10 Ways to Stay Codependent

Brian M. Murray, MS, IMH

Codependency used to be associated only with those who are in a relationship with someone who has an addiction. Codependent is a term that arose out of the addiction community that addicts used to described the type of person to whom they would show love in order to use them as a resource to feed their habit.

More recently, codependency has been expanded as a broader term to describe a behavior pattern that can affect anyone, not just those who are in relationship with an addict. Codependency is identified when a person sacrifices their well-being in favor of the interests and well-being of others. The other is usually a person with whom they are in a significant or marriage relationship. Codependency can happen in other areas as well such as family, church and at work. While all people need community and to feel accepted, codependents go out of their way to get this acceptance and love from others, often to the detriment of their true self character and integrity.

Denial is a codependent sub-type and there are times when people who are suffering simply don’t want to change and would rather continue with the suffering. Often the main reason for this is because the behavior is something they are familiar with and it is a habit they are not ready to break. Change requires dropping the fear of the unknown to begin to live in a more healthy way. So, if a person wants to stay codependent and continue to live in denial, here are 10 ways to do so:

1.      Don’t talk about your problems and keep them a secret.

2.      Ignore your feelings and focus primarily on everyone else’s feelings.

3.      Put yourself squarely between two arguing people and play conflict messenger.

4.      Make sure when talking to others you soften your words in order to diminish any chance of emotional outbursts.

5.      Make sure you interpret self care as being selfish.

6.      Believe that it is not okay to have personal rights in a relationship, be healthy or be happy.

7.      You are not allowed to play and have fun until the needs of others have been met first.

8.      Be responsible for others by picking/cleaning up after them and not allowing them to do it for themselves.

9.      Call in sick for your spouse who drinks too much and can’t make it work or is too hung-over from the night before.

10.  Remember, your good feelings about who you are stem from how well others approve of you and the things you do for them.

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