Are You Codependent?

by | Jan 31, 2002 | Woman

Do you say yes when you really want to say no? Do you “walk on eggshells” around certain people, believing you can control their emotions? Do you think you must have solutions for other people’s problems?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be codependent.

Codependent literally means “dependent with.” People can become “dependent with,” or on, a substance, such as alcohol or drugs; a behavior, such as irregular eating or compulsive shopping; or other people, such as a spouse or adult child.

How does codependency develop?

All humans are born with basic needs. Our physical needs–food, water and shelter–are obvious. Our emotional needs–love, acceptance and significance–are less apparent but just as important to our development. If we are deprived of these basic love needs, we are affected for the rest of our lives.

If you were born into an emotionally healthy family, your love needs were probably met. However, if you were born to parents who themselves were deprived of love, it’s very likely your needs were not met, either.

Alcohol- or drug-addicted parents, for example, are often unavailable to their children both emotionally and physically. The parent who is not addicted is so immersed in the addict and his problems that she has little ability to meet the love needs of the children. The emotionally deprived children often become codependent adults, struggling through life with what Hemfelt, Minirth and Meier refer to in their book Love Is a Choice as an “empty love tank.”

“In a normal, functional family,” they write, “love is transmitted from generation to generation, poured down from parents to children.” If this does not happen, codependency, “a condition that results when love tanks are running on empty,” can occur.

THE CODEPENDENT RESPONSE
How can you tell if you, or someone you love, is codependent? There are a variety of behavioral patterns you can watch for.

Codependents try to fill their emotional voids with people, behaviors and things. Feeling empty inside and unhappy with their lives, codependents use people, behaviors and things to control or medicate inner feelings such as fear, unresolved anger or loneliness.

In a family in which one spouse has an alcohol or drug addiction, the other spouse is frequently dependent upon the person with the addiction. The non-addicted spouse sees the addict as “needing to be taken care of” and assumes responsibility for the addict’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors.

Codependents have a tendency to control. In an effort to control their own emotions, codependents try to control the emotions and behaviors of those around them. What they can’t control, they worry about.

Codependents are motivated by the idea that if they could only get their partners to change, their problems would be solved. Their belief is that others have the ability to “make” them angry, happy or sad.

Accompanying the need to control is the feeling of fear.Codependents often fear another’s retaliation physically, emotionally or mentally. They also are paralyzed by thoughts of being abandoned and left alone to handle life’s issues. They minimize their problems, trying to believe the lie that “things aren’t really so bad.”

Codependents become so enmeshed in another’s life and problems that they lose their own sense of identity and self-worth. Constantly looking to others for validation, codependents seek approval at all costs and will do whatever is necessary to please others. The wife of a sex addict may be extremely cautious about crossing her husband, for example, because she fears that if she makes him mad, he’ll look at pornography.

Codependents often lack the ability to set clear boundaries–not knowing when to say yes and when to say no to themselves and others. Fuzzy boundaries are a symptom of low self-esteem. They stem from negative thought patterns such as “If I say no, they won’t like me.” Such constant devaluing prevents an accurate assessment of true strengths and weaknesses, which is the basis for healthy self-esteem and the key to setting healthy boundaries.

Codependents excuse, tolerate and cover up the bad behavior of the person they are dependent upon, even when it is habitual or extreme. Have you ever known a wife who “calls in sick” for an alcoholic spouse with a hangover, or a husband who continues to make the payments on credit card accounts for a spouse who’s a compulsive shopper? Codependents enable rather than help correct the bad behavior.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

It is interesting that, as a Messianic rabbi the question I am asked most often by Christians is if I believe that they as Christians have to celebrate, or observe, the biblical Holy Days. They are usually asking about those days listed in Leviticus 23: Shabbat, Yom...

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

As the crackdown against Christianity in America grows, it is a cycle believers have seen before. While no one celebrates their religious freedom coming under attack, God has used this persecution to great effect throughout history. Over the centuries, there have been...

Dealing Effectively with the Dynamics of Change

Dealing Effectively with the Dynamics of Change

Change can be challenging. Some people look forward to change and embrace it. Some people dread change and try to avoid it. Since change is inevitable, so here are some of the dynamics surrounding change and the specific strategies to deal with change more...

God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

This past weekend I preached at The Roads Church, a charismatic congregation located in the tiny town of Norris City, Illinois. Located amid cornfields, the population is only 1,325, but almost that many people visit the church on weekends. They come from all over...

The Biblical Way to Rise Above Mediocre Expectations

The Biblical Way to Rise Above Mediocre Expectations

We spend a lot of life figuring out if we “measure up,” a phrase someone coined in the mid-1800s. Even in childhood, we begin comparing ourselves with siblings and kids at school, and it never seems to stop. The problem goes back to Cain and Abel, doesn’t it? Most of...

RECENT ARTICLES

A Better Way to Witness to Others for Christ

”Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (Rom. 2:4). Looking...
Why Does God Want Us to Speak with Tongues?

Why Does God Want Us to Speak with Tongues?

Why speak with tongues? There are many reasons for speaking in a spiritual language. Primarily, though, the Scriptures require it. The apostle Paul commanded us, saying, “Pray in the Spirit always” (Eph. 6:18). Jude commanded it in verse 20, saying, “Pray in the Holy...

Why God’s Rebuilding is Better Than His Restoration

Why God’s Rebuilding is Better Than His Restoration

Often, I have prayed for the Lord to restore something in my life. Whenever I have gone through a hard season or a broken relationship, my prayers automatically petition the Lord to restore my situation. Whenever there is a loss, and you are going through the grieving...

Why America Must Adopt the Battle Cry of Isaiah

Why America Must Adopt the Battle Cry of Isaiah

A battle cry is used to summon armies to war. A loud, unified shout could intimidate the strongest of enemies. Confidence in battle often tilts the scale toward victory, whereas timidity, fear and cowardliness will surely lead to defeat. In these dreadful times, don’t...

Intentionally Raising a Godly Generation

Intentionally Raising a Godly Generation

Debbie put her faith in Christ at age 11. In fact, her whole family met Jesus at just about the same time. As her parents began growing in their faith, they nurtured growth in their children as well. Family Bible reading, prayer and talking about God’s leading in...

Pin It on Pinterest

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]