Are You Codependent? 6 Ways To Tell
What is Codependency?
Codependency is easily observed but difficult to define. Codependency is going to excess to meet the needs of another while sacrificing your own. People who are codependent often use a relationship to fill a void because they have low self-worth and self-love. Are you codependent? It can be hard to tell and it’s often hard to make sense of codependency or picture what it looks like. Have you ever read the children’s book The Giving Tree? I’m guessing you have but also guessing you probably didn’t realize it was the perfect illustration of codependency.
In the book, a boy meets a tree. The boy would swing on the branches, eat an apple, play hide-n-seek and “the tree was happy.” The boy becomes a young man and wants to build a house so the tree gave its branches, “and the tree was happy.” As a middle aged man he wants to build a boat, so the tree gives the man its trunk, “and the tree was happy”. Eventually after the tree has given everything it has the man returns and all the tree can do is offer to be sat on. The Giving Tree was no longer a giving or living tree.
It’s obvious the boy only came around when he wanted something from the tree and the tree was only happy when the boy came around. Eventually the tree exhausted every resource to keep the boy around which led to its own destruction. Have you ever done this in a relationship – given so much of yourself that there is nothing left? Are you codependent? Read on to find out 6 signs and symptoms of codependency:
6 Signs of Codependency
Difficulty Establishing Boundaries
Are you codependent? Are you willing to give even when you don’t have money or resources to give? Do you give even when you know you shouldn’t? Perhaps you feel guilty if you can’t or worried you will let someone down. You may feel pulled to enable someone who has an addiction or troubling behavior by helping them instead of empowering them to help themselves. Codependent people often feel responsible for the other person’s feelings. They have a difficult time putting their own needs first. They might hide their true thoughts and feelings to avoid upsetting the other person.
Are you codependent? Do you spend time measuring your self-esteem by how much someone depends on you or how needed you feel? Have you ever attempted to receive approval and failed, resulting in feelings of shame and worthlessness? You may experience feelings of extreme discomfort or depression when not in a relationship and may believe you do not deserve happiness. You may find a sense of purpose or the sense of “feeling needed” which causes internal-gratification, even if the other person does not show appreciation back to you.
Want or Need to “Rescue” Others
Are you codependent? Have you tried to engineer change of someone whose problems are much bigger than your ability to fix them? Codependent people may feel it is their duty to protect their loved ones from all harm. If a loved one does something wrong, they will likely try to fix the situation on loved one’s behalf. Such behavior can prevent others from becoming independent or learning from their mistakes.
Are you codependent? Do you often make the other person’s well-being a priority over your own? You may deny your own needs for rest, emotional support and self-care. You may feel guilt or anxious when asserting your own desires.
Need for Control
Are you codependent? Codependent people often connect their self-worth with another’s well-being. If a loved one fails, a codependent person may feel like a failure themselves. Their attempt to make others’ lives better may shift into controlling or possessive behavior. Do you offer help or advice to someone with a life or relationship problem who doesn’t ask for help?
Are you codependent? Codependents have high expectations from others, especially family members. Many codependents feel driven by perfectionism, and experience volatility and instability in their relationships. Do you have a habit of projecting an image of self-reliance and competence? It is common for codependent people to take on more responsibilities than they can handle. Codependents can feel insecure when they make an error or receive criticism.
Now that you know more about codependency, does this sound familiar – are you codependent in your relationships? Breaking free from codependency can seem like a difficult or impossible task. Don’t do it alone. If you think you could be in a codependent relationship, I recommend the team of highly trained therapists at Family Therapy Associates of Jacksonville. They specialize in helping clients understand how their behaviors impact themselves and their relationships and practical ways to manage common codependent behaviors. Another great resource is the book Codependent No More. You may even go back and read The Giving Tree again with a new perspective to see if you relate in a different way.
What ways have you found helpful in letting go of old codependent behaviors? Learn more about breaking the cycle of codependency.