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Am I Codependent?

Feeling unworthy and relying on external validation are signs that you need to heal your relationship with yourself.

  1. Low self-esteem, going to extreme measures to help others, and over-dependence on the approval of others indicate issues with codependency.
  2. Codependency can manifest in feeling like a victim, being dependent on others, needing to rescue others to feel good about yourself, or unreasonable hostility/aggression.
  3. People who struggle with codependency often experienced early abuse, trauma, insecure attachment, exposure to addiction, or inappropriate role models growing up. 
  4. Skilled guidance can help you heal from codependency, build yourself up, and create a truly meaningful and fulfilling life

Do you struggle with codependency?

If you struggle with feeling unworthy or unloveable and consistently neglect to take care of yourself, you might have codependency issues. Codependency is where you develop a dysfunctional relationship or over-dependence on another person, substance, or behavior as a way to manage an unhealthy relationship with yourself

Close-up rear view of the calves of a person wearing jeans walking through a brown field towards the setting sun, illustrating the concept that Skilled guidance can help you heal from codependency, build yourself up, and create a truly meaningful and fulfilling life.

Signs and symptoms of codependency

Codependence is a complex and sometimes subtle psychological condition that manifests in a number of different ways. It generally involves an excessive reliance on the approval and well-being of another person, often at the expense of your own needs.

Check yourself. How many of the common signs and symptoms of codependency apply to you?

  • Feeling unworthy, unlovable, or not good enough
  • Suppressing your own feelings/identifying primarily with the feelings and opinions of others
  • Poor communication skills due to fear of being judged, criticized, or rejected
  • Feeling responsible for others’ happiness and well-being 
  • Excessive generosity to help/take care of others
  • Feeling dependent on others’ validation for your self-esteem
  • Having an intense fear of rejection
  • Difficulty setting boundaries
  • Difficulty taking care of yourself
  • Feeling hypervigilant, stressed, or anxious most or all the time
  • An inability to relax and enjoy life

What causes codependency?

Codependence is caused by a combination of psychological, environmental, and interpersonal factors, primarily in the form of early dysfunctional relationships. Poor parental attachment and a lack of love and nurturing can cause you to go to extreme measures to seek validation as an adult.

Lack of healthy role models, an undefined sense of self, physical, emotional, sexual abuse, or other traumas can lead to unhealthy dependence on others’ approval as a way to feel secure in your own life.

Early exposure to addiction can lead you to perpetuate similar behaviors in your adult life. Children who feared abandonment, or experiencing significant physical or mental illness whereby they were heavily dependent on others for help (even in later life), can often lead to codependent behaviors as an attempt to find a sense of safety in unpredictable circumstances.

Recognizing and understanding codependency

Codependence is often characterized by:

  • A lack of secure identity is necessary to prioritize your own needs and feel good about yourself.
  • Going to extreme lengths to help and please others, often relying on external validation for your self-worth.
  • Depending on others to guide you about your identity and life direction, or to provide you with the skills you don’t think you have. 
  • Turning to addictive behaviors, such as drugs, food, sex, or alcohol to try to fill the emptiness of feeling insecure or incomplete in your sense of self as a person.

In this way, most codependents either identify primarily as a victim needing to be saved or told what to do or as a rescuer whose value is determined by their ability to help or rescue others from whatever they’re dealing with.

Infographic on codependency by DJ Burr, LMHC, covers signs, characteristics, and recovery steps including self-awareness, therapy, and setting boundaries. Highlights importance of self-worth and healthy relationships.

A lesser-known form of codependence is the role of the prosecutor, in which a person feels better about himself by hurting, demeaning, or controlling others. While this invariably results from abuse or maltreatment during childhood, perpetuating hostility or aggression towards others only continues an unhealthy cycle and perpetuates their own loneliness and misery.

Fortunately, there is help available!

Healing your relationship with yourself –and with others

To be able to love your life, you first need to develop a strong sense of self and learn to establish healthy boundaries that both protect you and enhance your relationships. By strengthening yourself and having healthy relationships, you’ll automatically be more able to have a deeply meaningful and satisfying life.

If you think you might have codependency issues, know that there is help available to help you heal and support you in your journey to have healthier relationships, with yourself and with others.

Online group therapy is a safe and affordable way to explore your struggles in a confidential and professionally guided forum to give you the tools and support you need to heal.

To access confidential and affordable online group therapy, phone 206-458-2556 or click here to start the process of healing your relationships and transform your life!

DJ is licensed in Washington, Georgia, Vermont, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina, and Oregon.