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Eric's Sunday Sermon; Of Co-dependency and Empathy

Updated on May 8, 2016

It is more fun to be together

Happy Mother's Day
Happy Mother's Day | Source

Is it so bad?

Oh my, having my happiness depend upon the happiness of another. Sorry to tell you but mine often is just that way. Taken to extremes this is a very negative thing. Taken in small measure this is the juice of life. How can I love my brother and not care how he feels? Is not the bringing of joy to another one of the most joyous things that we can do? So of course bringing sadness to another is one of the saddest things we can do. Do not try to say that your heart is not broken when a young child’s heart is broken.

But alas we cannot control the hearts and minds of our neighbor or sister. So if their heart is hardened or in distress are we to be hardened or in distress? It is a wonderful balancing act that is an integral part of living this life. I love the phrase; “you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them”. Usually meant somewhat sarcastically it is more of a mantra for someone who suffers extreme empathy. I had a yogi tell me once about getting in deeper touch with your feelings; “The good news is that you feel more, the bad news is that you feel more”. So let us take a look at having our feelings deeply affected by the feelings of another.

Oh let us get me out of the way for starters. My dependency is more than what is healthy. In my mind I often focus on the reaction of others to actions I take. I just can’t get out of my head “will she like it?”. If I allow it, I focus more on that than on the task at hand and it takes me out of the moment and living in a fortune teller future. I project into future if it will be pleasing to another rather than doing it well for the sake of doing it well. But as you can see I recognize it and can stop the monkey mind from going so far that the anticipation is more important that the actual. I suppose it would be nice if my mind just went to the healthy thoughts rather than having to work at it, but it is what it is so I deal with it. Perhaps having something to do with being the youngest in a large family – people pleasing is engrained.

So let us look at this with an eye toward being healthy.

Please let it grow!

Sometimes staying out of the way brings the greatest smiles.

I told my wife Mother's Day should be a day of mom's giving thanks that they get to be mommy. I wish I could be.
I told my wife Mother's Day should be a day of mom's giving thanks that they get to be mommy. I wish I could be. | Source

What would it be like to be dependent on nothing?

Hey now I just got to tell you that nothing makes me happier than being in a place with my friends and family all around all happy. Shoot I, in a previous age, would do anything, lie, steal cheat borrow and beg to make that happen or to prevent otherwise. Call it a compulsion I had. Now I look more at me. In fact if I set my mind straight I can be that happy even though everyone else is not. Oh sure do what is reasonable to accommodate. Make plans to assuage stress and angst. Pay attention to other’s feelings and act in advance accordingly. But it just is no longer my job to assure that everyone else is happy. Most of that is on them and not on me. Oh sure I am accountable and a bit responsible but I ain’t God. Being the director of how people’s life’s pan out is way above my pay grade. And I learned a bit ago that most people that mean a lot to me, are really happy if I am happy. Perhaps that is the best gift I can give.

We looked at me, now let us look at you. Is your happiness dependent on other people’s happiness? You are probably normal and you say “not wholly dependent though it does effect me”. Please take a moment and celebrate that fact. There is an organic part of us that wants other’s to be happy. And we feel happier when they are. Hooray for our design. Compassion and sympathy are not just taught they are a part of a healthy good human being. They exist in all of us in that universal attribute called love. Do not let anything I suggest diminish your savoring of that connection to others. Try as hard as we can we cannot detract from the fact that we are all connected and that is a very good thing. Hang on to it but manage it appropriately. The first thing you need to do is to get rid of the guilt. If your house is in order and you have caused no harm to another, then let go of the notion that you feel bad because you did not insure someone else’s happiness.

There is a concept that flows through aggressive competitive sports. No pain no gain. It kind of is true if you are looking at working out in your youth. You basically have to push it hard in order to build muscle and muscle memory. You cannot increase your limits without pushing them. You cannot be comfortable in the box and expect to break out of it. As we age, it is the exercise itself that is beneficial. Pain is more of a warning sign that should be heeded. But in the spiritual and emotional we often see the mantra is accurate. I do not adjust my emotional state until I suffer pain in that realm and need to move forward. My growth is often necessitated by a swift emotional kick in the ass. My spiritual growth is quite often the result of a painful void. My reliance on the emotional well being of another for my happiness is going to cause pain at some point for I will fail. When we grow tired of the pain we will grow and become less reliant on that which we truly cannot control. A positive road forward is essential to our wellbeing.

