When codependency became an official term in the 1970s, its original aim was to understand family dynamics when one person is struggling with alcoholism. Codependency is often considered synonymous with the term “enabler”; however, in the past couple of decades, the definition of what is considered codependent behavior has been widely expanded. Read on to learn how to understand codependency.
Ask yourself if you’re in an abusive relationship. These include relationships that seem unbalanced, wherein you give constantly and get little in return, or where you feel belittled, abused either verbally, physically or sexually. One big clue is if you’re involved with an addict and believe you can help “fix” him by covering for him and cleaning up his messes when he makes mistakes.
Understand that codependency is about valuing the approval of others over yourself and who you want to be. You can’t seem to say no or stand up for yourself against those who seem to be in authority over you. Codependency may also result in feeling like you don’t know yourself, or feelings of insecurity and depression.
Stop focusing on trying to make everything perfect. Realize you’re not the only person in the situation responsible for its success or failure. Understand that your belief that no one else can do things right and your desire to manage and control aren’t born out of love but rather a desire to be appreciated and acknowledged. If you’re often upset because your efforts haven’t garnered the praise you thought they would, this may be a sign that you don’t make sacrifices to fulfill others but because you feel you need approval from others.
Identify your codependency issues with the help of counseling or support groups. Undoing codependency can be liberating. You’ll learn how to value yourself and your needs, how to relax and enjoy life more. Also, you’ll learn how to avoid getting involved in future relationships that support a codependent dynamic.
Take all this with a grain of salt. If you’re not in the position of living with an addict or abuser, you might not be truly codependent. Since the expansion of the definition, it has become easier for people to identify themselves as codependent. Hard-working moms will probably feel some of the symptoms of codependency, functioning marriages also need a certain degree of codependency to function, and some argue the definition is so broad today that pretty much everyone can feel codependent at times. But if you’re unhappy, unsafe and unfulfilled on a daily basis, you should evaluate your situation and seek help.