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Are You a Codependent?

Are You a Codependent?

What does it mean to be codependent?

Codependency is one of the most complicated concepts to understand. Many well meaning therapists and psychologists have tried to explain codependency and often it’s ended up muddying the waters rather than providing clarity.

Let’s start with what a codependent is not.

A codependent is not:

  1. Someone who is dependent on other people
  2. Someone who can’t stand up for themselves or lacks assertiveness
  3. Someone who tries to control other people

(These are overly simplistic definitions that do not see the whole picture.)

A better definition of codependency:

  1. Someone who has a core sense of loneliness because of past attachment traumas (Think: Alcoholic caregivers, absent, narcissistic or somehow selfish caregivers who are in their own world and not tending to their child’s needs).
  2. Someone who has been forced to mold themselves into the kind of person that their caregiver needs (a good listener, an overly compliant, overly responsible hard worker, a people pleaser, a great student, a babysitter for the younger children or even for the parent)
  3. Someone who puts their own needs second in favor of someone else’s needs (usually this starts because the selfish parent isn’t tuned in on the child’s needs. So, how else would a relationship happen unless the child learns to cater?)
  4. Someone who finds that other people aren’t respecting them and they aren’t sure how they are contributing to this problem. (They keep trying different things, including assertive communication – but it doesn’t work!)
  5. Someone who stays with selfish people too long and doesn’t leave or minimize contact because they don’t see the problem where it really is (they keep blaming themselves instead!)
  6. Someone who keeps going to the selfish people and “explaining the problem to them” hoping it will work. When it doesn’t, they end up feeling worse.
  7. Someone who overworks. They become overly responsible, overly independent and overly conscientious. They don’t have experience with others carrying their own weight.
  8. Someone who doesn’t have practice or experience using their anger and have their anger actually work for them!  (Imagine telling someone your feelings, they apologize and actually stop doing the upsetting thing. That’s an example of anger working the way it’s supposed to.)
  9. Someone who denies the people around them are selfish or not tuned in. They may deny that others are capable of treating them well. They may be in denial as its too painful.)

Codependency is an adaptation to a very painful childhood. If you learn to be a good kid, not making much noise or asking for anything, you are praised and have an easier time. The problem comes in adulthood when you pick similar people as partners who don’t help/underwork.

Other kids can communicate their needs. Other kids don’t have to try to be perfect. Other kids get to use their anger and say, “No, I don’t want to …” and nothing terrible happens.

Codependency treatment means relearning so that you see the blame where it goes, limiting your time and effort on people who don’t reciprocate and it also means learning to love yourself as you are right now – without having to put in so much effort.

Have a great week. If you are looking for a therapist to help you explore your patterns, click here:


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Free Clear Mind Therapy provides in-person therapy in Fishers & Indianapolis and online therapy across Indiana. Specializing in anxiety therapy for teens, adults, and kids.

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