Like many psychological terms co-dependence is thrown around with perhaps little understanding. Co-dependence is considered a disorder that involves psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition, typically some type of addiction; and in broader terms, it refers to the dependence on the needs of, or control of, another. It also often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. How many times have we seen this type of scenario on LMN or some other type of television show or series. The typical story is that of the housewife that succumbs to the alcohol or drug abusing , work-a-holic husband who they both believe (or is) is the breadwinner and head of the household so he holds all of the reins of a satisfactory life. With this decided status he chooses to attempt to exert control, while she passively stands by and accepts the abuse dished to her. In some cases this may be the accepted norm of the traditional relational situation.
I use a male/female relationship only as an example, and while I refer to the husband/wife scenario above, co-dependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships. Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, or control patterns.
With many of my postings, I am indebted to psychcentral.com for their wealth of information at just the right times. They provide several facts of a co-dependent behavior. These are:
- taking responsibility f or someone else’s actions
- worrying or carrying the burden f or others’ problems
- covering up to protect others f rom reaping the consequences of their poor choices
- doing more than is required at your job or at home to earn approval
- feeling obligated to do what others expect without consulting one’s own needs
- manipulating others’ responses instead of accepting them at f ace value
- being suspicious of receiving love, not f eeling “worthy” of being loved in a relationship based on need, not out of mutual respect
- trying to solve someone else’s problems, or trying to change someone
- life being directed by external rather than internal cues (“should do” vs. “want to do”)
- enabling someone to take our time or resources without our consent
- neglecting our own needs in the process of caring for someone who does not want to care for themselves
With all of the technical stuff mentioned, I would like to introduce who I believe is a leader for publications in this field: Melody Beattie. In my world she is the pioneer in exploring this concept. If there has been any reason for those wondering about this concept and have not read Codependent No More, it is time to read it. It was written several years ago, but I will guarantee that it will move you. If not, please feel free to give me negative feedback on this post.
The key to repairing and ending codependency is to start protecting and nurturing ourselves. That might sound like a selfish act, but it will return us to a place of balance. Others will understand that we now respect and are protecting ourselves from over commitment or abuse. An interesting thing about the mention of balance, it is the nature of species and the environment to continually strive to achieve balance. Right?