A common misconception people share when contextualizing human relationships is when they place their value or worth based on characteristics, experiences, and people detrimental to themselves, usually external and outside of their control. Shame and fear based relationships are often a whirling pool of distress, confusion and anger- providing the perfect breeding ground for a little (big thing) we call CODEPENDENCE.
What is Codependence?
Well, one of the best ways to understand it is to be curious about your own behavior and thoughts… so let’s start there:
1. Do you walk on egg shells around certain people? Feel anxious and afraid?
2. Are you afraid of disrupting the “peace” in your work environment (or any environment) and often find yourself either avoiding, placating, minimizing, rescuing situations and people when there is tension, discomfort, stress, or fear of consequences?
3. Do you often self-sabotage personal success when you’re close to achieving it? Do you blame others and their actions when this happens?
4. Do other people constantly let you down or hurt you? Are you in relationship with a person in active addiction?
5. Do you find yourself care-taking other people’s emotional states? Especially when they are in distress? Do you feel responsible for their emotional and psychological well-being? (children excluded)
6. Do you replicate behaviors and patterns that cause you to feel “stuck” in your life and not moving forward?
7. Do you feel like other people are getting ahead while you sacrifice yourself for no real merit?
8. Do you avoid communicating your true feelings in order to keep the peace, or in fear that it may hurt someone else’s feelings? (Even though YOU’RE massively hurting inside!)
9. Have you said “Yes” to social situations time and time again, even though every bone and fiber of your Being wanted to say “HELL NO, I’m staying in and watching animal videos, but enjoy your brunch in the sun!”?
10. Are relationships stressful and triggering? Are intimate relationships exhausting because you end up doing all the work? Literally and figuratively. Are you always the “nice” guy or girl that get’s screwed over?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, Codependency may be present in your life.
The great news is, you can do something about it!
Psychotherapy and 12 step groups like Codependents Anonymous are great resources for help and support.
If you want to start learning more about Codependence in the safety and comfort of your own home, I highly recommend Pia Mellody’s, “Facing Codependence.”