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Compassion vs Co-Dependency???

By March 13, 2020ART CLASS Stories:

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This is a grayscale.
I use it in many of my art classes in order to distinguish appropriate feelings, actions, etc.
This is how it is used:

1.) Over-react
Situation=Your sister is borrowing your clothes without asking.
Immediate reaction=9 (“I hate you. Get out of my room.”)
More appropriate response=3 (“Why can’t you ask me first?”)

2.) Under-react
Situation=Your dad is leaving your mom
Immediate reaction=2 (“I don’t care.”)
More appropriate response= 8 (“I will be sad if you go. How will we stay in touch?”)

When students can SEE how inappropriate their reactions are they can adjust their responses to situations much easier.

The VISUAL helps the process move forward.

Now to a recent situation with an adult art student of mine:
She is in a relationship where nobody in her family approves. They say he is needy, homeless, no job, an alcoholic,  just to name a few reasons.
I know you are asking yourself  “Why?!??#!!**?? would anybody date someone like this?
Well, her answer is “He’s a good man who has had some bad luck.”

I struggle with her choices as well and try to help my student see clearly through her art.
This is where the grayscale comes in.
Lets say to the extreme left of the grayscale is COMPASSION and to the right is CO-DEPENDENCY.
My student understands what both definitions mean, and considers the left side of the scale to be a more appropriate place to be.
My student (let’s call her Sue) is in love and is not willing to let him go (let’s call him Steve). This relationship has been going on for 2 years now and Sue’s family has disowned her. Still she won’t give up the relationship.
Sue has lost most of her friends and continues to fluctuate between being anxious, sad, scared, careless and “in love”. Did I mention Steve is 30 years younger?

So, now is the time to introduce Sue to the grayscale assignment:
Question #1= How often does Steve stay at your home instead of living in his car?
Is this compassion or co-dependency?

“Compassion because the weather has turned cold.”

You are lying to your family. How does this make you feel?

Happy                                                        9     Sad
“Sad because they won’t give Steve a chance.”

Are you holding Steve back from helping himself?

Yes                                                       8              No
“No. He is trying to find a job, he just has to quit drinking first.”

What is the best course of action for BOTH of you?

Leave                           5                                   Stay
“I want to help him get on his feet but he can’t do it without me.”

I am hoping that these numbers will change in the future but Sue now has a VISUAL  response that tells her she is more Co-Dependent than Compassionate.

My next class is to make an art piece that shows how Sue will feel when Steve leaves her for a younger gal and she has no family or friends to comfort her.

Scared & alone


Sad and helpless

Angry & hurt


Most of the time the grayscale is a powerful tool in discovering more about yourself, but sometimes it makes no difference in the choices we make.

Just sayin’


Author Tamlin

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