Guest Speaker

Free Yourself From Co-Dependence!

Free yourself from Co-dependence!

Seven guidelines that tell you if you have a Co-dependent relationship.

Aspects that indicate a co-dependent relationship:

  • A co-dependent person will focus on other people as the source of their pain or happiness.
  • Controlling behaviour - Due to the fact that other people are responsible for the happiness of co-dependents (or at least they believe so) the co-dependent will try to influence the other person or people to act in a way they approve. A variety of strategies can be used to achieve this goal, such as:
  • Enabling and caregiver behaviour – Sometimes co-dependent people will try and take responsibility for others unnecessarily and do things for them that they really should do themselves. The co-dependent person will sometimes even try and enable other people to the extent that they are willing to do something that goes against the co-dependent person’s own values.
  • The search for approval – Co-dependent people will often say or do anything to impress the other person, in an effort to win their approval. Sometimes this can mean being dishonest or exaggerating.
  • Criticize or scold – Sometimes, if the other person can’t be influenced or their thoughts changed through other strategies, the co-dependent person may seek to modify or influence them through disapproval or shame.
  • Emotional pain - A co-dependent person may be afraid of losing the person or people who have become their focus. They may try and make you be feel guilty about your behaviour. In addition, they may feel resentful, angry or hurt. They may have a feeling of failure as they often feel rejected. In addition, it is very common that a co-dependent person may have a strong feeling of loneliness.
  • Defence System - Instead of openly expressing the pain they feel, a co-dependent person may distort their pain through a variety of strategies in an attempt to minimize the impact. They may understate or even deny that they have a problem. They will often attack or blame people who are concerned for them, or try and rationalise the situation and justify their emotions to themselves. Consequently, they do not receive the release of the emotional pain they are experiencing and may continue to develop guilt, fear, resentment and shame. The next and most common step, when the co-dependent fails to release their emotions, is to "take shelter" in any type of addiction. They may resort to drugs, alcohol, food, etc. In an effort to deal with their pain.
  • Delusional belief - Co-dependent people usually believe that the relationship in which they are involved is not really so bad because they are convinced that it can improve. For example, when a co-dependent is involved in an intimate relationship with an abuser they may still hold out hope that this time around change will occur, even if they have been abused before and know not to trust the partner who says it won't happen again. They believe that eventually they will be able to achieve success in controlling the behaviour of the other person. Obviously, this does not happen very often.
  • Loss of one's own identity - It is not uncommon for a co-dependent person to lose their own identity or sense of self as a result of focusing solely on others. Even their values can be in danger. As a result of this loss they begin to focus even more intensely on trying to seek love and self-esteem from others.

Co-dependence in a relationship is an area in which women have a high incidence however men are as capable of being co-dependent as women. They may participate in a personal relationship with someone who needs their support and help, but this is not always the case. A co-dependent person can be seen as a saviour or a helper, but then they can assume the role of persecutor if the attempts to save the other person have failed, which often happens. In many cases co-dependence arises from frustrated needs that were not met in childhood. Often, this can include basic needs such as being appreciated, protected and fed.

When these needs were neglected the limits began to be invaded through patterns of participation of free expression, abuse, grief, and discouragement. The neglect of these basic needs became the primary focus of the adult who wishes to have the needs met in other close relationships.

In some cases it can be difficult to distinguish between being a good partner in a relationship and being co-dependent. You should simply think and feel about whether the behaviours you exhibit are part of a good relationship. Ask yourself the following questions about your relationship:

  • Do you feel like you always have to do something to help your partner?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed by your partner's problems?
  • Would you like to leave your partner and yet you are afraid to do so?
  • Do you still continue with your partner, even though you have abandoned them in one or more ways? (Through work, business, etc.)
  • Do you feel responsible for helping your partner to solve their problems, even if it means ignoring yours?
  • Do you not look outside yourself to appreciate the value, your identity or meaning?
  • Do you usually blame others for your failures, frustrations or unhappiness?

If you answered yes to most of the above questions, then co-dependence may be a problem for you.

Where did this condition originate?

Loneliness is usually what is then projected on another person, often an addict, in an attempt to save that person. In almost all cases the attempt to save the other person only serves to support the co-dependent, while at the same time increasing their anger, frustration, guilt, disappointment and low self-esteem. It is not uncommon for many people to tend to behave in a co-dependent manner, because they simply do not know another way to behave. This type of behaviour was modelled for them and they have learned it over the years, usually from an early age. You should stop and consider for a moment if others often tell you that you tend to overreact. Or perhaps you can say that it is your only reaction to certain situations. If this is the case it could be a good indication that you are reacting to life instead of responding to it. While the two may seem similar, there is an important difference between the reaction and the response. It is very normal and at the same time very important to be able to react to what is happening around you.                             

Having a quick reaction time is good in some cases, but it may not be the only way to focus on life. When the reaction becomes unhealthy it may involve responses to others which are thoughtless. Often this becomes compulsive. You can automatically react to large or small events, with fear, anger, anxiety, shame, guilt, self-hatred, waiting behaviour, etc. A key component is how judging whether you are reacting too quickly and with an exaggerated intensity. Your reactions may be inappropriate for the situation. In many cases, the reactions follow a pattern that is quite predictable.

Review of the characteristics of co-dependence:

  • My feelings derive from being loved by another person / or several people.
  • My feelings about myself are tied to the approval of others / or of a particular person.
  • A person's struggle affects my own emotional well-being.
  • I am mentally focused on solving other people’s problems.
  • My self-esteem is only based on finding the solution to the problems of others.
  • I often push my own interests aside and instead of fulfilling them I spend a lot of time sharing the interests and hobbies of another person.
  • What I do or say is based on the fear of rejection.
  • What I say or do is based on the fear of another person's anger.
  • My social circle has decreased since I became involved with a certain person.
  • I have set aside my values
  • I often do something for others, before they think to do it for themselves
  • I often say yes when I really want to say no.
  • I try to respond to the needs of others, without being asked.
  • I do more than my share of the work.
  • I don't expect to receive much in a relationship.
  • I try to "fix" other people's feelings.
  • I often talk about other people.

Thanks for reading, if you would like to contact me about any of the issues I’ve discussed please feel free to give me a call.

Pepi – PIN 600670

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