What is Codependency? Do you have it? Wikihow is a great source for understanding and find positive ways of coping.
Written by: Wikihow
Notice if you are codependent. Codependency, also known as relationship addiction, is an emotional and behavioral condition that can affect many different people. If you are a codependent person, you may avoid personal uncomfortable or strong emotions in favor of focusing on another person’s needs.
In codependent relationships, you may focus solely on the well-being and needs of the other person in your relationship and completely ignores yourself, often to your own detriment.
See if you exhibit codependent behaviors. There are a certain set of behaviors that you will exhibit if you are codependent. Your may notice a few or all of these at one time or another throughout your life.
These behaviors include:
A tendency to avoid conflict or uncomfortable emotions, or masking your emotions with passive aggressive expressions of anger or humor
Taking responsibility for other people’s actions or overcompensation for a partner’s actions
Misconceptions that love means rescuing another person, which leads to constant thoughts of the other person’s needs
Giving more than your share in the relationship
Tendency to hang on to a relationship no matter what due to your personal feelings of loyalty to your partner, even though the relationship is harmful, usually to avoid feelings of abandonment
Difficulty saying no or having guilt over being assertive
Extreme preoccupation with the opinions of others or valuing their opinions over your own
Difficulty communicating, identifying your own needs, or making decisions
Feeling resentment over lack of acknowledgment for your personal efforts and self-sacrifice, which often lead to feelings of guilt
Ask yourself questions that reflect codependent behaviors. If you aren’t sure you are codependent based on your tendencies or behaviors, there are some questions you can ask yourself that can help reveal it. These questions include:
Does/has the person you live with ever hit or abused you in any way?
Do you have trouble turning people down when they ask for help?
Do you get overwhelmed by how much you have to do, but never take the time to ask for help?
Do you ever doubt your own wants or needs? Or not believe in who you want to become?
Do you go out of your way to avoid an argument?
Do you worry constantly about how others think about you?
Do you think other people’s opinions are more important than yours?
Does the person you live with have a drinking or drug problem?
Do you find it hard to adjust to changes in any environment?
Do you get jealous or rejected when your partner spends times with friends/other people?
Do you have a hard time accepting compliments or gifts from others?
Determine if you have feelings caused by codependency. If you are or have been in a codependent relationship for a long time, your continual pattern of repressed emotions, your fixation on the other’s needs, and the continual denial of your personal needs can cause lasting effects. It leads to:
Feelings of emptiness
Confusion about your personal needs, goals, and feelings
Know if you are in a relationship that codependency can affect. Traditionally, codependency was limited to romantic relationships. However, despite this common misconception, you can suffer from codependency in any type of relationship.
This includes familial and platonic relationships in addition to romantic ones.
Since it is passed down through families, there may be an instance where your entire familial unit exists or did exist in a codependent state, where all the needs of the family unit are put aside for the well-being of one member of the family.
Recognize common situations that cause codependent relationships. Although codependency issues can occur in any type of relationship or with any person, there are certain types of people that encourage codependent relationships. Codependent relationships often develop between you and a person who needs looking after or taken care of. These types of people include:
Those suffering from addiction
Individuals with mental health disorders
People with chronic illness
Discover the root of your codependency. If you find you are codependent, you should see a mental health professional to help determine the root of your condition. Since codependency is often related to childhood dysfunction, you will work with a therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional to dig into your past to determine the cause. From there, the mental health professional will help you work through these issues in order to heal your condition. The most common forms of treatment are:
Education about the condition and how it affects you and your relationships
Experiential group therapy, which uses movements, actions, and activities to work through your condition with therapy activities such as equine therapy, music therapy, and expressive arts therapy
Individual and group talk therapy, which focuses on discussing and talking through your issues and experiences
Learn to focus on yourself. Codependent people often forget who they are and what their own wants, needs, and desires are. When you are seeking treatment for codependency, work with your mental health professional to help you relearn who you are and what you want out of life.
Since codependent people spend their lives thinking about others, you may not understand how to determine your own needs, wants, goals, and desires. The mental health professional can help you to discover these things.
You may also learn how to perform self-care techniques in order to focus on your own well-being. These include reducing your stress, getting enough sleep, and eating well.
Create personal boundaries. In addition to finding the cause and learning about yourself, you need to break from your current tendency for destructive relationship behaviors and patterns. This can be done by building healthy, flexible boundaries in your relationships. This is often very difficult for a codependent person to accomplish at first, so work with your mental health professional to learn about boundaries and how to incorporate them into your life. This can be done by learning how to:
Lovingly detach yourself from others
Release your control of others needs and well-being
Recognize your internal criticisms and personal need for perfection
Accept yourself and any uncomfortable emotions
Become assertive about your personal needs and values
Join a support group. If you want more help or want to talk to others who are going through the same thing, think about joining a support group. There are some organizations that are geared towards codependency, such as Co-Dependents Anonymous and Al-Anon.
You can search for group meetings on the Anonymous website.
Meetings for Al-Anon, an organization specifically targeted to codependent individuals who have dealt with alcoholic family relationships, can be found on their website.