This post was inspired by Darlene Lacey of Dummies.com
If you wonder whether you may be codependent, you’re not alone. Different types of people may behave in a codependent manner, and codependence manifests in varying degrees of severity.
Not all codependents are unhappy, while others live in pain or quiet desperation.
Codependency is not something you heal from and are forever done with, but you can enjoy yourself, your life, and your relationships. Should you choose to embark on recovery, you’re beginning an exciting and empowering journey.
Determining If You’re Codependent
If you’re wondering if you’re codependent, take a look at the following list of symptoms. You don’t have to have all of them to be codependent, and there are degrees of severity of codependence. If untreated, codependency gets worse over time, but with help you can recover and be much more effective in your work and relationships. Here are some common traits:
- Low self-esteem
- Not liking or accepting yourself
- Feeling you’re inadequate in some way
- Thinking you’re not quite enough
- Worrying you are or could be a failure
- Concerned with what other people think about you
- Boundaries that are too weak and there’s not enough separateness between you and your partner
- Boundaries that are too rigid and keep you from being close
- Boundaries that flip back and forth between too close and too rigid
- Difficulty expressing thoughts and feelings
- Difficulty setting boundaries — saying “No” or stopping abuse
- Abusive language
- Lack of assertiveness about your needs
- Afraid of being alone or out of a relationship
- Feeling trapped in a bad relationship and unable to leave
- Relying too much on others opinions
- Avoidance of closeness
- Losing yourself
- Trying to control or manipulate others
- Denial of codependency
- Denial about a painful reality in your relationship
- Denial of your feelings
- Denial of your needs
- Care taking
- Controlling your own feelings
- Managing and controlling people in your life; telling them what to do
- Manipulating others to feel or behave like you want (people pleasing is a manipulation)
- Addiction to a substance or process
Reducing Stress through Relaxation
The key to overcoming codependency is relaxing and building a loving relationship with yourself. At Harvard Medical School, Dr. Herbert Benson developed a type of relaxation that doesn’t require any spiritual beliefs, but was very effective to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and anger. It’s called the Relaxation Response. Try it and if you like it do it every day.
- Sit in a relaxed position, and close your eyes.
- Starting at your toes and progressing to your face, relax each muscle, and keep them relaxed.
- Breathe normally through your nose, and repeat “one” silently with each inhale and again with each exhale. Do not control your breath.
- Do this daily for 10 to 20 minutes, and take a few minutes before returning to normal activities.