C O D E P E N D E N C Y
We hear the term thrown around all the time but I suspect that most people don’t fully understand what codependency is. Why do I think this? — Because I have a hard time wrapping my head around the numerous definitions and complexity of this topic. It’s hard to discuss Codependency without bringing up family dynamics, intimacy issues, coping styles, boundaries, addictions, etc. It’s a complex topic that deserves much more than a little post but, heck, I’m up for the challenge, so here goes. I’ll try and put a dent in it. This post will be inadequate, I know, but should get you thinking and feeling.
- A dysfunctional pattern of living and problem solving developed during childhood by family rules.
- A set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by family members in order to survive a family’s pain and emotional stress.
- Doing for another what they can, and should be doing for themselves (taking care of someone’s emotional, physical, needs, when they’re perfectly capable) We keep people stuck so that we can play our role and avoid looking at our own stuff.
General COVERT rules set-up within families that may cause codependency
- It’s not okay to talk about problems. Be closed and secretive.
- Feelings should not be expressed openly; keep unpleasant feelings to self
- Communication is best if indirect; one person acts as a messenger between two others; known in therapy as triangulation.
- Be strong, good, right, perfect
- Make us proud beyond realistic expectations
- Don’t be selfish
- Do as I say, not as I do
- It’s okay not to play or be playful
- Don’t rock the boat
- We share one ego mass – individual thinking and feeling is frowned upon
- Change is not permitted
- Learn how to read covert signals, learn the rules of the family and stick with them
- Boundaries are either too strict (anxiety) or too lax (chaos)
- We are responsible for each other’s choices but especially for maintaining the facade.
These maladaptive behaviors hinder family member’s development. The system (usually parents and relatives) has been developed in response to a problem such as alcoholism, mental illness, a shame issue of some kind, etc. We can usually go back a generation or two and we’ll find the “problem” or shame. The rules are multi-generational.
What’s important to remember is that as children, our coping behaviors are acceptable – we survive any way we can. Children are not responsible for their choices while surviving a dysfunctional system. Parents are responsible for taking care of their children’s emotional needs not the other way around. The problem is, that when we grow into adulthood we take those maladaptive behaviors with us instead of leaving them behind — and they definitely don’t work in adulthood. They will constrict and strain the development of healthy INDIVIDUAL self-esteem and hurt our relationships.
INDIVIDUALS WITH CODEPENDENCY MIGHT DEMONSTRATE THESE SYMPTOMS
- controlling behaviors, demanding
- avoidance of feelings
- intimacy problems (both emotional and physical)
- Care taking behavior
- Hyper vigilance – a heightened awareness for potential emotional or physical threat
- Boundary issues – get angry with self for letting your own boundaries get broken
- Low self-esteem
- Fixing the damage caused by another person’s behavior
- Placing other people’s needs ahead of one’s own
- Relying excessively on other people for approval and identity.
- Inability to say, “NO.”
- Avoids confrontation and conflict at all costs – to the point of compromising integrity
- Blame themselves for everything, feel responsible for other people’s behavior
So, is everyone codependent?? 🙂 No, but most of us can identify with some of these symptoms. If you look at both lists and feel this describes your family, and these feelings and behaviors describe you in large part, then it might be worth exploring the possibility that you have co-dependency issues. No worries. These behaviors are “maladaptive” which means they can be undone with a little work, time and a new understanding. Codependency can be conquered. It’ll feel very uncomfortable to go up against dysfunctional family rules, but in the end, your relationships will be stronger, healthier and more honest if you do. You’ll enjoy new self-approval!! Good for you!!
Yes, I was. No, I am not anymore. Thank you!
Good for you!!! It’s tough stuff. I admire anyone who can find their way out. It’s a process but the pay off is big. I remain on my journey, always aware when feelings surface.
Thanks for your comment! 🙂
) When is the A Gripping Life Therapy Book coming out? Seriously. You should look into it somewhere down the line. Therapy sessions like these, pictures that can bring joy to people, and then maybe some true life stories from different people that exhibit these different problems like codependency. Hey, it’s a thought.
2) Symptoms are a weird thing to look at to figure out if you’re someone with a certain issue. Someone can be incredibly independent (would that be the opposite of codependency? whatever the opposite would be) because of their distrust, low self-esteem, inability to say “no”, etc. Is it always a family thing? I think if that’s the case you must ask yourself if you can truly accomplish the task without family help. I know PLENTY of people who are like this. I know a 23 year old whose mother manages her bank account still. It’s a real problem in my generation. I think a lot of it is fear of growing up and “not having money yet I can drink so much beer and go to so many concerts” stuff. Sadly I think we’re more codependent than ever before.
