I know, you think you are just doing the right thing by making sure everyone is happy. You're always helpful and giving, there when someone needs you and never asking for anything in return. You're willing to extend yourself with no problem. And even when you do have a problem, you keep it to yourself and offer your efforts anyway. That's what you are supposed to do for others, right? Weeeeell, if extending yourself for others is causing you to neglect your own life and wellness, then that isn't 'just doing the right thing', it's codependent.
If you are:
denying your own well-being to met someone else's needs
relying on relationships with others for your emotional fulfillment and self-identity
feeling responsible for others problems, issues, and quality of life
putting your own needs last
expecting others to make you happy and vice versa
attracting people with lots of problems and imbalances
seeking approval by performing good deeds
doing more for others than they are willing to do for themselves
lacking boundaries in your relationships
Then you are struggling with codependency. The term originally applied to those who were caretakers of a family member or spouse who struggled with alcohol/drug addiction or illnesses. Now the term can apply to any type of relationship: romantic, family, children, friendship, business, church, or any other form of connection with others. There isn't a solid clinical definition for codependency. However, the bottom line understanding is this:
Codependency is an unhealthy condition that consist of one focusing on others at the expense of themselves - neglecting your own well-being to tend to someone else's.
In a nutshell, it's putting everyone else's oxygen mask on before your own.
It seems noble, but the truth is codependency is deeply rooted in repeating messages that you aren't enough, your emotions/thoughts are invalid, you don't deserve good things, taking care of yourself is selfish, you must avoid conflict, and that you must earn love and acceptance - that you have to prove your worthiness.
Sign of codependency are:
over-extending yourself past your limit
believing the quality of your life and emotional fulfillment depends on others
feeling responsible for others well-being
believing everything is your fault; guilt
staying in unhealthy, one-sided relationships
denying your needs
lack of proper communication
weak or difficulty setting boundaries - feeling guilty when you do
afraid to say no or speak up for yourself - feeling guilty when you do
ignoring your own needs and well-being / lack of self-care
needing to be needed
seeking others for validation
fear of rejection and abandonment overrides self respect
putting your needs last
attracting romantic partners with lots of problems, drama, and imbalances
For me, it wasn't until I was sick, broke, depressed, and lost that I realized I was drowning in dysfunction. I was drowning from neglecting my own well-being to tend to my at the time boyfriend's need and family needs. Basically, I was pouring from an empty cup. I thought was just doing what any "good" girlfriend or daughter was supposed to - be willing to bend backwards with no complaints. But after hitting rock bottom, I learned some hidden beliefs that drove my codependency. Beliefs that we will discuss next post and how to overcome them.
For now, try this:
Take some quiet time alone to write out and really process the types of relationships you've had throughout your life and how they've impacted your life. From family, to friends, to lovers. What was the relationship like? How did you two interact? How did you meet? If applicable, how did it end? If it didn't end, what is the relationship like now? How did the relationship make you feel? Get a clear understanding of your relationship patterns so that we can uncover your hidden beliefs and why you struggle with codependency.
Light and Love,