You find yourself pining over a breakup much longer than you thought you would.
Your boyfriend has been a jerk lately but you keep going back to him.
Or, your friends tell you that you should be happy on your own, but you’re not.
You find yourself wondering….
Am I codependent?
What is Codependency
By definition, codependence is when someone organizes their thinking and behavior on the needs of, or control of, another person or persons. Often this other person is in turn dependent on a substance such as alcohol or drugs, or another self-destructive behavior. People who are codependent have weak ego strength and struggle to function from their authentic self.
Does that sound familiar to you?
Humans are relational beings, we base many of our choices on the wish to feel good and connect with others. Women in particular often find themselves in the role of caretaker, which can easily turn into getting needs met by attending to the needs of others. This can make it hard for us to know what we think or feel and what we want.
How do you know if you are codependent?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do I constantly seek approval and affirmation?
- Is it hard to ask for things I want or need?
- Do I have difficulty expressing feelings?
- Do I struggle setting boundaries with others, especially those closest to me?
- Am I often caretaking but not getting taken care of?
- Am I supporting or enabling a loved one’s addictive behavior?
- Do I feel a lack of identity without relationship?
- Am I often dissatisfied, easily discouraged, or secretly angry?
Did you answer ‘yes’ to many of these questions?
If so then you probably struggle with some level of codependency. It is probably also true that you’re not satisfied with your personal relationships because you are not getting your needs met. It doesn’t feel good when you can’t make a decision or you feel resentful that you’re always the caretaker.
It’s frustrating when your anger feels stuck inside and you’re afraid to really be yourself. I bet you don’t want to be passive, submissive, or underpaid. You probably want to be seen as powerful, smart and ambitious – but not pushy or angry.
So, I’m codependent and I don’t want to be. What do I do?
Here are a few tips on how to express yourself and develop healthy relationships:
- Find places you feel comfortable asserting your will
- Stop saying ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’
- Experiment with decision making
- Find a friend/therapist who is a great listener and talk, talk, talk so you feel heard
- Explore your anger: What do you believe deep inside about anger? How do people in your family deal with anger?
- Notice when you’re judging yourself and others
- Learn how to take care of yourself rather than everyone else
These suggestions are just a starting point. No matter how you do it, when you work on your codependent patterns, you are really working on empowering yourself. You are looking within yourself for what you believe, feel, want and need, and thinking about expressing what you find in your life and your relationships.
I assure you that the more positive experiences you have of expressing your true self, the stronger you will feel and the healthier your relationships will become.
Good luck!! I’m cheering you on!