I admit it. I am somewhat dependent on my two girl's happiness.

I just refuse to not care how happy they are.
I just refuse to not care how happy they are. | Source

Call me sentimental - I just love old friends

Maybe I can just do good without expectations of return.

Here is something very fun. I can talk biblically without quoting the Bible. For sure. Really. I am no prophet. I just have spent so much time in study and reverence and preaching that I kind of can go into the zone. Let me do it quickly without pause: “You have a piece of God within you”. You will not find that as such in the Bible. But you will find this in Luke 17:21 – The Kingdom of Heaven is within you. If you are my typical reader you will be asking “what the heck does this have to do with co-dependency?” And the answer is very cool. I am healthily dependent on God. Hey look here if your dependency on another gets you, forces you to do good stuff, right on and more power to you. My dependence on my family’s approval of me keeps me acting right. Thank you family. My dependence on my God’s approval of me helps me keep from sinning. Shoot and shucks my need for your approval of my sermons keeps me doing my very best. Embrace it, caring what others feel can be really good for you.

Do you ever have those days when no matter what someone does you are grumpy? OK maybe no whole days but moments when you are up in your head and another’s kindness just does not register. Hey don’t feel bad that is normal. But turn it around. Sometimes no matter what you do the other is up in their own space and are unchanged by your good deeds. Get over it and drop it. Be happy for doing good for goodness sake.

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    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 17 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Devika. It is good of you to come by and leave a note. "Powerful" is a proper term.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 17 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      It is a loving effect to care for others your message is powerful and important to our daily moments.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 17 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Maybe on some days I am not "dependent" but I sure to like it when we share.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 17 months ago from london

      Thanks Eric. Another great and positive Hub. We are all dependent in one form or another, and yes, definitely on our Lord. Higher Blessings, my Friend.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 17 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      What a great comment to the hub Shannon, thank you. "feel it, recognize it and move on"

    • shanmarie profile image

      shanmarie 17 months ago

      I really like this message. Empathy and caring what others think can be healthy. In fact, if one knows how to share empathy with others without becoming so anguished oneself as not to cope with it, much good will eventually come from it in many cases. People too often get caught up emotionally experiencing the problems of others and then are no longer helping because they are not healthy. That only makes it worse for everyone involved.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Eric

      So cool! And when you give you get so much more back.

      Amen bro

      Lawrence

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Cool isn't it Lawrence when we realize that it is a two way street. I still don't give enough in return.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Eric

      Outstanding hub. I was going to disagree some at the start as I've found anchoring my happiness to other people not to work, but as I read further I understood more where you were coming from!

      I think I was a teenager when I realized that wasn't going to work and probably a year or so later decided that my attitude can affect others.

      That was when I decided that I can 'put a smile on the dial' of people's faces!

      For me, life's too short to let people affect my attitude, but it's also too short to have people go through it with long faces. Do I avoid them? No! They need people to get alongside and just leave them in a better place than where they found them!

      My thoughts anyway.

      Lawrence

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you for coming by and letting me know that it meant something to you.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 18 months ago from Dubai

      Enjoyed reading, lots to learn and remember. Thank you for sharing.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Frank thank you so much. It is good for me to drop down and create awareness in my own mind. You just pushed me to stop and en joy.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 18 months ago from Shelton

      as many times as I enjoyed your sermons I failed to mention the beauty of your family.. and how blessed they must feel... thanks Eric for keeping these entries coming :) Frank

