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What Does It Mean To Be Codependant?

Co-dependancy is a learned behavior that affects one’s ability to have a healthy, satisfying relationship. Many people classify co-dependancy as “relationship addiction”, as people often form or maintain relationships that tend to be emotionally destructive and unhealthy. It is thought that co-dependancy is a learned behavior that can be learned by watching (and mirroring) family system members who display these similar traits.

Individuals who are co-dependant typically have low self-esteem and are constantly searching for something external to make themselves feel better or more at peace with themselves. Many co-dependant individuals have good intentions, as they try to take care of others…but this caretaking can become addictive and endless. Co-dependants often try to “save” those around them. This type of caretaking can become habitual and compulsive…resulting in a cycle which is difficult to break free from.

Mental Health America (http://www.nmha.org/) has a helpful questionnaire which I have posted below, to help you recognize the signs of co-dependant behavior (please note, this text below has been taken from the Mental Health America website listed above):

1. Do you keep quiet to avoid arguments?
2. Are you always worried about others’ opinions of you?
3. Have you ever lived with someone with an alcohol or drug problem?
4. Have you ever lived with someone who hits or belittles you?
5. Are the opinions of others more important than your own?
6. Do you have difficulty adjusting to changes at work or home?
7. Do you feel rejected when significant others spend time with friends?
8. Do you doubt your ability to be who you want to be?
9. Are you uncomfortable expressing your true feelings to others?
10. Have you ever felt inadequate?
11. Do you feel like a “bad person” when you make a mistake?
12. Do you have difficulty taking compliments or gifts?
13. Do you feel humiliation when your child or spouse makes a mistake?
14. Do you think people in your life would go downhill without your constant efforts?
15. Do you frequently wish someone could help you get things done?
16. Do you have difficulty talking to people in authority, such as the police or your boss?
17. Are you confused about who you are or where you are going with your life?
18. Do you have trouble saying “no” when asked for help?
19. Do you have trouble asking for help?
20. Do you have so many things going at once that you can’t do justice to any of them?

Co-dependancy involves a habitual pattern of thought, feeling and behavior towards ourselves and others which can cause a great deal of pain and frustration. These habits can keep individuals in destructive relationships that simply don’t work…

It is important for co-dependants to step back and identify his or her feelings and needs. This may include setting healthy boundaries with others and resisting the urge to constantly please others. It is also important to focus on being self-reliant and increasing one’s positive view of self.

For more information, you can visit the website “Co-dependants Anonymous” here: http://www.coda.org/

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