Very detailed piece you have here. I read through it twice to get everything in.
My 1 disappeared. You get the point though ha
Thanks, Tim. It’s usually family systems that cause the problem but “Family systems” can be very different and still yield similar results. Codependency really started out as an observation that family members of alcoholics all demonstrated similar coping – stuff to cover up the shame and survive the pain from it.
I think what you describe with regard to your peers is more likely related to my generation doing a lame job of raising you. I think we went easy on our kids and babied them because our parents were hard on us. The pendulum goes back and forth. When you and your friends have kids you’ll probably be much more strict! haha!
There are a lot of variations – again, it’s not black and white, unless you look at those lists and it’s exact. Hopefully people reading this don’t freak out if they see themselves. Most of us had some kind of dysfunction and have some residual issues. When you have a string of poor relationships (all kinds) that are not satisfying or nurturing (toxic) then I think it’s time to do something.
Thanks for reading twice!
Good post! This is one of those topics that I didn’t think was important until I witnessed it’s scary effects…!
Oh good! I’m glad you liked it. Luckily it can be worked on and conquered but it requires hard work.
Reblogged this on Lily In Canada and commented:
A great look into the topic of codependency by an awesome writer/therapist/mom!
Thanks, my child. That’s very kind of you. 🙂
I would have never labeled my childhood as covert codependency but wow, I have learned alot in this post Lisa. Codependency can be conquered but it is a hell of a fight — the second half of those symptoms are killers.
And I am with Mr. Mooselicker– get this stuff in a book. You write so well– clear, intelligent and you never talk “down” to your readers.
Yeah, it’s tough stuff. I get some relief by writing the words. I feel like if I can get a handle on them then I can deal with them. Just having an understanding is comforting and gives me hope.
I never talk down to my readers because I am my reader! haha! Thanks, for saying that. It’s important for me to always instill hope and a sense of normalcy.
Ugh. So hard to look at this stuff friend. However, you’ve done an awesome job of laying it all out there! Totally agree with Mooselicker (who ever thought I’d say that line!), btw. Hmmm.
Ugh, is right. It’s not pleasant. Tough stuff that I need to look at as a refresher now and then. I still have residual feelings bubble up and behaviors that walk the line a little too close for comfort.
haha! Mooselicker! Oh, Dawn, I never imagined those words would come from you either! 🙂
If you look up “Co-Dependent”, “Enabler”, Town Fool”, you will see my name.. Albet, I am no longer those things I was an expert ..It saddens me to no end to think that I allowed (yes, it was all my doing) myself to become someone I was inherently not..
lessons learned and I will pray for others like me (or the old me)
post script; :-)..Got the DVD today..THANK YOU..will watch is Saturday and then we can chat about it. so very sweet of you..
Yay! Glad you got it. 🙂
Yeah, this is a tough topic. Town fool and enabler — me too. I think maybe just caring women who put their needs aside to love another. We did the best we could with the limited understanding we had. A tough life lesson, indeed. As Maya Angelou says, “When you know better, you do better.” Now we know better and we are wise and more beautiful for having traveled down that road. 🙂
I like the idea of praying for those in that situation – I’m gonna do that. 🙂
I know without a shadow of a doubt the silent prayers of others (people I will never meet) lifted me from the hell i was in ,..same for you.. and many others.. why does prayer work for some & not others? Our hearts were listening.. so yes, pray for other women globally..it’s important
I’m on it. I know my heart was lifted up from a very deep dark place – I could feel it. I just never thought about praying specifically for women in that situation. Maybe I have generally, but not specifically – you know? I like this.
I found your article interesting as I share my space with a co-dependent spouse, and have done so for over thirty years. It can be a hard nut to crack at times.
Thanks for this.
It certainly is. Blessings to you for understanding it and sticking with it. A little knowledge goes a long way. It is a hard nut to crack, indeed.
Reread Mooselicker (gotta be a story behind that moniker…whew!)…there is a great book banging around in your head…and you know it…much love from all of us…be encouraged!
Thanks, my kind friend. There might be one rattling around in there with all the other nonsense I collect, who knows? 🙂
Have a beautiful night, Stephen!
Thanks…you too…be encouraged!
Again, you put up a great easily digestible synopsis of something everyone’s heard of, but may not know that much about.
I’m a totally different form of co-dependent with my wife, but that may be the best of all things. 😉
Keep therapeutic thursdays coming!
