How to Understand Codependency

The term codependency has changed its definition over the years to be more inclusive of differing situations. Codependency was first defined as two people with an emotional reliance on one another. While that still is part of the meaning it has since been broadened to encapsulate people in a dysfunctional relationship in which one individual is so reliant on a loved one that they believe that their actions are a direct reflection of their relationship. This feeling can impact the way the person feels about themselves, their self-confidence, and self-esteem. While codependency is not recognized as a personality disorder it is treated as one by therapists in order to provide the best assistance to that person. Now, that we have discussed what codependency is we want to help you understand how to identify it and help yourself break these patterns.

Recognizing Codependency
While these are symptoms of codependency, we want to urge you to talk to someone before self-diagnosing. The most common symptom is low self-esteem or low self-worth. When you feel you are not good enough or do not meet someone’s expectations. This feeling can cause you to feel guilty, strive for perfection, and even shame for not believing in your own value. Family dysfunction could play a key role in how you have processed the trauma of being in a dysfunctional family into what can become codependency in the relationships you build moving forward. When you feel you are not good enough your boundaries can be lower as you aim to please and saying no does not seem like an option. If you are feeling this way you are often able to sacrifice your own needs to meet someone else’s needs.

People who are codependent often take care for those they are dependent on to help fix their problems or repair their negative feelings before their own. When a codependent person is utilizing their need to please others and take care of others they are essentially trying to control them in order to feel secure so that they cannot abandon them. Triggering the fear of abandonment in a codependent person can happen in even the smallest of instances, even as simple as forgetting to call. Putting pressure on this trigger could be met with a very intense emotional reaction. These are just some of the indicators of someone who may be codependent on someone else in their life.

Consequences of Codependency
Over time the effects of codependency will continue to grow and can have mental and physical effects on your body. Some include anxiety to the point that it could be difficult to get through the day without breaking yourself down mentally. It can lead to drug and alcohol abuse as a means for an escape. As well as eating disorders so you can feel like you are in control and not stuck. The refusal to seek medical care comes from believing that your feelings and actions are normal. This skewed perception could make it more likely that you remain in more unhealthy relationships. More physical issues that a codependent person could experience would be high blood pressure, headaches, respiratory issues, and heart problems. Like many other mental disorders, it has its physical complications if left untreated.

Making Change to Manage or Alleviate Codependency
There are some adjustments that can be made to your way of thinking in order to alleviate codependency. The first is knowing the symptoms so that when you are acting this way you are able to recognize it as something that may be unhealthy. Learning to offer support without sacrificing your own needs is very important when it comes to staying far from codependency. Learning to set boundaries can help a codependent person recognize where they can meet their partners, while still making time to meet their own needs.

A big symptom of being codependent is trying to control those around you so you can feel more secure with them. Recognizing that you can only control yourself allows you to feel a release of some anxiety wrapped around the actions of someone else that you cannot control. Many issues tied to the need to be codependent relate to trauma or dysfunction that you may have experienced in your childhood. Seeking help from a professional can help you find the trauma point and process it in its entirety so it can have a more positive effect on your life. There should be no fear in seeking help as we know what codependency can feel like and aim to help you feel free from that need. You may find yourself feeling freed and less controlling of those around you.

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