Do I have co-dependency ?
Signs and symptoms of co-dependency
Have you ever felt that you are “ living through or for another person”? What does this means and what kind of things you do when they place all your focus on someone else.
Have you ever experienced the follow?
- Overly pre-occupied with another person’s life – inadvertently trying to control other people.
- Offering to take care of things / doing more than their share
- Difficulty saying no to requests from others
- Compulsively trying to solve other people’s problems.
- Trying to ‘fix’ other people
- Feeling responsible for other people’s feelings such as happiness/ sadness
- Feeling responsible for other people’s actions / thoughts /needs
- Trying to control other people’s choices
- Putting other’s needs before own needs.
- Staying in unhealthy relationships.
- Believing other people cannot manage without them.
- Believing that someone else is the cause of their happiness / unhappiness
- Compulsively rescuing people from difficulties.
If you experience any of the above you may be experiencing co-dependency.
Reasons for co-dependency – connection to addiction.
Why do people act this way?
- To feel valuable
- To avoid looking at own life / issues
- To avoid feelings of worthlessness caused by low self esteem
- Feeling that people won’t like them / will abandon them if they assert own needs
- Believing others are responsible for their happiness allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their own life.
Co-dependency has strong associations with addiction and it was first associated with the families of alcoholics but the term now has broader applications
Co-dependents were often raised in dysfunctional families (families with addicted parents / parents with emotional / psychological disturbances) in which their childhood needs were not met. They often had to look after parents or only got attention by “being good and helping”.
They often gravitate towards people with problems ie addiction as they get feelings of self-worth by helping / controlling other people.
Co-dependents often have addictions themselves as they rarely express true self / own needs, which eventually leads to feelings of emptiness and worthlessness.
Co-dependents inadvertently enable addicts as they often feel useless / worthless if the addict gets clean and they have no-one to blame for their own feelings of emptiness.
Impact of codependency on self / relationships. Why is it considered an unhealthy behavior?
- Loss of identity / sense of self
- Emotional problems such as depression, anxiety and stress
- Physical problems such as ulcers, migraines, skin rashes, insomnia, stomach problems, digestion problems.
- Inability to achieve true intimacy in relationships as own needs / desires are not expressed.
- Continued patterns of unhealthy relationships as co-dependents do not see their own part in the unhealthy dynamic.
- Preventing addicted partners from getting / staying clean by inadvertently enabling them.
“So what can a person do to recover from co-dependent behavior?”
As the main issue is low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy the following measures can be taken.
- Learn to let go of the need to control others
- Accept that they are responsible for their own feelings, thoughts and actions.
- Accept that other people are responsible for their own feelings thoughts and actions
- Get in touch with their own needs, wants and desires and begin to express them.
- Learn to be alone
- Focus on building self esteem
- Focus on building a meaningful life independent of other people.