Codependency – What is it?
Codependency is a condition that results in a dysfunctional relationship between the codependent and other people. A codependent is addicted to helping someone. They need to be needed. This addiction is sometimes so strong, the codependent will cause the other person to continue to be needy. This behavior is called enabling. The enabler will purposefully overlook someone abusing a child, will call in sick for someone suffering from addiction, will put roadblocks to prevent their child from becoming independent, or even keep a sick family member from getting the treatment that would make them well.
These are behaviours common to codependents.
A codependent often suffers from a ‘Messiah Complex’ where he sees problems with everyone and sees himself as the only person who can help. Here is where I need to work… trying to be ‘Mr. (or Mrs.) Fixit’ for everyone… even those who don’t feel they need anything fixed. A codependent counselor (common) will never think your sessions are done. In fact, they often create issues that weren’t there just so they can continue to feel they’re an important – essential – part of your life. This is one of the reasons that counselors should spend the first session evaluating the problem and setting up a schedule of sessions to complete the work. If progress is not being made the case manager should refer the client on.
The worst thing that can happen is for the counselor to become the person the client feels they have to take every problem to; it can be addictive to the counselor as well.
That’s what codependence is; an addiction to being needed.
Causes of Codependency
Many codependents, like other addicts, blame the people around them for their problem, or, more accurately, use them to deny their
problem. “I’m not codependent, I just love them so much.” “It’s just that they need so much help. They couldn’t get along without me.” Let’s face the facts; the needy people in your life need to learn to take care of themselves, take responsibility for their own problems and begin to solve them. If you’d stop bailing them out, they’d learn to handle life’s challenges, themselves. So, actually, you’re hurting them! (We’re not talking about a rare emergency situation… we’re talking about a lifestyle of needyness.)
One female counselor relates her own experience: “I remember how upset I was when, in my early 20’s, my mother told me to get a job and move out of her house. It was the best thing she could have done for me. I resented her for at least 5 years.
If you can be strong with the habitually needy around you, you’re not codependent. Codependency, like any other addiction, is caused by a feeling of emptiness; a low self-esteem.
Instead of a drug, a codependent uses the needs of others to make themselves feel whole.
That’s why no one around them is allowed to recover… the codependent wouldn’t be needed.
The only cures for codependency require finding the genuine, healthy sources for a positive self-esteem, to replace the negative ones. A codependency recovery workbook can be very helpful in the recovery process. You also have to learn how to ‘wean’ your needy people off of your help. This is a dysfunctional relationship, and often results in the ‘needy’ person abandoning the codependent. Although very painful, this is better for both people; forcing them to find better sources of fulfillment. It’s good for the codependent to find productive and fulfilling activities that don’t involve satisfying needy people. This can be done with sporting activities, art, school, etc. There are many ways to be productive without attachment to a chronically needy person.
Ultimately, codependents must face the fact that their self-worth comes from the value they have placed upon themselves. By pursuing a healthy relationship with ourselves and our Higher Power, we can be healed of our codependence for good.
Mahatma Gandhi is credited with saying:
A ‘no’ uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.
Our workshop, Dynamic Discovery, works like magic with codependency. For more information contact us today!