Therapy for Codependent Behavior—Counselors in Scranton, PA
Every relationship has give and take. It is healthy to need help. It is healthy to give help. Being family and friends means leaning upon one another. When one person gives to the point of risking their personal safety, the helping may be hurting. When one person gives and gives and gives because of a feeling of guilt, the helping may be hurting. When one person shields loved ones from the consequences of their poor choices, then the helping may be hurting. These ways of relating are more than unhealthy, they may also be codependent. When people are codependent, they try to fix other people while neglecting their own needs.
How can people who are trying to help actually be hurting their loved ones and themselves? Think about Alice.
Alice knows that her defining characteristic is how much she cares for people. That is why people love her. Alice offers help before her kids can ask. She is the friend who shows up with chicken noodle soup when loved ones are sick. Alice holds her family together, and she loves them so much, it hurts. She knows she can absorb the pain though. If she did not, who would? Her husband, Ken, has had difficulty holding a job, but he has no challenges spending money. Times are lean, but Alice has picked up extra hours at work, even though she would rather be with the kids. Ken’s online gambling bills have maxed out their credit. What other choice does she have?
Alice clearly loves her family, friends, and husband, but are her actions healthy for herself and for them? Alice may be enabling her husband’s irresponsible behavior, and she may be harming herself in the process. Alice may be codependent.
The counselors and therapists at Thriveworks Scranton have helped many people who are struggling to prioritize their own well-being. These clients often learn how to help without enabling and that self-care is not selfish.
How Does Codependent Behavior Work?
Other people’s needs drive a codependent’s needs and desires. Barbara Johnson famously joked, “Being codependent means that when you die, someone else’s life passes before your eyes.” That may be a little extreme, but it represents the basic idea. Codependent people often form relationships with people who are addicted, who have severe medical challenges, or who engage in reckless behavior. Codependents often focus upon fixing other people instead of focusing upon their own needs and dreams. Usually, a deep sense of shame and fear of being rejected drives a codependent’s behavior.
“We Are Lovable. Even if the most important person in your world rejects you,
you are still real, and you are still okay.”
― Melody Beattie, Codependent No More
Shame, insecurity, fear, and guilt—these are all emotions that codependent people know well. They may see helping as a way to be accepted or to be seen as competent. Unfortunately, codependency only leads to more shame, insecurity, fear, and guilt—not healing, love, and acceptance.
What Can Codependent Relationships Look Like?
Codependency can manifest in any kind of relationship: between friends, co-workers, spouses, parents, children, and more. It can be a challenge to see where normal help and support has crossed over into enabling and codependency. The following are signs that you are not helping, but you are enabling. Think about your relationships. Do you recognize anything?
- You pay the consequences for other people’s irresponsible choices or addictive behavior.
- You worry that your loved ones will withdraw from you if you say no or stop covering for them.
- You feel angry or resentful after helping loved ones. Of course, you help when you want to help, but you also help when you do not want to or when you should not.
- The relationship has been emotionally or physically damaging to you, but you will not leave.
- Saying, “no” feels impossible.
- You are defensive about your own behavior—constantly apologizing or explaining.
- You are defensive about your loved one’s behavior—constantly apologizing or explaining.
- You prioritize how other people feel, what they need, or how they think over your own thoughts, feelings, and needs.
- You deny or minimize your own and your loved one’s problems.
- You have a hard time articulating your needs and emotions.
Healing from Codependency—Appointments at Thriveworks Scranton
If you recognized anything on that list, you may be codependent, but you are not alone. Many people struggle with unhealthy, enabling behaviors. Many people are also learning how to honor their own thoughts, feelings, and needs. Many people are learning that self-care is not selfish. The counselors and therapists at Thriveworks Scranton have helped many people heal from their codependency. Recovery often involves…
- Learning to say, “no.”
- Honoring your own emotional, physical, and financial needs.
- Building up your own self-worth.
- Being present for loved ones but not fixing them.
- Practicing healthy connection.
If you are ready to find another way of being in a relationship? If so, the counselors at Thriveworks are ready to provide support. When you contact our office, know that a scheduling specialist will answer your call and help you find an appointment. New clients often have their first appointment within 24 hours of their call. We also offer weekend and evening session. There are many forms of insurance that we accept.
You are worth the effort. Let’s work together toward a healthier you. Call Thriveworks Scranton today.