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks for coming by and leaving a note Devika. Internal happiness is the most stable if we can have it.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 18 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I am happy from within and don't depend on others to make me happy because if I did that I will certainly be most unhappy. My strengths overrides my weaknesses. Thank you for the encouragement.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 18 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Much appreciated, Eric, and God bless you too.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      John I pray for you.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 18 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you, Eric. I'll do my best. Cheers.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      John I am sorry for your family troubles. I hope things take a turn for the better. I am sure that your positive outlook and strength will help you help them.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 18 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for the very positive and encouraging message, Eric. We had a wonderful family get together for Mother's Day and to celebrate my wife's, eldest son's and my birthdays..all within a week of each other in May. The happiness was a wonderful distraction from other not so good news happening in the family. My wife's eldest brother has been diagnosed with a progressive brain tumour and has only been given from a week to three months to live. Their younger sister died from the same thing three years ago, two months after being diagnosed. Now my wife and youngest sister will be getting tested to see if there is some genetic link. The only other brother has leukaemia. It is a struggle to be happy at the moment but we need to look on the positive side don't we, and make the most of life while we have the opportunity.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      God bless you my soul mate Linda. Oh these truths I speak are noting compared to my wife's motherhood. How I burn inside and wish for such a connection that is enveloped in that hug of love. I Chollula I stood and was amazed by a golden cathedral built upon a pyramid of the Myans. The glory and reaching for the heavens is overwhelming. But not near so much as the bosom and blosom of a mother. My gal will walk into my home in moments. A scrubbed happy boy will meet her in joy. I will stand aside until my turn to be included. There is nothing as wonderful and great as a mother's love. Is she dependent on it - damn right a good woman is.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 18 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric - There are so many truths in this message--I hardly know where to begin. Although it is true that we cannot direct another person's happiness, you and I know that part of our love of life is wanting the best for those around us. Another thought--I know that I am loved by an awesome God; I am cradled in His hands. He is in charge and it's all good!! But there is one other little truth in your message--about your happiness being dependent on the happiness of others.

      I know that when I admit this, I am straying away from that "God is in charge and will take care of you" maxim, but a wise person (in my opinion) once said "I am as happy as my saddest child."

      I know that fathers love their children, and I'm not suggesting that fathers do not love them as much as their mothers, but I believe that there is an almost spiritual connection between mothers and their children. We hold, nourish, and protect them within our bodies for 9 months. There is a unity there that is not totally broken when the umbilical cord is severed.

      I have two adult daughters--each with their own special gifts, talents, and needs. I cannot rest at night when I know that they are hurting. When they were 5 it was so easy--the wounds were scraped knees or bee stings. A kiss and a hug (and maybe an ice cream cone) would solve everything. But now their wounds are deeper, uglier. I can't wipe them away with a kiss or erase the memory with ice cream.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 18 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      For a long time, my husband and I had a co-dependent depressive relationship. When he was up, I was down, and visa versa. It took a lot of learning and living to get to the point where we could both be up at the same time! Part of the problem was this people pleasing issue. We would sacrifice our own needs to try and meet what we perceived the other person needed. Unfortunately, our assumptions were not correct. Now, we are much better off because we openly communicate with each other about our needs and desires. It helps immensely!

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 18 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      I used to try and make people happy and sometimes this meant sacrificing my own happiness to please them. Well one day I noticed that as uncomfortable as I was willing to make my life for others, the same wasn't being done for me. This taught me a lesson. No one was responsible for my happiness and vice versa. Once I stopped being a "people pleaser" it shocked many people, who were used to taking advantage of me. I still try to make people happy I just no longer do it at my expense.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dora, I have an understanding about this honesty deal. I can't do it on my own. My emotions cloud my judgment as to what is true. I accept that. With God I can clear the fog. I can willingly accept guidance. And the cool thing is that that guidance is offered through friends like you. I confess my dependence on angels in the form of folk like Dora.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 18 months ago from The Caribbean

      Eric, I appreciate your appeal for us to be honest about how we feel. We do not truly know who we are, if we do not deal with how we feel. "So let us take a look at having our feelings deeply affected by the feelings of another." The questions and suggestion you pose are very helpful.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Tim Thank you for sharing that with me. I cannot know the minds and hearts of others very well. So I put myself in their shoes and try to see from their perspective. I am confident that your friends feel your love, and that that is a blessing for them. A buddy dropped me an email the other day and simply said "I am thinking about you". That raised my spirits. It is good that we need each other.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 18 months ago from Escondido, CA

      Thank you for the message that is encouraging. I have a friend to visit today in the hospital and has been there for about seven weeks now. Yesterday, I received distressing news for a Dearest Best Friend in another country. I can't hug either of them.

