Codependency: Giving in too much of yourself in a relationship!
18 Feb 2015
Are you in a relationship in which you are giving endlessly, feel that you are not living your life to the fullest and your primary goal is your partner’s happiness? Do you lose yourself to the idea of caring for another person and are driven in your relationship by sacrifice and a fear of being alone? Then you are codependent.
In practice, we come across clients who are articulate, well educated and competent at their work but portray child like vulnerability and dependence in relationships. Their relationship difficulties make us wonder what makes them so vulnerable. They are mostly codependents.
Co-dependency is not a diagnostic criterion like depression or anxiety and remains hugely under-recognized in the clinical population. As a concept, codependency originated from studying interpersonal relationships in families of alcohol dependents and applied to partners or family members of the dependent individual. Now, it broadly applies to any person who is emotionally controlled by another in a relationship. Women make easy codependents because they are socialized to place heavy emphasis on relationships, sacrifice their own needs and achieve a sense of glory from being available for others irrespective of the treatment met to them. However, codependency should not be confused with situations where women are in situations out of their control and agency and require external help.
How do I identify Codependency
Codependency is a pattern of relating where a person is dependent on another for their sense of self worth and identity. Codependents are especially adept at sensing others ‘moods’ and function best when they lose themselves to the idea of helping their loved ones. They organize their lives around a sense of duty to another and any attention to their own needs leads to an attack of guilt. They are driven by the belief that the other person is incapable of taking care of themselves without their help and they live with a sense of duty and sacrifice. If there is a lack of appreciation for their sacrifices, the codependent person works even harder at appeasing their loved ones. Low self esteem and a deep rooted fear of abandonment lies behind this compulsive need to take care of others. Codependents put great efforts to receive love from an emotionally non available person and eventually tolerate behaviors that stunt both their own and the other’s growth leading to a toxic pattern of relationship.
Codependents might be highly capable people but independent decision making is almost impossible for them as they are weighed by the worry of another person’s reaction or approval. ‘No’ is an almost impossible word for them and codependents find themselves saying ‘Yes’ even when they are thinking ‘No’. They rarely stand up for their own rights and respect, though it is easy for them to put up a grand fight for the one they care for. Often codependents tell themselves that the situation will improve later, keep busy to avoid the problem and use denial as a way of coping.
A married woman did not feel happy about her husband’s close relationship with his colleague. However, instead of confronting him about it, she told herself to be supportive towards her husband who worked so hard and provided for her. She encouraged his friendship with the colleague and brushed aside obvious signs of emotional infidelity which were clear as daylight to any outside observer.
What made you Codependent?
Codependency manifests in many different ways but usually generates from developing in a dysfunctional family where parenting is inappropriate to the needs of the child. One clear indication is “parentification” where children are prematurely thrust into adult roles and responsibilities and their own emotional and nurturance needs are neglected. The parents are emotionally absent either due to their personality, substance abuse or illness and the children have to subdue their needs to please the difficult parent. Negative emotions like anger, rage, and betrayal are either the elephant in the room which exist but are never discussed or are punished and generate shame. The earliest survival skill these children develop is becoming fine tuned to the needs of those in their emotional radar and fulfilling them. At the same time, they develop a blind sight to their own needs and desires. This early on experience leads to a way of relating in which the person experiences no sense of self in relation to key persons in their lives.
Breaking out of Codependency
Very often the codependent person feels trapped in the role of the caregiver and experiences resentment towards the person they are caring for but this emotion is repressed. Bringing change firstly requires identifying codependency and getting educated about its perils. It can lead to mental distress and illness.
Bringing some simple, fundamental changes in how you see yourself and life can be another great place to start your journey out of codependency. You need to understand your rights as an individual and learn that ‘No’ is not a bad word. If you truly wish to reclaim your life you will learn that setting up of boundaries and finding your own sense of self and happiness is imperative to building healthy relationships. Our brain has a barrier called the blood-brain barrier which works as an extra line of defense for toxins that can enter it through our blood stream. Similarly, we need a barrier which will help us to decide which influences are allowed into our lives. Learning to say ‘No’ is a good way to keep toxic people and influences away.
Find time and space for yourself. Pursue the hobbies and interests that you have always harbored for yourself. This will help in dealing with the preoccupation with others and give a sense of doing something meaningful for you. You will reconnect with what you stand for as a person.
If you can, find a compassionate role model. You need to learn to be kind towards yourself and talk about your true feelings without shame. If this is hard task on your own, you have help available. Find a trained therapist/counselor who can take this journey with you. You will find a relationship that is not exploitative, coercive or requiring you to conform to another’s needs. Together you can learn to overcome your feelings of shame and not repeat in adulthood the same kind of relationships that you experienced in the past.
Ttherapy & Counseling is extremely effective in helping you become more comfortable with yourself and much less dependent on others.
If you are facing dependence ssues and this has made you lose yourself then you can get complete help here at ePsyClinic.com through emotional and marriage wellbeing counseling.
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Tags: #emotionally dependent #low-self esteem #Need for approval #Submissive #Codependency