This post was updated on Mar 11, 2023
The traditional definition of codependency is a relationship that is focused on one person fixing and/or controlling another person resulting in their own lack of self-care. “If you are ok, I am ok”. Controlling, nurturing and maintaining the existence of another individual who is emotionally and/or chemically dependent on and engages in undesirable behaviors is a relational recipe for disaster.
Codependency: What Is It And What Are The Signs?
As an example, a classic codependency model is an alcoholic husband and his enabling wife.
Among the core characteristics of codependency is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and a sense of identity and worth.
Take our Codependency quiz, here.
Quiz - Are You Codependent
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Codependents are individuals who give of themselves to others and compromise their ability to care for self. Although the act of giving more of themselves make codependents believe they are “loving more” than the other person, this is not healthy behavior. Love and codependency are far from being the same thing.
Why? Because this leads to enabling. Enabling is a destabilizing behavior to the codependent person because it brings intense feelings of anxiety and fear that a loved one will not be ok. This becomes a difficult feeling to tolerate.
Codependent people often experience an array of conflicting emotions such as anger, guilt, grief, fear and shame. This is because they feel powerless over not being able to change, control, or help another person, which leads to feeling destabilized.
What Are The Signs Of Codependency?
If you’re wondering if you or a loved one is showing some codependency signs, here’s what you should look out for.
Most Common Codependency Symptoms:
- Feel most comfortable when they are giving
- Try to please others instead of themselves
- Have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility
- Feel anxiety, pity, and guilt when other people have a problem
- Try to be all things to all people all the time
- Unable to say “no”
- Seek out chaos and then complain about it
- Get angry when somebody refuses their help
- A tendency to have their self-esteem connected to “doing”
- Try to prove they are good enough to be loved
- Try to be perfect, and expect others to be perfect
- Have self-blame and put themselves down
- Can express signs of control issues
- Feel victimized by the “selfishness” of others
What Causes Codependency?
As children, we are vulnerable and utterly dependent on our parents and caregivers for food, safety, and boundaries. However, if you have suffered abandonment issues or grew up with an unavailable parent, then it means you may have taken the role of caretaker and/or enabler.
In other words, you have put your parent’s needs first, above your own.
What’s more, dysfunctional families don’t acknowledge that a problem exists, and as a result, the family members respond by repressing emotions and disregarding their own needs.
When the child becomes an adult, this leads to repeating the same behavior in their adult relationships.
Can Codependency Be Treated?
Treatment for codependency starts with exploring childhood issues and being aware of dysfunctional behavior patterns.
It is about healing deep-rooted feelings of hurt, loss, and anger from past wounds. Healing allows you to reconnect to yourself with self-compassion and self-love.
We recommend that you seek support from professionals and talk about the pain that’s inside of you.
How To Overcome Codependency In Relationships
While overcoming codependency is no simple task, there are techniques you can use to minimize its effects. Here’s what you can do to heal from codependency:
- Practice independence.
- Take care of yourself.
- Keep your expectations in check.
- Make peace with past mistakes.
- Set healthy boundaries.
Remember, you are worthy of happiness and love and a healthy relationship. You can have relational freedom and say farewell to your relationship problems. And we can help!
PIVOT: Your Key To Breaking Codependency Patterns
Our PIVOT coaches will provide you with support and healing. We help codependents by focusing on creating healthy boundaries, building self-esteem, learning how to say “no” without guilt, and cultivating deep self-care.
Our clients include family members and spouses of addicts of all kinds. We also get individuals who struggle in the workplace or in the home with codependency, as well as individuals dealing with depression symptoms.
Attend intensive workshops at our retreat: The Glass House, or schedule a one-on-one session with a PIVOT Advocate who will create an individual coaching program designed to repair and restore relational challenges. We’re here to help.