I happen to think your wife is one lucky lady. 🙂
I’ll keep ’em coming – lately it’s the only post that I’ve been actually writing! haha!
This post will be inadequate, I know, but should get you thinking and feeling. Your posts are so far from inadequate, they can’t even see the letters in the word. You never fail to get those of us who read you thinking and feeling.
Write that book, Lisa. You make the gobblity-gook of psychology make sense to the rest of us. Thanks for that.
Thanks, Addie. Before I write these posts my mind is whirling and then I start over thinking and then I take a nap! haha! Sometimes I think this stuff will put people to sleep. I’m always surprised by the responses. It just goes to show you – we’re out there in large numbers! Glad you liked it.
Hello my name is Lanier and I am co-dependent.
Yes I am. I went to meetings for years and now have the tools I need to keep myself in the best possible place. It isn’t easy. As they say One Day At A time.
Life is an ongoing classroom and I am in the front row.
haha! Yeah, I sorta down played the difficulty in the recovery process. I would rather people give it a go than imagine it’s too overwhelming and scary. I’m in the front row, too, Lanier. I’m right next to you. I’m pretty sure that’s where all the best people are seated 🙂
Here’s a quote you might like. I don’t know who wrote it?
“Dare you disturb the universe? Remember that changing entrenched family pattern is only for the boldest among us. Do not begin the journey unless you are prepared to answer to the Gods themselves.”
Hugs to you, my sensitive friend.
Dare you disturb the universe…? wow, what a quote! My partner comes from a dysfunctional co-dependent family (Russian refugees, alcoholic grandfather etc), and the only way he could escape was to remove himself bodily from the family. He still sees them once a year or so, but doesn’t allow himself to get pulled back in. It took a while, the first 5 years were shockingly difficult, but it got a lot better.
This is a great comment because it speaks to the geographical cure. That’s a big part of it. Living out of reach is very helpful when trying to establish your own identity. I’m sure it was really hard, but in the end worth it. Good for him for recognizing it and knowing what not to do to get sucked back in. I think unhealthy families do much better when there is distance. Great comment, Sara!
I know plenty of people who are!
Me, too. I grew up in total dysfunction so I can relate to pretty much every topic I write about! haha! It’s a very difficult issue to overcome- you need emotional intelligence, a willingness to make changes, a big dose of courage and total diligence and dedication. It can be a full time job. The good news is that it can be defeated.
I’m one of those people who uses this term too loosely.
I can say with some degree of certainty, that this is not your issue! haha! I feel like we all have bits and pieces and can fall into some of these behaviors but for the real pattern to emerge you have to have been subjected to those covert rules as a child. You told me a little about your dad but I don’t get the feeling he ever caused you to feel that you needed to accommodate him in any way, right? Maybe because he was an artist, he imparted the idea that freedom of expression was good. If so, this is what kept you healthy and out of the codependent nightmare. (I could be way off base – forgive me if I am.)
The term codependency is thrown around loosely by most of us. It’s one of those psycho babble terms that just catches on… 🙂
Have a great day, Sandee. Stay warm and safe. We got dumped on yesterday – probably like 8 to 10 inches but no one’s talking about it! New York and Boston are the big headliners.
Wonderfully written. I’m passing it on to a friend.
Thanks! I tried to do something but of course it falls short. It’s a difficult issue to deal with. It takes emotional intelligence, courage, and lots of determination to overcome it. Thanks for the kind words and passing it along. 🙂
Thanks for the explanation. It is a very poorly-chosen term, actually, because in the normal course the whole process of learning within a social system would consist of it. What is meant here is a sort of closed, restrictive and unhealthy codependency.
I agree. I hate the term. So many of us developed maladaptive coping as children. We learned to tip toe around difficult or unhealthy people as children and then we don’t understand why, as adults, we’re always putting our needs second in our relationships. Whenever I see “perfect” children, ones that act like little adults, I always get suspicious. I sense that they’ve stepped into the role of caretaker, afraid to step out of bounds, afraid to be free and act like children, afraid to lose their parents love and approval.
It’s a gray subject but when you see clear patterns emerge time and time again it’s hard to deny that this issue exits. I would prefer if it had a different name, too.
So hard to get that balance between perfectly mannered, and still free and spontaneous. That only seems to happen in a perfectly-adjusted home where the norms are spelt out firmly, but tolerance and understanding still exist.
That’s it, exactly. Rules and structure are great as long as they’re not oppressive, destroying your sense of self. A home where you are loved for being exactly who you are and are kept safe by rules and taught social skills with love and patience… well, we should all be so lucky!
