What is codependency? In simple terms, it is a dishonest relationship. Dishonesty in honoring your truth or needs within yourself and with another person, situation, or circumstance. Although other psychosocial factors and addictions can contribute to complicating the relationship, it ultimately sifts to dishonesty.
The dishonesty may lead to behaviors such as feeling an obligation to take care of other’s needs and feelings above your own or expecting the other to take care of your needs and feelings above all else. Simply an imbalance of giving and taking derived from a sense of lack, expecting external elements to fill the lack. Typically, as an ‘over-giver’ you abandon yourself in the relationship and as an ‘over-taker’ you dominate and may even manipulate to get what you want. Codependency is not just associated with interpersonal relationships, but can include your relationship with illicit substances, money, your job, your environment, etc.
What spectrum of codependency resonates with you? Possibly both, but one tends to over shadow the other. I will discuss the difference.
If the ‘over-giver’ sounds familiar, then you are over dependent on others to feel needed, worthy, or loved. You become dependent on other people, situations, or circumstances to supply you with a sense of worth without learning to strengthen your worth from within. You tend to compromise your wellbeing for others. Eventually it catches up to you and you may begin to harbor feelings of anger and resentment, experience energetic depletion, or even become physically ill. These are cues you are out of balance. In pleasing and taking care of others it becomes more difficult for you to truly receive or may become confusing on identifying your actual needs.
The use of the term ‘over-giver’ is intentional because giving and caring is a form of love and does provide a sense of purpose and worth, but it depends on the energy fueling it. The question then becomes is the energy from a place of unconditional love and joy or from a place of lack, guilt (obligation), fear of abandonment, or unworthiness? Fear or lack energy will actually attract others or circumstances that manifest more fear and lack. Basically stating to the Universe that your needs and feelings don’t matter. Hence, you may attract dishonest, manipulative people or situations who expect you to take care of them or misuse your giving heart for their personal gain. A fear of abandonment tends to lead to these types of relationships and as a result you may abandon yourself during the process.
Signs you meet this type of codependency may include: feeling guilty for saying ‘no’ or ‘yes’ or feeling guilty for expressing your truth, feeling angry and resentment towards someone or a circumstance, or feeling depleted after interacting with another person or situation. It is quite beneficial to check in with your body and emotions. Your body is a superb alert system when there is an imbalance.
It is helpful to ask yourself a few of the following questions to strengthen your awareness. Is your body tense or relaxed when around certain people, situations, or environments? Do you have a heavy sinking feeling or dread when someone wants to spend time with you or a light, joyful feeling? Do you notice pains in your body such as in your shoulders, neck, or back, headaches, or even nausea when in the presence of someone? Do you feel depleted or at peace after spending time with someone or in a situation? Does something feel “off” and you can’t quite put your finger on it? Listen to this, it is a cue that dishonesty is present. Be honest with yourself, are you over-giving?
If the ‘over-taker’ sounds familiar, then you are over dependent on other people or circumstances for your feelings and needs without much concern for their feelings or needs. Again, you haven’t learned how to be with your feelings, take care of your own needs, or you are avoiding shadow aspects within yourself. As a result, you expect other people/situations to be your supplier of happiness, security, or even distractions. You tend to dominate or manipulate in order to keep the supply. Often getting stuck in a place of lack and negativity so others will come to your rescue and continue to give. It is manipulation because you either use guilt or self-pity or minimally meet the other’s needs to get what you want. The manipulation is most likely an attempt to gain control due to an aspect of yourself that doesn’t feel powerful.
Once again, the term ‘over-taker’ is intentional because taking or receiving is also a form of love and absolutely a vital component in an healthy, balanced relationship based in unconditional love. However, when this energy is imbalanced it may lead to recklessly projecting needy, lower energy onto to others like a heavy burden expecting them to carry it and resolve it for you. Again the behavior of an ‘over-taker’ is based in a sense of lack rather than love and abundance. You are stating, “I don’t trust my self to give myself what I need”, so you seek it from external elements.
Ask yourself the following questions for these are signs you may meet this type of codependency. Do you dominate conversations and complain the majority of the time or is the conversation mostly about you? Do you actively listen to the other person or are you waiting for them to pause so you can speak again? Do you always want to be around someone because they make you feel happy, at ease, or at peace? On the flip side, do you feel addicted to them in a way because they make you feel angry, justifying a need to control and feel powerful? Do you give gifts in order to get your needs met or to keep the person around? These gifts can be any form from material, verbal, to emotional.
BREAKING THE PATTERN
On either side of the codependency spectrum you are giving your power away and falling into a victim mentality due to not fully loving and accepting yourself. Breaking the cycle or pattern requires deep honesty and unconditional love of self. Be curious about your behaviors and the motives behind them. It is not helpful to crucify yourself if you do find you have codependent behaviors. It’s actually a door to freedom providing awareness and the opportunity to liberate yourself from a mindset that has kept you bound and dishonest. By learning to deeply love all aspects of yourself (both light and shadow), you completely stop the codependency cycle because you no longer need or expect others to fill the gaps you perceive are present. Loving your shadow aspects doesn’t mean to act upon them, it is a just way to reduce its power over you.
