Codependency occurs when a capable adult relinquishes control of their life and their happiness to another person, believing incorrectly that their passivity is somehow going to give them what they want.
Falling in love usually starts off with a wonderful cocktail of hormones and joy juices like adrenaline, oxytocin and pheromones coursing through our system. They leave us tingling, excited and distracted from anything but the object of our desire.
If, however, we don't adjust that obsession over time to allow for reality to get a firm foothold, we can be plagued by feelings of lack of control, despair and longing. If the relationship continues, one person or the other can become lost, diminished and unable to make wise choices about asserting their rights and staying true to who they are. Codependency is an unnatural outcome.
Recognizing the signs of codependency
Your emotions aren't your own:
• Most of the time you are feeling extremes of hurt, anger and powerlessness or euphoria and excitement...based mostly on another person's action or inaction.
Your life is controlled by someone else:
• You find yourself thinking/saying, "If only they would...then I would...."
• Your centre of power is outside of you...you make decisions based on someone else's wants and desires.
• Someone else's opinion carries more weight than your own.
• You become disempowered and immobilized, trying to anticipate what someone else wants or will do before you move.
Your best time and energy are spent reacting rather than being proactive:
• You keep thinking that you can change someone else's thoughts, feelings or behaviours.
Your self-esteem starts to diminish:
• You dupe yourself into thinking that if you were prettier, smarter, asked for more, asked for less, the other person would accept and love you.
• Waiting for someone else to change is changing you...you are less engaged in normal healthy activities of life and your joy juice is sapped dry!
Your life is stuck on an emotional roller coaster:
• You keep hoping or fantasizing about how, one day, your life will be better.
• You are held hostage by your fear of the other person's potential sadness or anger.
Page 1 of 2 -- Learn what you can do to take back control of your life and start making positive changes on page 2
If any of this sounds like you...
• Recognize your addiction, talk to a healthy friend or adviser and begin today to take back the control of your life and your well-being.
• Realize that you are powerless over what the other person feels, thinks or does. You didn't cause it and you can't fix it. It is none of your business. You only have the right and the responsibility to take good care of you.
• Soothe the self-doubting parts of you that are fuelling your chasing of dreams in such a self-defeating, nightmare way.
• Replace that hunger for someone else to complete you with maturity, self-respect and a self-awakening that comes through time spent with safe people.
• Hang out with a new crowd. Safe people make wise choices to ensure their well-being and expect you to do the same.
• Fill your agenda with self-affirming and community-serving activities that are all about knowing yourself better through responsible social action.
• Stay away from people who want to control you or need you to control them. That's just creepy, unless they're under five and you're their legal guardian.
• Learn to recognize earlier the signs that you are giving up your power and aren't making choices that are best for you. You are saying yes when you should be saying no.
• Clarify your perceptions when you begin to feel anxious or think the roller coaster of emotions has begun in a new relationship. Challenge the other person in a curious -- not critical -- manner, and move on if the answers aren't ones that respect your right to have a different opinion.
Begin with your safest relationships to practice your blossoming autonomy. If you have become too dependent on needing the positive regard of others or seldom get what you want for fear of disappointing them, then you may need to renegotiate your position. As an adult, where there is no risk of abuse, a stance of mutuality is the goal to seek. You owe it to yourself to have healthy relationships. When the choice is yours -- and it usually is -- settle for nothing less.
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