A little freaked out because a LOT of those symptoms I thought were just my little personality quirks!
LOLOL!! I know, they really can define us!! You keep thinking they’re little personality quirks… I think they actually work for you. You know how to rock codependency!
I’m interested in this subject, mostly because it seems that co-dependency and narcissism are closely related. Having dealt with that in a family situation, it is a subject close to my heart and one I have struggled silently with for most of my childhood and young adulthood. Nothing was more healing for me than shedding light on the details so I could stop internalizing what was happening. Thanks for the post.
This is a really interesting comment. There are pieces of codependency that definitely lend themselves to a bit of narcissism. Perfectionism has a connection to it. I think that narcissism is a protective ego measure/coping developed for survival a dysfunctional family. Who can hurt you if, in your own mind, you are perfect? Interesting. It’s a struggle for most of us. I think the awareness is key and then choosing to be open and verbal about it when we see it take shape. We may carry those symptoms with us but we can keep them in check and eventually, if we’re diligent, get rid of them all together.
The mind of a narcissist is a black hole of insecurity. On the surface they appear to be self-aggrandizing and believe in their perfection. That is simply a coping mechanism to deal with the belief that they are inferior, thus their need to tear everyone down around them. Having dealt with a narcissistic parent, I became very in tuned to their emotional state, which is a trait that was instilled in me. I have to be careful to not sympathize too much or else I get hooked into the disfunction. Boundaries are key.
My father is a total narcissist. You’re exactly right. It is a protective coping to cover a deep and painful insecurity. He was an emotionally unavailable parent, neglectful on every level. When he was around it was criticism that he offered. I no longer have a relationship with him. Like you, having a relationship with him meant losing pieces of myself. I just finally learned to stay away. He will never change. The residual coping remains for me. I still can very easily put my needs aside for others and look for love and approval from people incapable of giving it to me. Intellectually I understand it but it feels sometimes that we are hard wired to keep repeating those patterns.
Your comments are brilliant. Thank you for adding to the discussion, Vivienne 🙂
I remember when someone explained what a narcissist was to me. I felt like the world had been lifted from my shoulders. I spent my whole life believing that somehow if I could just find the right words and do the right thing, my relationship with my mother would be healed. I keep her at a distance, yet I have compassion for her. She lives in a dark and lonely place that she doesn’t understand, created by a dysfunctional childhood. It is my challenge to be compassionate and caring without sacrificing my well-being and that of my own family. Thank you for opening up this discussion.
I see my father in much the same light. It’s very sad to me, too. Your mother and my father are very similar. I came to the decision to end the relationship after years of hurt. It continues to be heavy on my heart. I’m 50 years old. I’m now trying to reclaim my life.
Thanks again. Your emotional intelligence is refreshing. 🙂
I like your first paragraph. I’ve wrestled with this “What the hell is codependency ?…tell me one more time”. I’m almost of the belief that it doesn’t exist. We as humans must define everything and put a label on it wherever possible.
I think all aspects of “codependency” are really just the swirl of life. It kind fits in that category of the “dysfunctional family”. Which begs the question of there actually being such thing as a “functional family”.
It’s happy, sad, ugly, messy, joyous, sorrowful, spiritual, frustrating, tangible….it’s just life!
I know exactly what you’re saying. I think when a true pattern emerges and you see it over and over again, then you have to acknowledge that this is a “thing.”
When we grow up in a family, and as children, we survive by learning to accommodate or tip toe around difficult or sick personalities (usually one or both of our parents) then we have a hard time shaking those dysfunctional behaviors as adults. We might enter into a marriage with someone who is difficult so that we can continue to walk on egg shells – Why? because that’s the pattern we’re used to. We are sub-consciously drawn, like a magnet, to unhealthy people. That way we can continue to live in a way that’s familiar, albeit very unhealthy.
The thing is, and you’re right, there are lots of variations on dysfunctional families. But when you see those symptoms in a person, and I know people who have every one of those, then you can assume they had a sucky childhood and learned to put their needs second to someone else in the family.
I down played how difficult it is to shake those behaviors. I just want people to know that there is relief and another way to live if you’re brave enough to attempt change.
LOVE your comment!! Always good to hear from people who are in it knee deep. I relate to all this shite – don’t kid yourself. 🙂
Do you think you got into a marriage like you describe in your reply? I often find myself pondering the thoughts as you’ve laid it out, pretty much verbatim.
