Guess what? You are probably codependent. I’ll pause for a moment while you feel offended, and say, “What?! How dare she say I’m codependent!”
Now before you stop reading because you think that there is no way you are codependent, and therefore this does not apply to you, let me say that just like most things in life codependence exists on a continuum. So although I would say that most people have at least a little codependence, not everyone is affected by it on a daily basis. So if it makes you feel better, you can tell yourself that you are probably on the healthier end of that continuum, so you’ll go ahead and keep reading just in case this information could be useful to someone else in your life; like a friend or your spouse. Isn’t that how we are? We like to apply things we learn to everyone else around us, which allows us to pretend that we don’t deal with the same issue.
So let’s start with a simple definition of codependency. Codependence is simply when your self-esteem, your emotions, your behavior, or your basic sense of self is based on how other people think, feel, or react to you.
Now based on that definition, I don’t think that you can be in denial about being at least a little codependent anymore. Since the title of this post is “You Might Be Codependent If” let’s make a list.
You might be codependent if you ever get on facebook, and feel deeply hurt that friends are hanging out together without you.
You might be codependent if getting on Facebook at all tends to be an emotionally painful experience. (Or you might just be friends with a lot of people you need to unfollow.) In fact you might be codependent if you feel like you can’t unfriend or unfollow people on Facebook, even if seeing their posts are causing you frustration or emotional pain.
You might be codependent if it’s hard for you to celebrate the success of others, because it feels like it takes something away from you/makes you feel jealous.
You might be codependent if you ever feel responsible for other people’s feelings.
You might be codependent if you worry about how others are going to respond to your own feelings, or behavior.
You might be codependent if your feelings of worth come from the opinions of others.
This was just a few examples, and I’m guessing you probably saw yourself in at least one of them. If you are interested in taking an informal self-inventory, I found a pretty good one here. I’m not endorsing anything else on that website, because I haven’t even looked at the rest of that website, but I thought the self-inventory was good.
So you’ve discovered that you are at least a little bit codependent. Or maybe you are feeling discouraged because you realize you are a lot codependent. That’s okay. Knowledge can be painful, but knowledge is also power. How are you ever going to grow if you don’t even know what’s wrong?
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, I would recommend the book Facing Codependence by Pia Mellody. It is a great introduction to what codependency is, and how to start to heal from it. I use it all the time in my therapy practice with my clients.
Over the next several weeks, I will be writing on a number of different issues related to this topic including how to have better boundaries, how to have a healthier sense of self-worth, and how those things impact the relationships that are most important to us.
So let me know what you think? I’d love to hear about your experience taking the self-inventory if you do it, and where you see this issue of codependency surfacing in your own life. Or, you know, if it makes you feel better, you can just tell me how it effects the the lives of those around you. 🙂