When someone wants to spend time with you or asks something of you, simply pause, and ask yourself: “does this bring me joy?”. If not, be honest and say ‘no’ or ‘yes’, setting firm boundaries. When you spend time with someone or in certain situations, ask yourself: “are my behaviors rooted in honesty and love?” or “am I seeking the ‘other’ to take care of me or avoiding a shadow aspect within myself?”.
Lovingly be honest with yourself and take measures to do the internal work in order to bring the fears and shadows to the light in need of healing. If you are stuck in negativity, then it may be helpful to ask yourself: “what have I learned from this situation or relationship?”. You can also ask yourself: “what can I do to bring me joy?”. In addition to these questions, often when we are attached to negativity there is likely an aspect of ourselves we need to forgive. For example, if you tend to chronically complain about how you were treated in a situation, then perhaps you need to forgive yourself for not standing up for yourself. Use the past as a teaching tool NOT a tool for regret. Regret keeps you stuck in a cycle of suffering which hinders your ability to move forward.
In both situations, it may be beneficial to seek guidance from trusting and honest friends or from a professional to help you become aware and heal the codependency behavior, but remain vigilant to not become over dependent upon them. If you are seeking validation, love, security, acceptance, respect, or support, then learn how to illuminate and to strengthen these aspects within yourself. Others can be an example, but ultimately they can’t provide it for you. It is all within you, it is a matter of remembering it is already there.
A spiritually mature soul learns to unconditionally love and take care of self so they may offer honesty and love to others. Remembering if you desire honest relationships or circumstances, then the honesty absolutely must begin with you. This self-empowerment sends the Universe a clear message of what you desire to attract. With unconditional love of self, you will energetically invite other people and circumstances that emulate the same deep love and honesty.
Note if you are currently in a codependent relationship or situation, the “other” may not be ready or even understand your boundary or your honesty. Codependent relationships can be healed, but it takes two partners who are actively willing to heal their own codependent behaviors. If the relationship is not quite ready to be healed, then it may require you to let go certain aspects of the relationship or completely let go of the relationship all the while honoring your integrity and authenticity. The key is to let go with unconditional love. In doing so, you are offering compassion which mirrors the compassion you have for the shadow aspect within yourself. Then have gratitude for the relationship for giving you an opportunity to affirm your empowerment and self-love.
MY EXPERIENCE USING THE COPING SKILL
I have definitely attracted numerous relationships and situations in my life where my role was the ‘over-giver’ birthed from a low sense of worth. I’ve come to know the difference in the feeling when I give from unconditional love or from guilt. From guilt, it shows up as either a heavy sinking feeling in my abdomen, a feeling of dread or resentment, feeling depleted, or sharp pains in my left shoulder.
I’ve affirmed to completely resolve giving from guilt by being fully honest in all of my relationships. I have taken my power back. If it doesn’t feel right in my heart and body, then I say an honest ‘no’ and drop the guilt.
An honest ‘no’ or ‘yes’ for me is to not make up excuses in attempt to protect or take care of the other’s feelings. Examples of setting boundaries and standing in my power may include: “no thank you, I plan to take care of myself in another way”; “thank you for the offer, but I don’t need your healing session”; “I’ll listen to you vent for half of our lunch, then let’s talk about something else”; “that sounds frustrating, what did you learn from it or what’s your plan to find your joy again?”; “I’m wondering if you heard me”; or “I feel like you are not actively listening to me so it makes me feel like I’m unimportant to you”. However, sometimes a simple “no thank you” or allowing yourself space in between interactions (being less available) may be enough in honoring your truth.
I now say ‘Yes’ to honest and authentic receiving and giving in order to provide balance within myself. Not ‘yes’ because I’m afraid of hurting their feelings, trying to take care of their needs or feelings above my own, or afraid of losing someone in my life even if their presence is not serving my highest good. If I regress into old behaviors, then I lovingly forgive myself and realign with my true, authentic self.
For me the question: “does this bring me joy?”, is quite effective. This one question is an act of validating my worth. Basically declaring my needs and feelings are just as important as everyone else’s. Reminding myself, if they can’t accept my honesty, then perhaps the relationship is not able to resonate on an interdependent frequency. Therefore, a need to let it go or let aspects of it go giving the Universe a clear message I desire honest relationships rooted in unconditional love and mutual reciprocity. As I unconditionally love myself, I invite the same into my life and unconditionally love others with ease.
Thank you Spirit for providing an opportunity for healing.
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The purpose of this blog is to share with you how I integrate my professional mental health experience, personal experience, and spiritual awareness in the form of coping skills. By sharing my experience, it is my hope it will provide a practical example how to interrupt and eventually resolve the cyclic energy of suffering and to elevate your energy! Please visit my Facebook page: Divine Healing: Poetry and Coping Skills (https://www.facebook.com/DivineHealing.Poetry.Coping) or my website: http://divinehealingmastery.com to learn more about me and to read my poetry.
PLEASE BE ADVISED
The coping skills provided in this blog are meant as a tool to aid in healing and not for psychotherapy or social work practice requiring a contractual, professional relationship. If you need consistent therapeutic care and/or crisis intervention due to being at risk of harming yourself or others, then seek professional and/or emergency services immediately.
These skills work best when you are ready to heal. It is OK if you are not quite ready. Please be gentle and patient with yourself. You will heal when you are ready. Sending you so much love, warmth, and compassion.
© Stacy L. Pintor 2016. All Rights Reserved. (No part of this blog may be reproduced without written permission from the author.)