Dr. Monica Vaskey
Codependency refers to pain caused by the sufferings we encounter during childhood but becomes expressed in adulthood, leading to a higher chance of compulsive/addictive behavior and relationship problems. Codependency can be attributed to specific feelings and behaviors, resulting in an aversive relationship full of self-loathing and self-sacrificial behaviors.
Codependency is a pattern of sacrificing your needs, well-being, and self-care and putting much of your energy into enabling or supporting the people in your life. If you have been unable to change your situation for a while, codependent thoughts and behaviors require mindful self-care and self-love.
- You find yourself depending on other people’s lives.
- If you tend to put your partner’s needs and wants before your own.
- Will do anything to make their person happy.
- Relying on a partner to meet most of your needs.
- Lacks your own identity.
- Choosing partners that you want to “fix” to feel valued.
- Distress when there is a shift in communication.
- Lack of personal boundaries, taking on the responsibility for your partner’s happiness.
Understanding the difference between unhealthy and healthy behaviors and going through all the necessary steps can lead you to finally conquering codependency. Having emotional needs within the framework of a partnership is healthful, and being capable of expressing and receiving these needs is a critical part of a secure, successful connection.
You have to ask yourself if you are making requests based on what you want in a connection, or is it because of your anxieties, lack of self-esteem, and fear the relationship would not work out? You should not need your companion to feel good about yourself, but you should be vulnerable and able to depend on your partner, that is interdependent.
When we are in an interdependent relationship, there is a mutual give-and-take of trust, emotional support, and intimacy. We want to know if we can rely on our partner. But if the expectations evolve into enmeshment, the bond can become codependent. Bottom line, God takes second place, and pride can blind you from seeing your sin as God sees it.
Characteristics of interdependent behaviors.
- Dependence on partners for some things, but not all things.
- Having clear boundaries.
- Managing disappointment if a disagreement occurs.
- Having a healthy sense of self outside of the relationship.
From the beginning of time, humans were created for interdependence and relationships. God created the first pattern of relationship for mankind. As societies were formed, the concept of human interdependence played out in larger groups.
Over time within a community, people relied on one another to function, and interdependency still formed the basis for any people group, which continues today. Not only is interdependence foundational to societal living, but it is also God’s intention for all Christians.
The first step to dealing with codependency in your relationships is learning the difference between unhealthy interdependent and healthy behaviors. A healthy interdependent relationship has mutual respect and no power imbalance. You can lean on your partner for support but can still maintain your identity as a unique individual.
If you see codependent characteristics in your relationship, it may be time to shift and assess the need to move into interdependency. Making self-care a priority by valuing yourself and giving yourself love and compassion is necessary. Get back to doing things you have always enjoyed and honor your needs, wants, and feelings by engaging in hobbies and activities you love and nurturing your social relationships.
Codependent relationships can cause a person to isolate themselves from others; by reaching out to the people you may have distanced yourself from, you can rebuild those relationships. Learning to create, set, and maintain boundaries is crucial for any healthy relationship, and getting comfortable and setting boundaries is essential.
Therapy for codependency.
Therapy can help you analyze codependent tendencies. In therapy, you can learn to recognize and accept emotions they may have repressed. Therapy can also help you understand why codependent patterns developed in the past and how these patterns have transferred to other relationships.
Healing from codependence takes time. Learning the main signs of codependency is an excellent starting place. However, speaking with a therapist may assist you in exploring and assessing your sense of self-worth so you can better acknowledge the reasons why you came to depend so much on another person.
Additionally, therapy can:
- Teach you how to set personal boundaries to avoid codependent relationships in the future.
- Help you acknowledge specific behavior patterns to determine how to change the behaviors for healthier alternatives.
- Help you change irrational thoughts, so you can learn how to tolerate uncomfortable emotions.
Put yourself first and honor your wants, needs, and feelings. Learning self-compassion is often an essential part of recovery. In therapy, you may practice being kind to yourself and forgiving your own mistakes. Over time, your drive to overcompensate may lessen.
A therapist can also help you improve your relationships with others. They may teach you how to support others without enabling destructive behaviors and help you work on practicing being assertive. Codependent people can also benefit from meeting with peers in a support or group therapy setting.
Learn to say no when necessary.
One major challenge for a codependent person to do is to say no. They are used to putting others; first; they may need to recognize when their needs are met. The person may worry that saying “no” will fracture the relationship with others. Yet having healthy boundaries can benefit all relationships. When people communicate clearly what they do or do not want, there is less chance of misinterpretation.
Saying “no” can also help someone prioritize their time and energy on the tasks that matter to them. Over time, the who is codependent may develop more energy and a better mood and more energy. These types of changes can improve the relationship as a whole. Boundaries can vary depending on one’s needs.
God said, “For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:30). The key is God’s boundaries for our lives are meant to give us purpose or direction. Boundaries keep us on his path – the path we were created to follow. This is why we want God involved in setting personal boundaries for us.
Communicating simple boundaries can improve trust and help both parties feel secure. God said it is not good for man to be alone. We were created for a relationship. But when you give more to a relationship than the other person is giving or willing to give, you should assess if you are in a codependent relationship.
Codependency, the biblical perspective.
They are about learning how to speak the truth in love, express your preferences, and be ok with it, even if the other person is not. Deciding how much you are willing to give to a relationship is healthy.
To heal from codependency, you must accept and acknowledge that you will not have what you wished the relationship would be. God gave you a unique purpose and identity, and that purpose does not include changing others. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. It is also essential to learn your unique qualities.
Your identity does not lie in what others think of you or need from you. Your identity lies in who God created you to be. Jesus set boundaries with needy people by going to a quiet place alone to pray.
In conclusion, emotional needs within a relationship are healthy and normal, especially when you have honest and transparent conversations where the other person respects you and makes changes so your needs can be met. However, it can become codependent when you ask for these things out of a desire to find self-worth or affirmation.
Through a counseling relationship with a Christian counselor, we will work together to understand, develop awareness and view relationships through a new lens.
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