A codependent person is someone who develops patterns in their relationships in which they have a one-sided relationship with another person. In these relationships, the codependent person ignores personal needs and suppresses emotions in order to benefit the other person in the relationship. If you are concerned that you may be codependent, there are methods to help you determine whether or not you are.
Method 1: Identifying Codependency
1. Check to see if you are codependent. Codependency, also known as relationship addiction, is an emotional and behavioural disorder that affects a wide range of people. If you are a codependent, you may avoid uncomfortable or strong emotions in order to focus on the needs of another person.
In codependent relationships, you may focus solely on the other person’s well-being and needs while completely ignoring yourself, often to your detriment.
2. Examine your codependent tendencies. If you are codependent, you will exhibit a certain set of behaviours. You might notice a few or all of these at some point in your life. These behaviours include: avoiding conflict or unpleasant emotions, or masking your emotions with passive aggressive expressions of anger or humour.
Accepting responsibility for the actions of others or overcompensating for the actions of a partner
Misconceptions that love entails rescuing another person, resulting in constant thoughts of the other person’s needs
Giving more than your fair share of the relationship’s resources
Tendency to stay in a relationship regardless of the consequences due to personal feelings of loyalty to your partner, even if the relationship is harmful, usually to avoid feelings of abandonment
Difficulties saying no or feeling guilty about being assertive
Extreme preoccupation with other people’s opinions or valuing their opinions over your own
Difficulties communicating with others, identifying your own needs, or making decisions
Resentment over a lack of recognition for your personal efforts and self-sacrifice, which frequently leads to feelings of guilt
3. Pose questions to yourself that reflect codependent behaviours. If you’re not sure if you’re codependent based on your tendencies or behaviours, there are some questions you can ask yourself to help you figure it out. These are some of the questions:
Has the person with whom you live ever hit or abused you in any way?
Do you find it difficult to say no to people who ask for your assistance?
Do you get overwhelmed by how much you have to do but never ask for help?
Do you ever question your own desires or needs? Or do you not believe in who you want to be?
Do you go out of your way to avoid getting into a fight?
Do you obsess over what other people think of you?
Do you believe that other people’s perspectives are more important than your own?
Is the person you live with addicted to alcohol or drugs?
Do you have trouble adjusting to changes in any environment?
Do you feel envious or rejected when your partner spends time with his or her friends or other people?
Do you find it difficult to accept compliments or gifts from others?
4. Examine your feelings to see if they are the result of codependency. If you have been in a codependent relationship for a long time, your constant pattern of repressed emotions, fixation on the other’s needs, and denial of your own personal needs can have long-term consequences. It results in:
a sense of emptiness
Confusion about your own needs, goals, and emotions
5. Determine whether or not you are in a relationship that can be harmed by codependency. Codependency has traditionally been associated with romantic relationships. Despite this common misconception, codependency can occur in any type of relationship.
This includes both familial and platonic relationships, as well as romantic ones.
Because it is passed down through families, there may be times when your entire familial unit is or was in a codependent state, in which all of the family’s needs are put aside for the well-being of one member of the family.
6. Determine whether your partner is a good fit for the other role in a codependent relationship. In a codependent relationship, there are two types of people. Your role as a codependent is known as the caretaker, whereas the other person in the relationship, who would be your partner or loved one, is known as the taker.
Takers typically have a strong desire to exert control over the attention, love, sexual relations, and approval they receive and give. These things are frequently obtained through acts of violence, blame, anger, irritation, criticism, neediness, righteousness, incessant talking, invasive touching, or emotional drama.
Takers frequently express these behaviours outside of the codependent relationship, which has an impact on their children, work relationships, and familial relationships.
