10 Signs of Codependency: Identifying Problematic Thinking

As mentioned in an earlier post, “I Don’t Have A Dream“, codependent tendencies can have a huge impact on how we live our lives. It can negatively impact how we feel about ourselves, limit our self-worth, and cause us to live small instead of pursuing our dreams and living each day to its full and joyful potential. It causes us to hide ourselves from the people that care about us, and can keep us from showing up in the world. So, how can we get over this? Can we? I belive there is hope! Let’s begin by first taking a look at what codependency is.

Codependency can be defined as simply as “the need to be needed” by those we are in relationships with. Codependency can be observed in romantic, familial, and friendly relationships. The result of fulfilling our need to be needed is the linkage of our identity and worth to the perceptions of other people. Clearly, this is a pattern that can spell trouble for those of us seeking happy and secure relationships. But it can also keep us from being true with ourselves and limit what we are willing to pursue.

In my experience, it has been often difficult to recognize the unhealthy relational tendecnies linked to codependency. In her video, Are You Codependent? Here are 11 Key Symptoms to Look For and How To Recover, therapist Julia Kristina shares some of signs to help us recognize codependency in action:

1) You feel responsible for solving other people’s problems.

If you cannot “fix” their problems, you fear they may leave you. This fear stems from the belief that your ability to fix their problems is the only valuable thing you bring to the relationship.

2) You find it very difficult, if not impossible to say “no”.

You may feel that the survival of the relationship is entirely up to you. Therefore, if you say “no”, you may feel that it is your “fault” that the relationship is in trouble, or that it ends.

3) You are often upset, bitter, or resentful…

…when you feel that others are not praising and recognizing all that you do for them. You may feel taken advantage of because you are giving so much of yourself for little or no recognition.

4) You need to feel like you are in control all the time.

You avoid conflict by giving in to the wants or needs of others even when it is uncomfortable for you. You put your own needs aside because you feel they are less valuable than the needs of others. It is possible that you avoid conflict for fear that the other person will leave you if you are not fulfilling all of their needs.

5) You have difficulty trusting yourself.

You worry that if you make a mistake, people are going to abandon you. You feel the need to keep everything together for yourself and those you care about. You feel like it is all on you to get it right all the time.

6) You feel the need to save or fix others.

You feel that your only value in a relationship comes from your ability to save or fix the other person. You may feel as though it is your responsibility to clean up their messes for them.

7) You may be willing to do unsafe or destructive things…

…to hold onto the relationship. This may stem from the belief that you cannot survive alone.

8) You struggle to assert yourself.

You struggle to assert your own wants, needs, preferences, and boundaries in a relationship. You may feel guilty or selfish for setting boundaries, and fear that if you assert yourself, the other person may become angry or leave you.

9) You may struggle to identify your own feelings.

This can complicate knowing what our own wants and needs are, making it even more difficult to assert them. You are used to immersing yourself into fulfilling the needs of others and may have lost knowledge of your own needs in the process. We may lose a sense of understanding about who we are as an individual because our identity has been tied up in fulfilling the needs of others.

10) You are drawn to people who are likely to need you.

These individuals may be facing a crisis, sickness, a financial issue, or addiction, or are just very needy.

Outlining some key symptoms is certainly a helpful first step to tackling this issue. As with any important pursuit, it will take time and effort to address areas of struggle. But it will be so worth it! And remember – No matter how lonely you may feel in this, you are never alone. I’m in this boat with you, and I can guarantee many others are too! Keep on keeping on, my dear. You are one step closer to getting it together!

Photo credit: unsplash-logoPablo Heimplatz

“I Don’t Have A Dream”: How We May Have Lost Our Dreams & Where to Find Them

We know that if we want to “make it” we are going to have to hustle. Tons of great advice in the form of books, articles, podcasts, you name it, is out there to help us achieve our dreams. Our internet search bars quickly lead us to useful “how to” pages. As we pursue lives of fulfilment, whether that be through entrepreneurship, personal growth and inspiration, or general strategies for high achievement, our internet ads become littered with information on these topics. Much of the information is even free! Imagine that!

Over the course of years I’ve taken advantage of this access to information and inspiration. I’m ready to hustle! I’ve come to understand the importance of a solid daily routine, including setting my alarm for the same time early each morning. But when that alarm goes off, I often find myself wondering,

“What exactly am I getting up for?”

“What exactly am I pursuing, directing my energy toward?”

Inevitably, the lack of a clear vision has me hitting the snooze button. There are some great resources for tackling this issue. Gaining clarity when it comes to a vision for our lives is possible!

But, I’ve come up against a tiny (but giant) problem. Once I think I might have it all figured out, and I’m so excited to get started, I think,

“What if my loved ones are upset by what I’m trying to achieve?”

“What if my dreams are an inconvenience to them?”

Though a variety of insecurities may arise, I imagine these concerns are not typical for most dream-seekers. But for those of us who have a history with co-dependency, such concerns may stop us from even letting ourselves think about pursuing what really brings us joy.

In fact, it may be easier for us to throw ourselves into somone else’s dream, rather than to clearly recognize our own.

This odd phenomenon became clear to me when discussing the future with a friend the other day and they asked me, “What do you want?” I struggled to answer in any meaningful way. My immediate response was to rattle off reasons for doing things I think I should, or because it would make the most sense. Maybe some part of me was also afraid of what they would think. Most importantly, I legitimately did not feel that I had a solid answer.

I don’t know what I want. I don’t have a dream.

I refuse to believe this is the truth. Bullsh** questions like the two listed above caused me to bury myself away so that someone else can shine. This is false humility. If you think this is a good quality, think again.

The world needs you – the real you. Not the you trying to be someone else.

It’s suffocating and exhausting to live that way. I found myself feeling as though I was working hard, burning myself out, and simply spinning my tires while getting nowhere. Perhaps this wasn’t really true. But this feeling reflected subconscious knowledge that I was not moving toward what would bring my own heart a sense of fulfillment.

If you are struggling with this as I have, I’m certain there is a way forward. I have found journaling to be a wonderful tool for honest self-analysis. Here are some prompts which might be useful in discovering who we really want to be; What we really like and what we want to do:

  1. When I find myself with spare time, what do I usually find myself doing that brings me joy?
  2. When not occupied by work, tasks, distractions, where do I find my mind drifts off to? What do I daydream about?
  3. What is the feeling I seek to live in? What gives me this feeling?

Writing a journal, or even sharing your answers with a trusted friend can be so freeing, and super helpful when seeking clarity about your dreams. This is one practical step we can take to move forward. We can find greater clarity, and we can get it together.

Photo credit: unsplash-logoCody Black