Codependency: Being dependent on others for your own sense of self-worth and happiness, which can actually help to enable another person to continue in their addiction or dysfunction.
Some Characteristics of Codependency
- They assume the responsibility for others feelings and behaviors.
- They anticipate other people's needs.
- They find themselves attracted to needy people.
- They overcommit themselves.
- They focus all their energy on other people and their problems.
- They are afraid to let others be who they are.
- Codependents have difficulty identifying and expressing their own emotions such as anger, loneliness, sadness or happiness.
- They worry about how others will respond if they do express their feelings, and the fear of other people's responses like anger, determine what codependents do or say.
- They have difficulty forming and maintaining close relationships.
- They are overly afraid of being hurt or being rejected.
- They may suffer from perfectionism and place too many expectations on themselves and/or others.
- They have difficulty making decisions.
- They minimize or deny the truth about how they feel (saying to themselves "it really wasn't or isn't that bad").
- Other people's actions and attitudes tend to determine how they respond.
- They put other people's wants and needs before their own.
- They may have to be needed in order to have a relationship with others. They feel safest when giving.
- Codependents tend to judge everything they do, think or say, by other people's standards. Nothing they do, say, or think is good enough.
- They question or ignore their own values to connect with significant others.
- They value other people's opinions more than their own. Their self-esteem is only bolstered by outer or other influences.
- They cannot acknowledge good things about themselves.
- Their serenity and mental attitude is determined by how others are feeling and behaving.
- They do not know or believe that it is o.k. to be vulnerable, o.k. to ask for help, (have trouble asking anyone for help or a favor).
- They do not know that it is o.k. to talk about family problems outside of the family.
- They are steadfast loyal even when that loyalty is unjustified or is personally harmful.
- They will lie for the dependent person (i.e. calling the boss to say husband is sick when actually he is sleeping off an alcoholic binge, or deny person is addicted and needs help.)
We're not saying, nor do we believe, that meeting needs of others, being there for them, helping them, putting their needs first, etc., are wrong. Codependency is about a life out of balance. A codependent person will try to meet everyone's needs, put them first, at their own expense, their family's expense, and even at the expense of the person they are trying to help. Their value and self-worth are dictated by what they do for others instead of being based on the truth and what God says about each person's worth and value. They live their lives vicariously, through the lives of others.
In reality the motives for this kind of 'giving' are selfish...it is an effort to fill a void that really can only be met by believing they have value not because of what they do, but because they are a creation of God and are are so loved by God that He self-less-ly gave His Son to die for them so they could have a relationship eternally with Him, and then by seeking true intimacy with others that involves give and take in relationships.
What does it take to become an emotionally healthy person?
Check out our Recovery Model.