How can you tell if you are co-dependent?
There are so many different definitions out there.
The fact is, codependence is challenging to condense into a singular definition.
Here are a couple of definitions that stand out:
- Someone cannot function from his or her innate self and instead organizes thinking and behavior around a substance, process, or other people.
- In a negatively reinforcing loop, underdeveloped self-esteem combined with an inappropriate caring for others and an inappropriate reliance on another’s response.
- Co-dependents are caring people.
Indeed, there is nothing wrong with nurturing; we are meant to be interdependent. Co-dependent people would benefit from self-examination and redirection to get them on a healthy path.
DENIAL: This is an obstacle because codependency is challenging to see for yourself.
AWARENESS: this is a significant first step! Understanding alone often alleviates many symptoms of codependency.
It is important to note that most people exhibit co-dependent behaviors in certain situations, and a snapshot of most anyone might be seen below.
CODEPENDENCY CAN TAKE MANY FORMS
Let’s see, there many different forms of codependency:
- people pleaser
- drama queen
- and the list goes on.
- Here is what codependency looks like when you’re in a relationship:
- Co-dependents judge and second-guess themselves all the time.
- They live with anxiety that stems from underlying shame and low self-esteem.
- They judge what they should have said or done.
- Some judge themselves as much as they judge others.
EXAMINE YOUR FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
Codependency is a learned behavior, most often passed down through families. As a result, codependency becomes a coping mechanism. Codependency can also be a product of past trauma.
You did not do anything wrong. But as an adult, it is an inadequate and ultimately unsuccessful way to deal with relationships.
You might feel:
- Responsible for making another person or people happy
- Guilt for not helping them
- Find it difficult or impossible to say no
And you may be completely unaware of your own motivating thoughts and feelings.
You may be unaware of your codependency. Although you probably constantly get clues, your ego demands that you misinterpret.
This only makes you try harder.
EXAMINE YOUR OTHER RELATIONSHIPS
Your social life is probably unsatisfying to you. You are too busy with everyone else’s “problems,” work or another addiction, or maybe you’re self-isolating.
Some factors to consider so you can prevent a co-dependent relationship from forming:
● All you may think about is other people, what they should be doing, and what is best for them. If asked, you probably say this is what gives your life meaning.
● Contemplate whether you are pretty driven or an overachiever. You may have an opinion about everything. You may be labeled a “type A” personality, tending toward perfectionism.
● Consider whether you may be uncomfortable alone, even for an hour. It is natural to want human company, but an occasional evening alone is typical for most people.
● Check your primary options for a “frame of mind,” which might be reasonably rapid cycling between miserable and downright giddy. Contentment is probably a foreign state of mind for you.
At parties, or other social settings, are you quite often an “odd man out”? Do You avoid socializing by helping the host, or are you uncomfortably trying to control/help everyone have fun in your way? Do you give up, withdraw from uncomfortable persons – or duck out to escape the loud music, noise, and confusion. This could be normal, but then, why did you come? Alternately, you could be an “attention hound,” constantly on display for attention and right in the middle of the crowd.
CONSIDER WHETHER YOU ARE COMPULSIVELY SEEKING ACCEPTANCE
Do you hide your truth to avoid disapproval?
Do you often explain your issues to someone or provide a running commentary when it is unnecessary (to one who is mostly not listening, as it is irrelevant to them)?
If no one else is present in the same room, you may be explaining anyway to yourself.
Even your manipulative actions, often done in the open, seek acclaim or affirmation, expecting “they should agree; it is the best thing for them.”
Anyone unfortunate enough to have pegged you as a “sympathetic ear,” probably a stranger, is going to get more than they bargained for in your empathic behavior, as in “Let me help (control) you.”
RECOGNIZE THAT AGGRESSIVE CO-DEPENDENTS CAN BE DOORMATS
In attempting to show respect, you may feel a need to be submissive. In reality, we are all equal; even your boss is similar. There is no reason to find yourself receding or feeling subjugated.
Consider whether you are often accused of being wishy-washy or double-minded as you agree with what you disagree with. You can be a chameleon. Or perhaps you have trouble holding on to your ideas or opinions when others disagree. Maybe you don’t know what you think or feel.
NOTICE IF YOU ARE WAITING FOR THE OTHER PERSON TO LISTEN
You are not seeking or allowing honest discussion. You make pronouncements and issue statements. While someone else is talking, you are generally just waiting, probably broadcasting impatience so they will stop and you can make your following announcement.
SEE IF YOU ARE RELYING ON OTHERS FOR YOUR HAPPINESS
You cannot call this happiness if it hinges on someone else’s approval.
● See yourself almost demanding “let me help you”: You may quickly be taken in and have little discernment (naive). You may have no problem being used. You may have friends that you consider “projects.”
● A co-dependent “project,” having no choice in the matter of agreement, will become co-dependent.
RECOGNIZE THAT YOU ARE A GOODHEARTED PERSON
People are or become co-dependent because they care, which has to be better than not watching; recognize that there is a better way to care.
● You want what is best; but therefore, everyone else should want what you want, in your opinion – and any other views may be, at best, secondary to yours. Other people need room to express themselves too.
● You are a perfectionist with yourself and others. It may be difficult (if not impossible) to do anything for you; you mean this to be constructive, but it is not. Perfection does not exist.
● You may not accept compliments or favors well. Rejecting gifts, only to exclaim later that you could have used that.
● Saying “I’m sorry” may rarely be heard from you, except when it is obviously necessary, and then it can come out more like, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Situations where the most passing “sorry” would suffice may make you uncomfortable, but some co-dependents say “I’m sorry” all the time just to keep the peace because they hate conflict.
● You have trouble asking for help and try to be self-sufficient. It may be helpful or instructive for you to practice asking a friend for help in any little way; just, “hey, I could use some help.”
REALIZE THAT NOW IS ALL YOU WILL EVER HAVE
You may constantly live for the future or think about the past. Observe how often you may think that life will be better “when…” or “If only…”, but you may have difficulty carrying out a constructive plan for the future. “Be here now” or “Live in the moment” may be a foreign concept to you.
AM I CO-DEPENDENT: A Checklist:
Check these ways to identify codependency.
● Walk on eggshells. Living defensively.
● Feel afraid to confront others. Avoid conflict.
● Make poor or wrong decisions consistently regarding others.
● Tell little white lies to avoid anger/conflict.
● Feel angry with yourself for not standing up for yourself.
● Blame yourself for dissatisfactions.
● Overprotect unwanted behaviors (hide).
● Get hurt emotionally by others’ behavior consistently.
● Feel used, but consider that you must make that sacrifice.
● Are unable to say “no.” Cannot stop helping others.
OBSERVE THESE BEHAVIORS OF CODEPENDENCY
● Tend to over-emote at people without realizing it, invading a boundary, and setting up a negative feedback loop; you over-emote, they mentally back away, you misinterpret as inadequate and “try harder,” then back to over-emoting, etc.
● Face difficulties with setting boundaries for the other persons’ behavior.
● Have a sense of responsibility for the lack of success or ambition of others.
● Find it difficult or impossible to end an obviously dysfunctional relationship.
● tend to feel as if you need to do more, be more, and generally feel dissatisfied with your inability to change or control the other person’s happiness.
● Give away too much information.
● Cause others to “walk on eggshells” around you.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE:
These signs/behaviors are not mutually exclusive. As said in the beginning, we all tend to be co-dependent. The real question is…is your codependency running your life?
Find out more. Sign up for your FREE session now.