Rule 1: It’s not okay to talk about problems
Family members pretend the problem will go away while they relieve tension by fighting about small unrelated issues. This type of denial ultimately fosters a deep sense of personal shame, which causes people to avoid looking at the problems.
Rule 2: It’s not okay to talk about or express our feelings openly
Emotional blocking takes place, which causes our instincts to be sabotaged. Bizarre behavior is treated as normal and so becomes normal. The cutting-off of our emotional selves becomes so complete that we no longer know who we really are.
Rule 3: Don’t address issues or relationships directly
Triangulation occurs when family members communicate indirectly, often with one person acting as the messenger between two others. Children begin to feel burdened to fix the situation between adults. Children who have been go-betweens feel guilty if they are unable to keep their parents together.
Rule 4: Always be strong, always be good, always be perfect
Believing there is only one right way to do things may lead to the belief that even perfect is not good enough. Fear of failure develops and then produces perfectionism or an unwillingness to fail. Perfectionists feel low self-esteem when they fail and will desperately avoid it. Performance based acceptance is their motto. They do good deeds in order to get the love they so desperately need. They become obsessed with getting everything, everyone, every circumstance to line up with what makes them feel safe.
Rule 5: Don’t be selfish
It is not selfish to ask for help but for the codependent learning to ask directly for what they need stops them from manipulating others. For example: They will not take a needed a break until others insist they break from their martyr’s routine. They actually sin against themselves to manipulate others to force them to meet their needs. Why? Because martyrdom gives them self-worth.
Rule 6: Do as I say not as I do
This rule teaches us not to trust and become divided inside. Image management becomes primary.
Rule 7: It’s not okay to play
This will cause the codependent to always be working twice as hard as everyone else just to feel okay. Having a project or a crisis to work on gives one a sense of purpose.
Rule 8: Don’t talk about sex
Causes shame over our sexuality.
Real 9: Don’t rock the boat
When one person in an unhealthy system gets help it throws the whole system into crisis. Unconsciously other dysfunctional family members seek to sabotage a family member in recovery. A troubled family will destroy one member to keep its denial system from being penetrated by the truth.