      I am very empathetic and am left only with words laced together to offer Love and encouragement. The hospitalized friend suffered a stroke during heart surgery, so today may not even be able to comprehend the words. And, the words by email for the other are empty of emotion except with the skills of writing.

      I feel and understand the point about co-dependency regard others happiness affecting my own . . . And, the point of not expecting anything in return and just be a messenger with a message . . .

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Shaloo we are blessed to have others in our lives. In both the good and bad times.

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 18 months ago

      It's said that happiness should not be dependent on others but practically it seems very difficult.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks Bill, I am truly a lucky man.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I always enjoy your message but today I totally enjoyed the pictures of your beautiful family. Enough said....you are a lucky man!

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Harishprasad. I hope we never stop caring.

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 18 months ago from India

      Eric, I'm happy if a family member is happy, and I 'm happy if other people are happy. However, the intensity of happiness is more in the company of my family members. One thing I 've learned that the suffering of every guy, though one may be our adversary, is not to be trivialized. This sermon made me think that even if we're able to create an affable atmosphere even within our family, that is not a mean achievement. After that sky is the limit to spread our wings of love. My friend, this talk of happiness, love, empathy by you has surely spread magic all around, at least in my case I 'm convinced. Thank you.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Interesting isn't it Clive. Thanks for letting me know. You know how goofy I am. I just hope more folks get the message.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 18 months ago from Nibiru

      ERIC THIS SIGHT STOLE YOUR HUB AND MINE!

      ht tp://best-article-every-day.ga/erics-sunday-sermon-of-co-dependency-and-empathy/

      I put a space between the http to not allow a link to be created to their site. I suspect it is someone who is following us on hubpages

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ruby, there is no mistake in this hub being on Mother's Day. I was in my twenties before I could let down my hair and just enjoy my mom and not be so worried about pleasing her. A fun one. She criticized me and I remarked that perhaps she was projecting her own inadequacies on me. She started laughing too hard and suggested that "isn't that what all us parents do". My mom had six of us. Somehow she always made me feel like her happiness was all wrapped up in mine. Well we love and we care and that is awesome.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ed, my main man. Let me just say that I have had a better few days that you have been publishing your poetry here again. Maybe I am not dependent on you for happiness, but nonetheless you make me happier. There is a downside to all this beautiful family around me -- I am always the ugly duckling ;-)

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      Kathleen Kerswig 18 months ago

      Releasing expectations is a big step in this process. I'm so glad I read this today. In years past, I often struggled with being dependent on others for my own personal happiness. If a family member was having a bad day, I had just as bad a day, if not worse. I've outgrown those behaviors now but I remember the feelings I went through before I realized I could be peaceful, calm, and happy regardless of what others in my household were going through. I could be empathetic, kind, and loving without going down the "rabbit-hole" with them, so-to-speak. I am truly grateful to have learned this valuable lesson and I thank you for sharing on this topic today. Blessings!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 18 months ago from Southern Illinois

      You are right-on about the family making you happy. When my family is happy, I'm happy, but if they're down it does affect our happiness. We had a wonderful Mother's Day service at church this morning. I thought of my mother and my grandmother Minnie being in heaven together and of course that brought happiness and some tears. I miss my mother everyday. You have a beautiful family. We all are so blessed to have you on Hub Pages. Thank you.....

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 18 months ago

      Well ! ......, You my friend can do no wrong with the two most important ingredients , an extremely beautiful family and the powerful need to help them and all others in the pursuit of happiness ! You are always so great about choosing the best sermon topics ............:-]