7. Determine whether or not your child is codependent. Because codependency can begin in childhood, you should be on the lookout for codependent behaviours in your children. This is especially true if you find yourself to be codependent. Children frequently exhibit similar behaviours to adults, though they may be more subtle because they are still learning the behaviours. The following are some of the most common symptoms of codependent children:
Worry, stress, and/or anxiety to an extreme
Extreme desire to make others happy
Anxiety about being alone
Frequently becoming enraged
Lack of assertiveness in interpersonal communication
Method 2 Identifying Risk Factors
1. Determine whether or not your family has a history of codependency. Codependent tendencies are frequently passed down through families. This means that you were either a witness to or a participant in a codependent relationship in the past. You were taught that it was wrong to express any needs, wants, or emotions in these situations.
You may have spent parts of your childhood being asked to meet the needs of others, which taught you as a child to suppress personal emotional and physical needs as you grew in favour of caring for a family member.
When you left this family environment, you may have carried on this pattern in your romantic and other relationships, which may have been passed down to your children.
2. Consider whether or not you have a history of abuse. A history of abuse is another common situation that leads to codependency. If you have been abused, you may become codependent as a way to cope with the trauma of the situation. In these abusive situations, you may suppress your emotions and needs in order to focus on the needs of others.
This abuse could have started when you were a child and continued without intervention from your family. This can occur in codependent familial relationships as well.
This can take the form of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
3. Recognize the common circumstances that lead to codependent relationships. Although codependency issues can arise in any type of relationship or with any person, certain people encourage codependent relationships. Codependent relationships frequently form between you and someone who requires your attention or care. People who fall into this category include:
Those in recovery from addiction
Individuals suffering from mental illnesses
People suffering from a chronic illness
4. Examine your family history for divorce. Divorce is another past experience that can lead to codependency. When a parent divorces, an opportunity may arise for the eldest child to step into a parental role to fill the void left by the absentee parent. In these cases, the child’s parenting may result in codependent behaviours.
You may also wish to avoid discussing these issues with the remaining parent in order to avoid upsetting them. This causes emotional repression and can lead to codependency.
Codependency Treatment Method 3
1. Find the source of your codependency. If you discover that you are codependent, you should consult a mental health professional to help you determine the source of your problem. Because codependency is frequently associated with childhood dysfunction, you will work with a therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional to investigate your past to determine the cause. The mental health professional will then assist you in working through these issues in order to heal your condition. The following are the most common types of treatment:
Education on the disease and how it affects you and your relationships
Experiential group therapy, which combines therapy activities such as equine therapy, music therapy, and expressive arts therapy with movements, actions, and activities to help you work through your condition.
Individual and group talk therapy focuses on discussing and talking through your problems and experiences.
2. Learn to concentrate on yourself. Codependents frequently lose sight of who they are and their own wants, needs, and desires. When seeking codependency treatment, work with a mental health professional to help you relearn who you are and what you want out of life.
Because codependents spend their entire lives thinking about others, you may be unsure of how to determine your own needs, wants, goals, and desires. These things can be discovered with the assistance of a mental health professional.
You may also learn self-care techniques to help you focus on your own well-being. These include lowering your stress levels, getting enough sleep, and eating healthily.
3. Establish personal boundaries. In addition to determining the root cause and learning about yourself, you must break free from your current destructive relationship behaviours and patterns. This can be accomplished by establishing healthy, adaptable boundaries in your relationships. Working with a mental health professional to learn about boundaries and how to incorporate them into your life can be difficult for a codependent person at first. This can be accomplished by learning how to: Lovingly detach from others
Allow yourself to relinquish control over the needs and well-being of others.
Recognize your inner critics and your personal need for perfection.
Accept yourself and any unpleasant emotions.
Make a point of being assertive about your personal needs and values.
4. Participate in a support group. Consider joining a support group if you need more assistance or want to talk to others who are going through the same thing. Some organisations, such as Co-Dependents Anonymous and Al-Anon, are geared toward codependency.
On the Co-Dependents Anonymous website, you can look for group meetings.
Meetings for Al-Anon, a support group for codependent people who have dealt with alcoholic family relationships, can be found on their website.
Creative Commons License