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What Are the Signs of Codependency?

What Are the Signs of Codependency

Codependency is a common attribute in recovery. It relates to the relationships you have with yourself and the relationship you have with others.

Codependency is defined as:
“a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. It also describes a relationship that enables another person to maintain their irresponsible, addictive, or underachieving behavior..”

The concept of codependency can be traced back to the German psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Horney, born in 1885. She coined the phrase “tyranny of the shoulds,” which she saw in women. She saw it as the self-critical persona that develops from the anxiety formed by neurosis and a yearning to become our true selves.

These days, Darlene Lancer, a clinical psychologist, an expert on codependency sees it similarly and refers to it as the disease of a lost self.  Codependents develop a persona in the world that reacts to others. They have an imagined idea of who they should be, and they tend to lose themselves in relationships without even realizing it.

Signs of Codependency Include:

  • Struggling to make decisions in a relationship
  • Having a hard time recognizing your feelings
  • Difficulty communicating your true self in a relationship
  • Needing the approval of others to value yourself
  • Trouble trusting yourself and having low self-esteem
  • Major fear abandonment or an obsessive need for approval
  • Depending on relationships for fulfillment, even at your own cost
  • Having an urgent sense of responsibility for actions of others

The Truth About Codependency:

*   Shame and Low Self-Esteem:

Codependents feel like they are not good enough. Comparing to others is a common sign of low self-esteem. However, co-dependents may appear confident even when they feel unlovable or inadequate. Some of the feelings associated with low self-esteem are feeling like everything must be perfect and then feeling intense shame when anything goes wrong.

*   People Pleasing

It is perfectly natural to want to please someone you care about. However, codependent people often do not think they have a choice. Saying “No” is a source of anxiety. Some struggle to say No to anyone. They go out of their way and make sacrifices to accommodate other people.

*   Trouble With Boundaries

It is important as a human being to have boundaries. Boundaries give other people clarity on where you stand and how far you are willing to do. Codependents have weak boundaries. There is a blurry line between themselves and others. They feel responsible for other people’s feelings and problems and blame their problems on someone else. On the same note, some co-dependents develop rigid boundaries and are withdrawn, making it difficult for people to enter their lives. Often, codependents will trouble with having boundaries that are too rigid followed by having boundaries that are too weak.

*   Control

Everyone needs control in their life. You would not want to live a life of constant uncertainty, however, for co-dependents, control is a limiting factor in their life. Control limits their ability to take risks and share their feeling. Control gives co-dependents a sense of security.  Codependents desire to control others close to them because they need to have people behave a certain way to feel okay. In fact, people pleasing and caretaking may be a way to control people without even realizing.

*   Problems with intimacy

Codependents struggle to be open and close with someone in an intimate relationship due to weak boundaries. They may feel judged or rejected often. On the other hand, they may deny their need for closeness, due to underlying emotional issues. Intimacy may lead to problems with sexual dysfunction as well however they are not always connected.

*   Painful emotions

Codependency creates stress and leads to painful feelings. Shame and low self-esteem create anxiety and fear, and the use of drugs and alcohol may be used to numb these feelings.

Overall, co-dependency reveals itself in many ways. It is important to address codependency as it can lead to negative coping mechanisms like increased drug or alcohol use. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, please call now 1-800-777-9588.


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