A person is said to be co-dependent when they overly rely on another person for their happiness and emotional needs. They pursue this external source of fulfilment instead of focusing on themselves primarily. Co-dependents engage in self-sacrifice and subjugation. They often put their needs behind the needs of their partner and this makes the relationship very difficult to sustain in the long term.
Co-dependents possess low self-worth
Behind co-dependency is a core belief of not being worthy unless the co-dependent person is being valuable and useful to others. As a ‘stand-alone’ person they do not tends to appreciate their innate value. So they continue to give and sacrifice in the hopes that others will show them the validation they crave. The problems come in when dynamic of give-take becomes accepted. The person doing the receiving becomes accustomed to this interaction in the relationship and the co-dependent becomes frustrated at the lack of appreciation being shown. This then triggers their core belief that they are not worthy and along comes the accompanying unhappiness and anxiety.
Signs of being co-dependent:
- People pleasing
- Self Worth defined by others
- Relationships disproportionately important (especially romantic relationships)
- Difficult in saying “no” and /or establishing healthy boundaries with others
What to do if you think you might be co-dependent:
Turn the focus back on yourself. Remind yourself that gaining self respect and self worth through the confirmation and behaviour of others is a very precarious method, one that you have very little control over. Take back your sense of self and start loving and doing for yourself as much as you have done for others in the past. At first this may feel odd, even fake, but it is vital to acknowledge your own positive attributes and develop a stronger sense of yourself.
You are more than just a “useful person to have around” or someone who is “great with gift giving and helping others”. Examine your beliefs about having to DO something to feel worthy.
Tell yourself regularly that you are loveable as you are – just standing there breathing. You don’t need to do anything to feel worthy and love yourself. Try new activities, go out and have fun.
The more you develop your own sense of worth that no one else can take away, the less co-dependent you will become.