What is Co-Dependency?
Co-dependency is a little-understood trait which is defined as a compulsion to take care of others, wanting to “fix” them, whilst neglecting the self.
Co-dependents tend to live their life through, or for, others. Because of this they can tend to be controlling and will be apt to blame others rather than taking personal responsibility.
It is common in those who come from dysfunctional families and their parents may be addicts of some kind, ie alcohol or drugs.
Depression, anxiety, dysfunctional relationships and a high or low activity level are common in co-dependents. There may also be physical problems associated with the condition such as stomach problems, migraines, general malaise and skin problems.
Common characteristics of co-dependents:
Taking care of others at the expense of self
Unable to trust own feelings
An overdeveloped sense of responsibility for others
Guilt (a feeling of not doing enough for others)
No clear boundaries
Not taking responsibility for own actions
Difficulty in maintaining relationships
Resentment of authority
Fear of anger
Enjoys drama in their lives
Confusion between love and pity
Compulsion to ”fix” or “rescue” others
Rigidity and the need to control
Lies when easy to tell the truth
Poor relationship choices
Strong sense of injustice for others but a disregard to those done to self
Difficulty in receiving
A sense of self derived from others
Accepting abuse to avoid loneliness
Non-assertive with regard to their own needs
Avoidance of feelings
Problems with intimacy
Heightened awareness of threat/danger
A resistance to having fun
They will often look for victims to help and will go to great lengths to “protect” them, ie lie for them, give them money, clear up after them or put them to bed even when they have been abused by them. This is colluding with the problem and only serves to exacerbate it.
Tips for overcoming co-dependency
Allow others to take the consequences of their own actions – be supportive of others but not responsible for them
Identify your own needs and fulfil them
Start to be responsible for your own life and actions
Become aware of your own feelings and what they are trying to tell you – ie, if you are angry, ask yourself what isn’t fair? Then take actions to remedy the situation without controlling others
Take care of yourself
Let go of the need to be involved in “fixing” others’ lives
Find things about yourself that you can love
Be clear of your boundaries and others’ boundaries
Find out what makes you happy
It is fairly difficult not to be co-dependent to some degree in our society but the measure is to what degree is it colluding with others’ problems and to what degree is it denying your own needs?
How Can Hypnotherapy Help?
Hypnotherapy can help deal with the underlying cause of the co-dependency and help you to understand your own needs and feelings and deal with those in a more constructive way. It can help you to establish healthier ways of interacting with others, yourself and the world, as well as giving you the confidence and assertiveness to build a fulfilling life not dependant on others.
Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself, M Beattie (San Francisco, Harper)
Secret Language of Feelings, Cal Banyan. Available from Tricia Woolfrey