Codependency is defined as a condition in which one person supports, either overtly or indadvertedly the addictive behavior of another person; a condition where one person becomes the “caretaker” of an addicted or troubled person; a destructive form of helping or enabling. Codependents may:
- think and feel responsible for other people’s feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs, well being, lack of well-being and ultimate destiny.
- feel anxiety, pity or guilt when other people have a problem.
- feel compelled in an almost forced way to help another person solve their problem, such as offering unsolicited advice or giving a rapid fire series of suggestions.
- feel angry when their help is not effective or when others do not follow their advice.
- anticipate other’s needs in an unhealthy way and wonder why others don’t do the same for them.
- find themselves saying “yes” when they really mean “no”, doing things they don’t want to do, doing more than their fair share of the work, and doing things that other people are capable of doing for themselves but choose not to do.
- try to please others at the expense of their own happiness or well-being.
- feel sad or resentful because they spend so much time giving to others and receiving very little or nothing in return.
- find themselves attracted to “needy” people, or people who seem to need to be saved.
- find that needy people are attracted to them.
- feel bored, empty or worthless unless there is a crisis or drama in their lives.
- are afraid to let others be who they are and allow events to unfold without interference.
Clearly, we all have some of the above characteristics some of the time, otherwise we would not be human. Problems arise, though, when we adopt an inordinate amount of the above characteristics, to a degree and frequency that life is negatively effected. If you were raised in a family or environment in which substance abuse, emotional neglect, domestic violence, or trauma were present, you may have adopted the above characteristics as a way of surviving. As an adult, these survival strategies can calcify into maladaptive coping mechanisms which interfere with ones ability to have healthy relationships with others. If you identify with the above list, consider attending an Al-Anon of CoDa meeting and/or explore individual therapy. There is another way . . .
Until next time, Peace.