20 Warning Signs that you Might be Codependent
Have you ever wondered if you were codependent? Or maybe someone told you that you were, but you weren’t sure what exactly that meant. Well, this blog will hopefully answer that question for you and help you to recognize if you are in a codependent relationship with someone.
What is Codependence
Generally speaking, codependency is a pattern of behavior in a relationship that has unhealthy boundaries and an unhealthy attachment style. A person who is codependent will put aside their own needs for the needs of others and will become hyper-vigilant about making that person happy. A codependent relationship is often with a romantic relationship, but really it can be in any relationship such as with your sibling, a parent, friends, co-workers, or even with a boss. When codependency was first talked about, it was in reference to people in relationships with others with substance use disorders, but now it has moved beyond that and can be with anyone so long as certain conditions are met.
Characteristics of a Codependent Relationship
To truly find out if you are in a codependent relationship, please check with a mental health professional. The difference between being “normal” and having a condition or issue such as codependency is that of degree. This means that you may have some of the characteristics of codependency, yet you do not have them severe enough to be considered codependent, and in fact, at the level that you display the characteristics, they are considered normal. Because of this, it is very difficult sometimes to determine this about yourself. However, I’ve listed some of the characteristics below:
1. Difficulty identifying what you are feeling at any given time
2. You behave in a way that is completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of someone else, often to the point of ignoring your own needs
3. You find it hard to make decisions because you don’t want to hurt or offend anyone
4. You judge yourself harshly and know that what you do is never enough and that YOU are not enough
5. Have difficulty accepting compliments or praise
6. Have difficulty identifying what it is that you need and want
7. Don’t believe that you are loveable or worthwhile
8. Have a high sensitivity to the feelings of others, often feeling their feelings stronger than your own
9. Are extremely loyal
10. Value other people’s values and opinions over your own
11. Get very nervous and avoid expressing opinions that are different from other people’s
12. Use indirect or evasive language to avoid conflict
13. Have an overwhelming fear of rejection
14. Apologize or take the blame often, even for things that are not your fault
15. Feel guilty or anxious when you do things for yourself
16. Your self-worth is based on what others think of you
17. You have an excessive concern about another’s habits and behaviors
18. You go to excessive lengths to try and protect others, often from their own decisions and behaviors
19. Your mood often reflects someone else’s feelings and mood rather than any of your own feelings
20. You find yourself doing things that you don’t really want to in an attempt to make others happy
What Causes Codependency
Like many issues we all face in our lives, codependency is often a result of childhood experiences. Often we notice that the families and parents of people with codependency issues have poor boundaries in the home and that continues to affect you as an adult. Other factors include:
Families that do not allow open expression of feelings. This is usually anger, fear, and shame.
Families that teach a child to ignore their needs. Often this is because the family is overwhelmed and unable to cope with the child’s needs.
A family member that has substance abuse issues or chronic illness, either medical or psychological
A child who experienced some sort of abuse including physical, emotional, or sexual.
Can I be Helped?
If you’re here reading this and have gotten this far, chances are that you believe you are codependent in at least 1 relationship in your life. I’m sure you’re asking yourself what you can do to help yourself now. The good news is that it is treatable and there are things you can do to improve your relationships and your overall sense of wellbeing. Co-dependents Anonymous is available as a support group and many, many people find it a helpful environment to learn and grow in. Another option is counseling which generally focuses on relationship patterns, resolving past trauma, and CBT to address unhealthy thought patterns.
Although co-dependency can affect you on many different levels in your life, there is hope that you can make changes that allow you to let these patterns go. If you’d like to talk with me further about this topic or to receive trauma treatment, please follow the link!