What is Codependency?
- compiled by Philip St. Romain; all rights reserved
Codependency is an unhealthy pattern of thinking, deciding. and relating in which we define our happiness and pain according to how other people and circumstances beyond our control relate to us. Consequently, codependents try to control other people and circumstances to minimize their pain and increase their comfort.
Family, Community, and Social System Rules Which Promote Codependency (by Robert Subby, Lost in the Shuffle)
- It’s not OK to talk about problems.
- Feelings should not be expressed openly.
- Communication is best if indirect, with one person acting as messenger between two others (triangualtion).
- Unreasonable expectations: always be happy. be strong, be perfect.
- Responsibility for others’ feelings (“make us proud”).
- Don’t be selfish (which included, here, self-loving).
- "Do as I say. not as I do."
- "It’s not OK to play or to be playful."
- "Don’t rock the boat." Peace at any price.
These rules contribute to the dynamics of invalidation and shaming. which leaves people with a sense of being loved conditionally, and. therefore, not-OK.
Examples of Codependent Attitudes and Behaviors
- Feeling unable to leave the nest or a job, or leaving it with bad feelings on both sides.
- Feeling obliged or required to visit, telephone, entertain, etc.
- Being exceedingly hurt by what others say, feel, think, do.
- Difficulty saying no when someone asks you to do something you do not want to do. People-pleasing.
- Persistently lying about your own behavior so others won’t be upset with you, or so that they will be more impressed.
- Apologizing for things you did not do.
- Being “in training" all the time. Never settling into a phase of self-confidence.
- Difficulty with identifying and sharing feelings. Wanting instead to talk about how others are bad/good, right/wrong.
- Asking or waiting for permission from others to do things for which you do not need their permission.
- Giving up your own life when a loved one dies or when a partner leaves a relationship.
- Allowing someone else to make decisions for you.
- Difficulty openly admitting mistakes.
- Putting off something that needs to be done because it is risky or unfamiliar to you.
- Not doing something in front of a parent or dominant person because they might not approve. Ex. smoking, drinking.
- Being embarrassed by the behavior of a spouse or child, as if they are an extension of yourself.
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