Codependency Part II
Another aspect of codependency has to do with our everyday interactions and relationship with others. Sometimes we don’t even know it but we are looking for others approval of us or the decisions we make in our life. We tend to be “people pleasers” in the hopes that we will get some positive attention or validation. Codependents often do not realize that they are looking for something. They truly believe that any act of kindness or help is because they want to be supportive and helpful to their friends or family. In most cases the average person can give without wanting anything in return; however with the codependent it tends to be much deeper for them.
Codependents will fall into the following scenarios:
• they struggle with saying “NO” to others
• they have difficulty setting boundaries
• they feel responsible for others’ feelings
• they will set aside their needs for other’s needs
• they feel victimized when they do not receive validation and approval
There are other characteristics that identify codependent behavior; however these tend to be the most common. The problem for the codependent is in understanding the difference between normal “caretaking” and caretaking because they are looking for approval, attention and/or validation. Normal caretaking is helping out a friend in need, taking a friend to the hospital or an appointment, running to the store for them, helping a friend get ready for a party to name a few. They give and help because that is what their friendship is about give and take and because they care about them and love them. They are not seeking anything in return because their relationship is based upon mutual trust and respect for one another. Codependent caretaking is when they are always giving and giving and people are always taking and taking and they do not understand why they are feeling so bad about themselves. They are unaware that they have selfish motives for giving and unfortunately people will take advantage of this type of codependent behavior. The codependent needs to ask “Why am I doing this? Am I looking for validation? What is in it for ME?” and only than can they make a decision to say YES I will help or support. There intention needs to be pure without expectations.
Not having expectations attached to giving can be very complicated for the codependent. They have difficulty understanding what their role and needs are in their relationships with others. Some of them have been raised in a home where their role and responsibility was to take care of everyone’s needs. So for them as adults now it is normal and familiar; however it has also become problematic for them. They have now become more emotional, resentful and angry because others do not see all that they have done for them. They present as martyrs: the poor me syndrome; “I quess I am the only one who can do this no one wants to help me.” Codependents often do not see themselves this way because they are the ones who are doing “all the work”. What they do not see is the impact it has on others and what they are saying to others and ultimately themselves.