Codependency is a combination of compulsive behaviors that can create toxic or unhealthy relationships. It is often defined as a type of dysfunctional helping relationship style that is deeply rooted.
People often talk about codependency as a by-product of family systems where someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol. While this is common, codependency can also stem from other dysfunctional family systems.
What does codependency look like?
Codependency can feel isolating and shameful. Codependent individuals usually feel as if they do not fit in and have trouble in relationships. They often try to take care of a person who is experiencing difficulty, but the caretaking becomes compulsive and defeating.
Those who struggle with codependency often also struggle with low self-esteem, perfectionism, control, fears of abandonment and problems coping with emotions.
When working with people who suffer from codependency, we help people find themselves again and experience freedom from their self-defeating behaviors. A lot of treatment is centered around healing your past and creating new healthy behaviors for your future.
How can I recognize signs of codependency?
There are five (5) patterns and/or characteristics of codependency. A person does not need to have all of them to be diagnosed with codependency. A person may exhibit or experience only a handful or many of the patterns listed below:
Struggle to identify what they are feeling and often minimize, alter, or deny feelings
Think they can take care of themselves without any help from others
Mask pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation
Express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways
Do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom they are attracted
Low self esteem patterns:
Have difficulty making decisions
Judge what they think, say, or do harshly, as never good enough
Do not perceive themselves as lovable or worthwhile person
Seek recognition and praise to overcome feeling less than
Are unable to identify or ask for what they need and want
Have trouble setting healthy priorities and boundaries
Are extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long
Compromise their own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger
Put aside their own interests in order to do what others want
Are hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings
Have to feel needed in order to have a relationship with others
Use sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance.
Freely offer advice and direction without being asked
Believe people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
Attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel
Suppress their feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable
Avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a way to maintain distance
Allow addictions to people, places, and things to distract them from achieving intimacy in relationships
Pull people toward them, but when others get close, push them away
Believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness