holding hands

Hold Space, Not Ropes: The Difference Between Compassion and Codependency


Sober Recovery Expert Author

holding hands

Often, people confuse compassion with codependency. In fact, the confusion is typically what enables those in active addiction to remain there, return to it or refuse to further their recovery by means of deep healing. As such, they may not fight against the confusion in terms, as it typically works to their ego’s advantage. But, it does nothing for their holistic health and safety.

Of course, it’s not only the individual in active addiction whose ego is served by confusing compassion with codependency. After all, the acts of perceived compassion by someone in active codependency are typically efforts to protect the self; acts based on fear rather than love.

Ultimately, we can hold space for those we love, learn to love ourselves and hold space for our own healing and recovery.

Compassion is about seeing people and their choices through the eyes of loveaccepting of other’s choices and their individual journeys without judgment while maintaining healthy boundaries that prevent others’ choices from negatively impacting our lives. Codependency is seeing the same through the eyes of fearrefusing to accept the free will of others due to a fear of the potential outcome and how that will impact us and our lives. This experience ultimately results in attempts to control another’s choices and any resulting consequences.

Holding space for someone is about keeping an open heart and realizing that everyone has their own journey and that we cannot judge or change where another is on their path. In fact, we have no need to. Every path ultimately leads in the same direction: home. Even if the duration of the journey is longer and more tumultuous for some, we are simply to let go in love, knowing that they must be free to make their choices. After all, their choices (just like ours) are their soul’s right.

Conversely, holding ropes is an enabling, selfish act that stifles our journey, as well as someone else’s. Stemming from fear and control rather than love and faith, it wreaks havoc on our serenity and sanity. Neither party grows or progresses forward, and each is robbed of their Light, their God-given right to free will and their purpose.

Remember, we all came to this planet to learn and master different things and to offer various forms of Light to the world. In other words, we all have our own Divine purpose here. The paths we choose are typically our personal training ground. For some of us, it becomes a boot camp with varying levels of intense and painful training. But, the journey serves our souls and the world, regardlesseven, and sometimes especially, if we take a dark path.

However, when we hold ropes rather than holding space, we are forgetting that codependency is an addiction too. Just as substances may be threatening someone we love or our relationship with them, codependency is doing the same. It threatens us and destroys any authentic relationship we have with ourselves or anyone else.

It’s not as simple as letting go, but the process begins with understanding that holding ropes will not save a life but will instead lead to the potential destruction of two or more lives. But, we can choose to heal the reasons we’ve held on so long. We can choose to heal from the traumas of our childhood where our parents or family members may have held ropes, exposing us to the chaos and insanity.

Ultimately, we can hold space for those we love, learn to love ourselves and hold space for our own healing and recovery.

If you or someone you know is seeking professional help, please visit our directory of mental health resources or call 800-891-8171 to start the path to recovery today.

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