Everyone knows how flight attendants review safety rules in case of an in-flight emergency: what to do in case of a water landing… what to do if the cabin air pressure changes… what to do if the oxygen masks deploy. Before take-off on every flight, attendants make clear—secure your oxygen before helping others put on their masks. You have to be breathing to help other people breathe. These directions are founded upon an important life principle: prioritize your own well-being before offering help to others. But a lot of people have a hard time living this principle, and when people fixate upon other people’s problems instead of addressing their own, they run into trouble. They may be hurting themselves and their loved one, and their behavior may be codependent.
Take Steve, for example. Steve has a 20-something daughter who needs a lot of support but who is also capable. Steve pays his daughter’s utilities, rent, and tuition because he worked his way through school and promised himself that he would provide for his children. Steve is happy to provide opportunities for his daughter that he never had. With every semester where she changes her major or drops a class, Steve feels a little more resentful that she is not capitalizing on this opportunity to advance her education and career. But then Steve remembers that seeing her happy is worth it.
There is little question that Steve loves his daughter, but his actions may be causing serious harm. Steve’s behavior may be fulfilling his own need to be needed, and in the process, he is hurting himself and his daughter. Steve may be codependent.
Steve is not alone. Many others offer help from a place of need instead of strength. Thriveworks Greenville offers counseling for codependency because when people recognize they have a problem, they can overcome codependent behaviors and learn to relate in healthier ways.
Codependent people usually choose relationships with people who need their help—people with a history of vulnerability, addiction, or reckless behavior. These relationships can form in many different contexts—between parents/children, spouses, friends, co-workers, and more.
People who wrestle with codependency may at first seem unbelievably kind, nice, and giving. However, with time, hurtful behaviors can become apparent. Codependents struggle with deep-seated shame and feelings of inadequacy. Focusing upon other people’s problems and fixing their problems distracts them from their own serious issues. They may tell themselves that helping others is a way to earn love or prove their value.
Distinguishing between hurtful codependent behavior and appropriate support can be difficult. The following are a handful of characterizations that mark codependent behavior:
- Poor/no boundaries: When codependent people receive a request that is unreasonable, they often still respond with a, “yes.” They may fear that saying, “no” will cost them the relationship, so they may put their financial, emotional, or physical health at risk to help others. \
- Minimization/denial: Individuals who are codependent are often clueless about their own problems or the harm they may be causing. Admitting their own problems can be excruciatingly painful, and they are often unaware of where they personally need healing.
- Caretaking: Codependent people have interwoven what they do for people with who they are. If a person refuses their help, codependents take the rejection personally.
- Obsession: Worry and anxiety often drive people with codependency to fixate upon another person. They may obsess about a particular person as a way of distracting themselves from their own issues.
- Dependency: Codependent people may appear to help, but often, their help is driven by a sense of need—they need to be needed. They can be very clinging and needy in a relationship.
- Low self-esteem: Individuals who struggle with codependency have a hard time acknowledging their inherent self-worth and dignity. Their often tie their self-worth with how much they do or achieve.
- Poor communication skills: If a codependent thinks their own thoughts, feelings, or needs will upset another, they may not communicate these to others. With time, codependent people may even stop admitting to themselves what they really feel, think, or need.
- Tendencies to people-please: Codependent individuals often take responsibility for how other people feel. They may work hard to ensure everyone in their life is happy. If someone is angry, upset, or disappointment, they may feel like it is their fault.
Counseling for Codependent Behaviors at Thriveworks Greenville, SC
As you read through the list of codependent behaviors, did any stand out to you? If so, you are not the only one. Many people struggle with codependency, but many people have also overcome it. With a skilled therapist, you may learn how to…
- Prioritize your own physical, emotional, and financial needs.
- Recognize and respect your own feelings and thoughts.
- Value who you are above what you do.
- Learn new, healthier relational skills.
Are you ready to learn how to put your own oxygen mask on every day before helping others breathe? Thriveworks Greenville has appointments for codependency available, and our therapists are ready to help.
New clients often see their counselor within 48 hours, and we have weekend and evening appointments available. A person answers our phone—no voicemail and no automated directory. We also work with many insurance companies.
Are you ready to make a change? Let’s get started. Call Thriveworks Greenville Today: (864) 952-4048