where someone depends on approval from another person for self-worth. To gain this approval, the codependent will go to any lengths to “help” the other person, leading to a type of dysfunctional helping that supports or “enables” negative behavior such as addiction, underachievement, immaturity, irresponsibility, etc.
In a codependent relationship, there is no identity apart from the relationship. In other words, the codependent person’s identity is solely built around the other person; specifically, around helping them. This is because a codependent person “needs to be needed” in order to feel good about themselves. They are dependent on the other person’s dependency on them! The codependent will go to any lengths to help or rescue the other person, not allowing them to take responsibility for their own actions or develop normal competencies and coping skills.
One key sign of being in a codependent relationship is when someone’s main purpose in life involves making sacrifices to make the other person in the relationship happy and satisfy their needs. The codependent person will sacrifice his or her own physical and emotional needs for the other person. Other characteristics of codependency may include:
Codependents may not seem dependent; they can disguise their need for approval and reliance on others to confirm their identity and self-worth by saying and doing things that make them appear in control and confident. They may even seem controlling as they hide the fact that their own lives feel out of control.
Anyone can become codependent, but codependency is usually rooted in childhood. Also, research suggests that people whose parents emotionally abused or neglected them in their teens could be more likely to enter codependent relationships. Codependence and dysfunctional helping can be a family issue caused by:
Family and individual therapy can help address the self-esteem and attachment issues that can lead to codependency.
The most important thing in dealing with codependency is to know that behavioral patterns can be broken and codependent symptoms are reversible.
Effective treatments and actions can be taken to help deal with codependency. For example, learning how to find happiness as an individual and changing behaviors can allow patients to attract others (friends, bosses, companions) who are emotionally healthy. We’ve supported many clients as they have transformed their lives and their relationships!
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