Codependence is a social and emotional concern characterized by a need to take care of others.
People who are codependent feel obligated to fix other people’s problems, and they rely upon playing that role. Codependency often creates unhealthy relationships that hurt patients’ feelings: as a caretaker, the codependent person sacrifices for someone else, only to have his feelings hurt if he was not sufficiently appreciated.
Codependency is often associated with people who continually care for an addicted spouse. In this case, those who are codependent cover up the addicts’ behaviors, or they lead addicts through consequences of the addiction.
Codependency may also occur in parenting situations, or when adults care for aging parents, but it is always a difficult problem to deal with, so seek professional support to recover.
Symptoms of Primary Codependency
While codependent people show unique traits, people with this condition also show many similar symptoms. The primary characteristic of codependency is caretaking, and it often causes many problems.
To manage everyone’s problems, codependent people often expend considerable effort on others while disregarding their own needs.
Other signs of codependency include the following examples:
- Controlling behavior
- Obsessive caretaking
- Illnesses due to stress
- Not wanting to deal with feelings
Stemming from the constant care taking of others, codependent people often feel victimized and unappreciated for the work they do. They may feel that others take advantage of them, particularly when they are not praised for the help they give.
How to Overcome Codependency
It is quite difficult to break codependency, but it is possible with the right help. Many codependent people do not know how to adjust their behaviors to balance their relationships, especially because they tend to think that they are in the right and that they know how to deal with problems. Since they operate from a position of being right, they often think behaviors that counter theirs are wrong.
The first step in overcoming codependency is to take an objective inventory about your thoughts and feelings:
- Are you really always right?
- Do you really know what is best for others?
This kind of pride can keep you from examining yourself critically, which will keep you from cutting the cord and suddenly discontinuing codependent behaviors.
Many codependent people need help when they seek to cut the cord, because they must learn to establish healthy relationships, which takes work. Because it takes considerable effort, seek help to begin your recovery.