Causes of Codependency
Children who have to take on the role of the guardian and have adult responsibilities such as fixing dinner, doing the laundry or trying to raise their siblings. This pushes them to focus solely on looking after the household, often at the expense of sacrificing their own wants and needs.
Narcissistic parents can also expect to be the center of attention in their families and often resent their child. They can be dismissive or neglectful towards them or they can become extremely controlling of their child’s life. This leads to codependency, stunting emotional growth, and a need to seek approval and always putting other’s needs first.
Another common cause of codependency is addiction such as gambling, substance abuse, or even shopping. When someone is in a relationship with an addict one person often becomes codependent. As the addiction progresses, the needs of this person are actively overlooked.
The codependent person also takes on the role of the caretaker or becomes their savior. For example, if an addict steals money from someone, the other person will step in to either recoup the amount or request that charges should be dropped against them.
When they constantly “save” their partner from the consequences of their actions, their partner is not going to see the error of their ways. Interestingly, codependent people also become the enablers for the addict in their lives.
An emotionally abusive household or relationship can also cause codependency to develop in a person. In this case, the emotional abuse can cause one to lose their sense of self, have low self-esteem or poor boundaries.
In this case, the codependent person can develop a savior complex where they feel the need to protect others from the abusive behavior. Again, this means that the person is sacrificing their own wants and needs to keep the peace.
Emotional abuse can also make the codependent person feel responsible for the other person’s actions or behavior. As a result, the codependent person might try to become the perfect person.
The hope here is to keep everyone happy so that they do not trigger the abusive behavior. Coincidentally, many codependent people become perfectionists, and they always feel the need to control everything around them. The need for constant validation from others also starts to develop in such scenarios.
Here are some tips on changing codependent behavior patterns.
- Establish Healthy Boundaries
- Learn to Say No
- Support Instead of Save
- Get Help from Others
- Get Professional Help Yourself
- Stop Being a Martyr
- Stop taking Responsibility for Other People’s Actions
- Stop “Fixing” everything and Everybody
- Stop People Pleasing
- Express Your feelings Honestly
- When You’re Hurt don’t Ignore It
- Develop Healthy Conflict Resolution Methods
- Work on Loving Yourself
- Know Who God says You Are
- Find and Utilize a Support Group
Many codependent people have feelings of worthlessness, guilt, low self-esteem and a very negative belief system. This is why they get a sense of validation when they’re helping or looking after others. Connecting your self-worth with people is not healthy since you need to learn that it is not possible to make everyone happy.
So instead of feeling guilty, you should challenge your belief system and change it to a more positive one where your needs are being met, your wants are acknowledged, and your boundaries are being respected, and most importantly, know your true identity.
While codependency is not classified as a mental illness, a counselor can help to shed more light on your tendencies. They also understand how to stop being codependent and can make the process easier for you. Whether you need to establish healthy boundaries, improve your self-esteem and develop healthy relationships, your therapist will help you address many codependency issues.
BH / Source: Anivda
Resources: The New Codependency – Beattie
Breaking Free from the Codependency Trap – Barry and Janea Weinhold