What is Co-Dependency and how do you know if you have the traits?Jul 19, 2022
Let’s peek at the psychological background...
Co-Dependency is where people fear being rejected or abandoned, they often adapt to meet other peoples needs and wants to avoid being rejected.
Co-dependency comes from childhood, where one or more of your basic emotional needs have not been met by your parents. It is important to point out that no parent can fulfil your emotional needs 100% therefore this is not about blame, it is merely allowing us to see where this pattern of behaviour may have come from. Co-dependency does not always come from hardcore neglect or abuse, it can be from a small event or experience that has been stored in the subconscious mind.
As a child, we are completely dependant on our parents, we need them to be able to survive and learn the basic behaviours for us to grow. We also at this stage don’t understand the difference between behaviour and identity - so communication, direction or lessons from our parents can appear somewhat confusing.
For example – One minute we are being praised for filling our nappy, the next we are being told that using the nappy is a bad thing and now we need to use a potty – so it's no wonder that mixed messages are received when growing up.
We grow up around the people that we depend on for survival. If those people are telling us that we are a BAD person, or STUPID we allow their words to define us, we learn who we are based on the way our care givers define us.
Perhaps there was positive feedback from the parents/caregivers, however, there was a day when you came home from school – upset and devastated after an altercation and you couldn’t speak to either parent as they were too busy at work or dealing with another issue that was deemed to be more important. Being dismissed and feeling alone can impact how you are around others later in life, the subconscious mind will store and freeze this event without you even being aware.
If a person has experienced deeper levels of neglect or abuse, and constantly being told they are bad, or being told off, criticised for everything they did, having judgmental care givers or those emotionally unavailable to deal with any of their emotional needs, then the co-dependency traits are much deeper rooted.
So, what are the traits of someone who displays Co-dependency behaviour?
People who are co-dependent struggle to connect with how they truly feel, they would rather please others and allow them to take lead. They feel too scared to express how they feel for fear of rejection or abandonment, so they will push their own feelings to one side to please others.
They will display low self-esteem - never feel good enough, never feel pretty enough, never feel loved enough!
They fear confrontation or conflict...
Feel very needy...
Need others to give validation...
Need constant reassurance...
Cling onto others...
Scared to be alone or to even do things alone...
People who are co-dependent can never really be their true authentic self as this person in their eyes is not good enough for the world to see. Most of the time they are unaware of their actions, they may offer advice and help even when the other person has not asked for it, as if it is their role in life to make sure that other people are taken care of.
Anxiety will be present, and they may experience a lot of guilt, especially if they have done something that could possibly offend another person. They would sit and over think the scenario second guessing their actions or thoughts. Boundaries are an issue; they have no internal or external boundaries and quite often overstep the mark and get involved where they are not needed.
Healing co-dependency is not a quick fix; however, it can be done with consistent commitment and determination.
By becoming aware of the patterns of behaviour, each pattern can be altered to present a healthier option, where there is no awareness there will be no change.
Building a good strong relationship with themselves and learning to be kind and understanding, accepting themselves as they are with flaws and shortcomings, being OK with how they look, feel, think.
Reprogramming the mind, researching more about themselves, will help them to understand what they need and want from each area of their life.
Setting boundaries is a must, Internal and External – learning how to say 'NO' to those around who are taking advantage.
Perfectionism is often present in someone who has co-dependency traits, they believe that the only way to get their needs met is to be perfect. This then manifests by fear of making mistakes or judging themselves – learning to be kind and compassionate along with monitoring the self-talk can ease this.
When healing the past, it is important to receive professional help, having someone to hold you accountable to making the steps to move forward helps you to feel supported, plus it is always good to journal your thoughts and talk them through with a Coach/Therapist.
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