Many people who struggle with codependency may not know how to recognize it. While focusing on other people’s needs, feelings, and issues often seem like a good thing to do, it does not work out that way. Psychology Today points out that the condition occurs when codependents ignore their concerns. Signs of codependency can surprise anyone who may not realize the impact they have on mental health.
Identifying the Issue
Codependency behaviors can seem entirely normal until they become completely the opposite. At the center of the issue lies the problem of elevating other people in importance while failing to recognize one’s self-worth. The reward comes from feeling needed or loved by prioritizing caring for others. Codependents can obtain a feeling of worth by doing so. A healthier outlook allows everyone to know their feelings matter, their opinions deserve respect, and their worth equals anyone else’s. Some symptoms that may seem innocuous but have devastating effects include these:
Taking Responsibility for Everything
A sense of artificial importance can come from trying to manage every aspect of each event. When assuming a caretaker role, codependents take on the problems of others at great harm to themselves.
Lacking a Sense of Identity
Feelings of rejection or a lack of confidence can let codependents experience self-esteem from helping others. While not authentic, it can serve a temporary purpose.
Feeling Guilty or Ashamed
The ability to express hurt feelings or even anger represents a healthy lifestyle that eludes codependents. Suppressing the emotions offers an alternative but unsatisfactory alternative.
Finding Intimacy, Trust, and Open Communication Difficult
Codependents tend to have difficulty in clearly stating their wants or needs. As a result, they may find other ways to express themselves, such as bribing or making threats.
Inability to Set Boundaries
Emotional boundaries establish guidelines that prevent others from intruding into personal space. As an indication of self-worth, boundaries protect from harmful physical, emotional, or psychological effects imposed by others. Conversely, the lack of boundaries can allow behavior that an intruder may not realize can offend someone.
Preferring Not to Ask for Help
Ignoring personal issues and refusal to find solutions can allow codependents to present a rosy picture to casual observers. They may even believe it themselves when a poor self-image makes their problems seem unimportant.
Recovering from Codependency
Learning to minimize the harmful effects of codependency can take time as a gentle rebalancing process takes place. A willingness to consider one’s own needs as a matter of first importance can start the journey. However, as Robert Frost described the “road not taken,” gaining familiarity with it requires effort and a change in thinking. Recovery does not mean abandoning the needs of others, but it does require an adjustment of priorities. Taking care of oneself prevents feelings of resentment and unfulfillment in divorce or any other event in everyday life.
The healing process starts with claiming personal needs and asking for them. Feelings of martyrdom or victimhood hinder opportunities to set boundaries that prevent mistreatment. While standing up for oneself may present a new experience and probably does, it creates inner strength. For sure, it creates an opportunity for codependents to get to know themselves, a journey that provides incredible adventures and rewards. When suppression of values, likes, goals, and preferences kept them hidden, their emergence can bring a real feeling of freedom.
Taking Steps Toward Liberation
Minimizing codependency requires kindness that helps heal the injured spirit that has suffered more than enough. While codependent behavior often displays a self-critical, unforgiving, and harsh attitude, a kind and understanding approach can make a significant difference. A gentle and supportive manner builds confidence and acceptance, traits that codependents may have never had a chance to develop. As an end goal that reflects a successful journey away from codependency, self-compassion brings enormous rewards. Relief from stress may occur, and a sense of self-reliance can replace it. Motivation to try new things or change the approach to familiar events can significantly improve the quality of life.
As you start the process of recovering from codependency, remember that you can conquer it. While it may seem overwhelming at first, take pride in making small changes. Recovery does not need to come all at once. Remembering to go slowly as you find your way through unknown territory lets you enjoy your newfound freedom. Each day can provide a victory that helps you minimize codependency.
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