When you love someone, do you feel responsible for their choices? When you’re in a relationship, do you feel overly responsible for the other person’s decisions and actions?
Do you ever feel like you’re doing more than your share of the work (overgiving or overdoing)? Do you feel like the other person’s outcome is your outcome? Do you find yourself in relationships with people who need saving?
If you’re nodding your head yes, then today’s episode is for you. In it, I’ll be talking about what a codependent relationship is, the symptoms and signs of codependency, and things you can do to be healthier and more fulfilled in all of your relationships.
A codependent relationship is a very specific kind of dynamic. As a recovering codependent myself, I know that when you’re in it, it feels like everything you’re doing for others is to be helpful, loving, and giving. But if you often feel exhausted, depleted, and maybe even resentful because you find yourself over-functioning and trying to control choices and outcomes for others, I invite you to keep reading.
Symptoms of codependent behavior can look like you feeling overly responsible for other people’s happiness, whether that’s your partner, your children, your friends or even a coworker. It can look like doing things for others and overgiving because you are seeking approval outside of yourself. Codependency can show up as over-involvement in others’ wants, desires, decisions, and drama.
In my last post, I talked about secondary gain and gave you strategies (and a cheat sheet!) to help you get to the bottom of what you’re gaining from staying stuck in any kind of unhealthy situation. Secondary gain absolutely comes into play when it comes to codependent relationships. If you find yourself always having to “save” someone in your life with a broken wing, ask yourself: what am I gaining from this?
It could be that the interaction makes you feel important, needed or helps you to feel like you’re in control. The truth is that when we over-involve ourselves and over-function in a relationship (even if we have the best intentions), what we’re doing is robbing that other person of the consequences of their own actions–that’s how we learn as human beings. However, when you’re in a situation like this, it becomes a dance of over-functioner and under-functioner, and that isn’t helping anyone.
Do you feel like you’re doing more and giving more than you should be?
As in, are you doing things for other people in your life that they really should be doing for themselves? If you’re still doing your kid’s laundry at 30, take a closer look at your behavior and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Infantilizing your teenagers or adult children may come from your desire for them to continue to need you when they’re grown, and that’s not healthy.
Another red flag of codependency is that your mood is directly impacted by the people in your life. Here’s an example: let’s say you’re in a great mood and your partner (or your cranky teenager) comes home in a rotten mood. Does your great mood go out the window? Do you immediately shift into “fix it” mode? Like it’s your responsibility to make them feel happy again?
When you’re codependently attached to someone, you might make excuses for their bad behavior. I call this, “The Lies We Tell Ourselves,” and it can be a slippery slope if you’re in a relationship with a person with addictive personality traits or behaviors. These lies could be telling yourself about things like, “Oh…it’s not that bad” or “He/She doesn’t drink that much…” or “He/She had a really bad day…”, or covering for them at work if they don’t show up or continually bailing them out (sometimes literally). Enabling action is born out of codependency.
You might feel like you’re protecting the ones you love, but if any of these scenarios resonate with you, I want to tell you that continuing to do so many things that you don’t want to do but feel like you must do and never saying anything about it is not doing a service to you or the relationship or the other person.
What ends up happening is that there’s only one place that all of this behavior can lead to. It leads to bitterness. It leads to having the martyr syndrome because you’re giving from an unhealthy place. It isn’t giving because you’re being loving, it’s giving because you’re driven to control the outcome and the experience for another person. It isn’t yours to control. I don’t want you to continue down this path and basically sacrifice your life in this way.
So what can you do to heal?
If you haven’t yet, please watch this week’s video above. I promise you, it’s full of my best insights on stepping out of the codependency dance and stepping into the kind of healthy behavior that will vastly improve the quality of your relationships and your life.
Then, I’ve created a worksheet for you with my very best tips for healing from codependent relationships, and you can download it right here. It covers everything from finding the original injuries to taking inventory of the things you want to stop doing for others, to resources for getting help, to raising your boundary IQ so you can start to say no with ease and grace.
It is possible to get healthier and to be healthier in a relationship. It doesn’t mean you have to end the relationship as there are changes you can implement that will alter your 50% of the relationship dance, so even though it may seem a little overwhelming to make changes, just know that I got you. Just keep watching. Keep asking questions, keep reading, and know that you deserve healthy love. You are lovable right now. You are valuable right now in your life, no matter what you’ve experienced.
You don’t have to work yourself to death solving other people’s problems to be worthy of love.You’re worthy of love by simply existing. @terri_cole (Click to Tweet!)
You’re already here, so if you liked today’s episode, please share it with people in your life who you think might benefit from it.
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You’ve got this, and I’ve got you.
As always, take care of you,