Updated: May 15
Updated: May 12, 2021
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. That's what you are supposed to do for others, right? Well, 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 a sign of codependence.
If you are:
denying your own well-being to met someone else's
tolerating disrespect and dysfunction from others to avoid conflict and/or rejection
excessively relying on others for emotional fulfillment and self-identity
feeling responsible (and/or guilty) for other's choices
having difficulty identifying your own needs and wants
putting your own needs last our of "love" or "duty"
expecting others to make you happy and vice versa
believing it's your job to "fix" or "save" people
seeking approval by performing deeds
doing more for others than they are willing to do for themselves
trouble setting healthy boundaries in your connections
assuming what's best for others
Then you may be 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 to be loved/liked, and that you must earn love and acceptance - that you have to prove your worthiness.
Sign of codependency are:
over-extending yourself past your limits in dis-serving ways
believing the quality of your life and emotional fulfillment depends on others
feeling responsible for others' well-being
believing everything is your fault; guilt
committing to unhealthy, one-sided relationships
denying your needs/putting your needs last
lack of proper, effective communication
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
low self-esteem/negative self-perception
needing to be needed
constantly seeking external validation
fear of rejection and abandonment overrides self respect
accepting broken promises
minimizing situations that emotionally hurt you or do not honor you
committing to friendships and relationships 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 journal prompt:
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? Did you overlook any red flags? If so, what are the red flags? 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 you can uncover your hidden beliefs in struggling with codependency.
Light and Love,