Someone on my other website requested more information about codependency. Codependency is much harder to recognize than most other addictions. Here’s a really simplistic description: Codependents have a hard time loving themselves so they need others to fill that void for them. Here’s a list of 10 things that may be signs that you rely on other people for your sense of fulfillment.
- We act differently around different people.
o Codependents usually don’t have a strong sense of self. We don’t really like ourselves so rely on other people to like us. So we will mirror the behavior of the people we are around.
- We let people talk down to us.
o Again since we don’t really like ourselves we may feel like we deserve to take abusive behavior from others and/or we may be afraid of confrontation. ( I’m not talking about a full on fight here). Some of us have had abusive relationships in our past that have left us afraid to speak up for ourselves out of fear of the reaction that we will get.
- We talk down to others.
o Not all codependents are passive, in fact even people who think they are too passive may find that they are abusive sometimes too when they get honest with themselves. (I’m raising my hand here). Some codependents talk down to others. My own experience with living with an active addict has shown me that sometimes I talk down to the person I love because I think if I Just say something to make him feel guilty enough they will stop and change. This has never worked, but that is where the insanity part comes in if you are familiar with the 12 steps. Now that I think about it I think I got this one from my mom!
- We try to control people or situations
o Some people know that they are control freaks, this all comes down to the fact that we don’t think others can take care of themselves and that they need our direction, and codependents need to be needed. When things don’t go our way we usually don’t react like mature adults. Have you ever freaked out because you didn’t get what you wanted and wonder: “Where did that come from?” If so there might be some things going on there from childhood that you haven’t healed from yet, you probably aren’t even aware of it. (More on your inner child in another post).
- We ‘go along’ with what others want.
o In other words we are people pleasers. I used to go along with whatever my boyfriend wanted to do even when I knew I didn’t really want to. I did this because I was afraid that he would leave if I didn’t. I have always had a fear of being alone, I have pretty much always been in a relationship. Codependents don’t feel loveable or worthwhile so once we find someone we latch on.
- We give unsolicited advice.
o We may feel the need to give everybody our input whether they ask for it or not. We need people to listen to us so we can feel smart, wise and so we can say ‘I told you so’. We have a hard time just listening. This makes us feel needed and better than others.
- We feel the need to take care of others.
o This falls under the category of needing to be needed. For example, some parents get depressed when the children leave the house, without anybody to take care of their lives seem to have less meaning. Some of us take care of others at our own expense. Helping others is a good thing but only if you are able to and if you don’t have ulterior motives, or expect anything in return (like for people to like you or love you more).
- We judge others and gossip.
o We do this because it makes us feel superior. Start paying attention to the kinds of negative things you notice in people. I can almost guarantee that the things you react to in others are characteristics or qualities of yourself that you don’t like.
- We have to ‘keep up with the jones’’.
o Some codependents need to have nice things so that others will perceive them as successful and like they have it all together. Needing to have nice things is always a cover up for something deeper. When we need to appear successful in the eyes of others we don’t believe people will like us for who we are. After getting sober and working on my codependency I started to get the shopping bug because I know that getting nice things makes me feel good for a minute. That’s about it. A few minutes… Then I usually regret the purchase. It’s the same thing as stuffing your face with a pile of chocolate when you are depressed, or smoking this or that, or drinking. It is filling an empty space.
- We are indecisive
o We don’t trust ourselves to make good decisions, because we think that we are not good enough, smart enough, etc. With certain decisions, we may ask everyone we know for their advice. I’m not really talking about standing in the toothpaste aisle for 15 minutes. I mean harder decisions like should I stay in this relationship or not, should I go back to school, should I change jobs…
These are some things that I have noticed in myself and we may not see some of these are harmful behaviors if it isn’t causing a lot of trouble in our lives. You may have also said to yourself ‘who doesn’t do these things?’. I believe just about everybody in the world is at least kind of codependent. In some cases though, it is downright destructive.