Codependency is the excessive preoccupation with another person’s needs before our own.
The codependent person will often pick up their behaviour from codependency either being modeled to them by another parent in childhood or not having their needs met as a child.
In codependent relationships there is a lack of boundaries and excessive enmeshment. The codependent is martyr like and will not acknowledge their needs or wants.
They will often be involved with partners who have destructive behaviours and be preoccupied with care taking and enabling. Codependents control others by taking on their feelings and often trying to ‘fix’ their problems without consideration for what the other person wants.
The codependent person will have low, fragile self esteem. They will not have an internal sense of self worth or identity and rely on ‘other esteem’ from those they are involved with. The codependent will have difficulties saying No to other people for fear of upsetting them and feeling guilty for doing so.
Some signs of codependency include:
- Being absorbed in other people’s problems
- Controlling another person and being ‘needy’ for their attention. Not allowing them their own lives
- Becoming fixated on rescuing or fixing people with problems
- Taking on extra responsibility or doing work other people should do all the time
- Constantly seeking approval from others
- Putting up with things you don’t like in a relationship due to fear of abandonment
How do I recover from codependency?
If you do recognize the signs of codependency a good place to start is CoDependent’s Anonymous (CODA) meetings can be found in every area across the UK.
It is also important to get some counselling support with the issues you are having and explore how they arose (often within the family of origin) and work towards changing the patterns of behaviour.
Two great books which deal with codependency and recovery are ‘Co-dependent No More’ by Mellody Beattie and ‘Facing Co-dependency’ by Pia Mellody. Pia Mellody has also written the excellent self help work book ‘Breaking Free from Co-dependency.’