens gets turned into a sweeping generality.

2. Negative Focus:

The disease always wants to focus on the half of the glass that is empty and lament, rather than be grateful for what we have. Even if the glass is 7/8 ths full the disease can find some negative to focus on. (On the other extreme are some people who focus only on the good as a way of denying their feelings.)

3. Magical Thinking:

Mind reading, fortune telling, assuming - we think we can read other peoples minds and feelings, or foretell the future, and then act as if what we assume is the reality. We often create self-fulfilling prophecies this way.

4. Starring in the Soap Opera:

Blowing things out of proportion, playing the "King or Queen of tragedy". Some of us are addicted to "Trauma Dramas" and want the excitement and intensity of dramatic scenes while others of us are terrified of conflict. It is quite common in codependent relationships to have one person who is over-indulgent and dramatic emotionally coupled with someone who wants to avoid conflict and emotions at all costs.

5. Self-Discount:

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Inability to receive, or to admit to our own positive qualities or accomplishments. When someone gives us a compliment we minimize it ("Oh it was nothing"), make a joke out of it, or just ignore the compliment by changing the subject or turning the compliment back on the other person.

6. Emotional Reasoning:

Reasoning from feelings. "I feel like a failure therefore I am a failure". Believing that what we feel is who we are without separating the inner child's feelings about what happened a long time ago from the adults feelings in the now.

7. Shoulds:

"Shoulds", "must", "ought to" and "have to" come from a parent or authority figure. "Should" means "I don't want to but they are making me". Adults don't have shoulds - adults have choices.

8. Self-Labeling:

Identifying with our shortcomings and mistakes, with our human imperfection, and calling ourself names like "stupid", "loser", "jerk" or "fool" instead of accepting our humanity and learning from any mistakes or shortcomings.

9. Personalizing and Blame:

Blaming yourself for something you weren't entirely responsible for, or for how someone else feels. Conversely, you may blame other people, external events, or fate, while overlooking how your own attitudes and behavior may have contributed to a problem.

As children we learned to blame others to keep from feeling the shame of being blamed. As adults we swing between blaming and self-blame - neither is the Truth. The answers lie in the gray area, in 2 through 9, not in the extremes.

The Rules for Being Human

1. You will receive a body.

You may like or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.

2. You will learn lessons.

You are enrolled in a full time informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.

Growth is a process of trial and error experimentation. The "failed" experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately "works"!

4. A lesson is repeated until learned.

A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.

5. Learning lessons does not end.

There is not part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

6. "There" is no better than "here".

When your "there" has become a "here", you will simply obtain another "there" that will, again, look better than "here"

7. Others are merely mirrors for you.

You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.

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8. What you make of your life is up to you.

You have all the tools and resources you need, what you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

9. Your answers lie inside you.

The answers to life's questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.

10. You will forget all this!

Source Unknown


To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another is to risk involvement.
To expose your feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd is to risk.
To Love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.

But, risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing at all.
The person who risks nothing still does not avoid suffering and sorrow because suffering and sorrow are an unavoidable part of life.

What they avoid by not taking risks it the opportunity to learn, feel, change, grow, Love, live.

Chained by their certitudes, they are a slave. The have forfeited their freedom. Only a person who risks is free.

Source Unknown

next: Emotional Release Techniques - Deep Grieving

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 20). Codependency and Stinking Thinking, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Last Updated: August 6, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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