The most important sign of a codependent person is the need to be needed. They will do anything they can to achieve this because the feeling of being needed boosts their self-esteem. A codependent person finds it hard to make himself a priority. Many people with this trait start abusing alcohol, drugs, or nicotine and become addicted to them. Others develop compulsive behaviors like workaholism or indiscriminate sexual activity. The signs and symptoms of a codependent person may include:
- Denial about being codependent
- Intense fear of being rejected or judged by others
- Reactive/defensive to everyone’s opinions and thoughts
- The need to be taken care of by another person and vice versa
- Obsessive about other people and relationships
- The need for others to like you in order for you to be okay with yourself
- Low self-esteem
- People pleasing
- The need to take care of others
- The need to be in control
- Difficulty with intimacy
- Intense fear of being alone
- Putting the other person’s needs above their own
- Feeling like they cannot live without a person
- Having rigid expectations of what they think will make them happy
- Losing sense of boundaries
- Participating in things that go against their best interest
- Feeling stuck, trapped, or unclear how to make a change
- Loss of own sense of identity and desire
- Feeling guilty for asking for help or having wants and needs
- Being afraid of being rejected or mocked
- Difficulty trusting others
- Struggling to voice feelings even to close relatives or a spouse
- Taking responsibility for other people’s actions and feelings
- Always giving people another chance, even when they have repeatedly hurt or abused
- Difficulty making decisions
- Looking for others to tell them how they should feel or think
How can I overcome codependency behavior?
The very first step to solving a problem is identifying it. If an individual wants to dissolve the codependent behaviors, below is a short list of action items that may be helpful:
- Accept that you have a problem.
- Begin a daily meditation/mindfulness practice that works for you.
- Establish a strong, centered relationship with yourself.
- Learn how to take care of yourself first.
- Identify what you want in your life.
- Cultivate a sense of self-confidence and self-worth to believe you are worthy of your desires.
- Ser your boundaries: what you will and will not tolerate.
- Understand setting limits does not make anyone a bad person.
- Understand paying attention to one’s own needs does not make a person anything less.
- Understand taking charge of your codependent behavior is not the same thing as abandoning someone for whom you are solely and fully responsible.
- Nurture your wants, and view yourself as reliant, smart, and capable.
- Eliminate abusive and enabling behavior. Practice awareness, change, and growth to overcome unhealthy relationship habits.
- Seek professional assistance.
Does professional therapy help?
Professional therapy helps those who are involved in codependent relationships. Often, codependence stems from childhood emotional abuse and dysfunctional family ties. The child who has parents with substance abuse problems, a disability, social anxieties, or manipulative nature develop codependence as a coping strategy. Unlearning these behaviors needs counseling. If codependency occurs within the family, then family counseling or marriage counseling will be valuable. It is common for people to feel embarrassed about needing help. However, if you are in this situation you must try to overcome such feelings because help and support are required. Therapists will help to work through issues and get relationships back on the right track. If these issues ring a bell, then talk to a professional and begin your recovery.