Mental Health America states that codependency can be passed down from generation to generation within dysfunctional families. This is often because dysfunctional families refuse to acknowledge that problems exist and as such, family members learn to repress their feelings and disregard their own needs. When this occurs, family members often “lose touch”, disconnect, and hide themselves away. If you are someone who has gone through this, you may have developed some habits of codependency. This can be incredibly dangerous, as it increases your risks for being in abusive relationships.
Psych Central has identified several characteristics of codependency, including:
- Low self-esteem
- People-pleasing behavior
- Poor boundaries and difficulty saying “no”
- Reacting instead of responding
- Need for control
- Dysfunctional communication
- Obsessing over other people or relationships
- Depending on others to like themselves
In a 2014 thesis study titled “An Exploration of the Experience of Codependency Through Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis”, several participants who identified as being codependent explained their self-views. One participant stated,
“Codependency, I think, is a way of losing yourself, my experience is that when you suffer from codependency you have no sense of … you have no ego, you have no agenda, you have no feelings, you have no right to have your wishes met, you are invisible, you don’t belong”.
Being in a codependent relationship means that you are not giving nor getting the respect that you deserve. It causes you to reject help from others because you don’t want to feel vulnerable. It distances you from yourself, because you shut down. However, it is possible to overcome this.
The Huffington Post notes several ways that you can reverse codependent tendencies. First, visualize yourself in a loving relationship filled with respect and appreciation. One where you can voice your concerns freely and exercise your boundaries, and that person will respect you. Next, challenge your self-defeating thoughts. Remind yourself each day that it’s okay to accept help when you need it, and don’t hold yourself back from experiencing an intimate, loving relationship. Overcoming the dysfunctional patterns that you have developed from childhood may be challenging and it may take some time, but it’s completely worth it, because you get you back. The you that deserves love, respect, kindness, appreciation, and all good things.
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