Yes. Absolutely. My father was emotionally unavailable and neglectful and so that’s exactly what I was drawn to in a marriage partner — Someone unhealthy, who would never reciprocate my love. Of course we do this sub-consciously. It may also be a way for us to resolve our issues once and for all. I think we keep inviting those people into our life until we figure it out and make the needed changes.
It’s called repetition compulsion and it’s amazing how it works.
Really powerful post again, Lisa. I recognize a lot of the things on this list, and I really wish I could “go back a generation or two to find the “problem” or shame.
Thanks, Rachelle. It’s probably familiar to most of us. We learn early on how to tip toe around difficult people as children, how to please them and win their approval, and then we carry that same behavior into adulthood. It’s sad because it really holds us hostage. There is another way to live that is so much more free and easy and yet we have those early covert rules cemented in our heads.
There’s always some sort of shame buried somewhere in the family – very often it’s an addiction, but not always.
Thanks for your comment. I’m always happy when you come by! 🙂
I am still fighting this along with the rest of my demons, but I think it is the one where I have made the most progress. I recently found my Melody Beattie and Anne Katherine books and have been reading through them again. They don’t help 100% but it does reinforce the concepts I have tried to embrace so far.
I agree. The books help to firm it up again, and give you a handle, but they don’t do the hard work for you. It’s an uphill climb, not for the faint of heart. Good for you for continuing the fight. I don’t know you but I’m proud of your efforts 🙂 Keep going, we’re out there in numbers and need good examples of courageous spirits like yours.
Very interesting. Thanks for the food for thought this morning!
Glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by!!
Have a great day!
Incredible piece of work, my friend.
You should be proud.
My mother was a narcissist and codependent. Of course I had no idea when I was growing up. It’s just that she had all these unspoken rules that I can’t even articulate really. Just in the last couple of years have I learned to say no and have I learned to give more energy and attention to myself. But, of course, it’s an ongoing challenge having been brought up basically as my mother’s caregiver. (She’d send me to the store at age 3 with a note for the grocer of the things she needed– yes we lived in a small town but I was only 3!) If I ever got upset when I was a teenager, she would threaten me and say if I didn’t stop SHE would have a nervous breakdown. LOL!!! Looking back on it now, I can see how comical it was and what a funny novel it would make and maybe someday I’ll write it. I certainly am completely over any problems I had with either of my parents. They’ve both passed on and those chapters such as they are have been closed. I see a lot of fear tied up in codependency. The person who is providing everything and who is being leaned on doesn’t trust the other person to be capable. Which of course only makes the other person less trustworthy of being capable. Oh it’s so very complicated isn’t it Lisa? But oh how I love reading about these things on your blog and I love reading all the comments. I often go away thinking about things in an entirely new way!
It’s so funny that you mention the errand to the grocery store… My father’s second wife is also a narcissist (my mothers ex best friend-oy!) but I remember she used to send her kids to the stores for her even when they were very young. Wow. Even back when I was a kid myself, and saw her doing this, I knew something was wrong with her.
It is funny when you look back and see how small and silly it is. LOL! Time is definitely helpful in such cases. I’m glad your chapters are closed.
You’re right about fear being tied up in codependency. In order to break some of those patterns it takes so much courage, especially when you’re faced with resistance and disapproval. I think there’s a lot of fear that if you stop care taking you’ll be unloved.
It is complicated.
I was going down the list of 10 things to see if you’re codependent and I can honestly say I don’t think I am. I can say NO to people, I’m not afraid of conflict or confrontation, I won’t walk on egg shells for anyone, etc. I do think that I, as Dawn said in a previous post, love hard. I think I’m too hopeful and sacrifice too much of myself in relationships. Oh, and I can be a bit of a control freak! Haha! But other than that, I think I’m too aware and my self esteem is too healthy to be considered a true codependent. I can identify with these issues in a big way, only because I grew up surrounded by these dynamics. I think my two sisters got the worst of it. That’s when being a middle child comes in handy. 🙂
Sometimes while I’m writing these posts I start to feel like they’re so boring! I imagine people going, “oh no, not another one!” lol! Then I get such thoughtful responses and I’m relieved. Your comments are always like a breath of fresh air. I can actually feel the happy state your in, free and easy, everything about you, Linda, feels light. Ahhh. Your perspective, thoughts, feelings, and humor are such gifts to me. 🙂
Lisa! My father left my mother for my mother’s best friend (and next door neighbor!) I could hardly believe it when I read that! I remember one day last summer. I was sitting on my deck reading a book when her name just popped into my head. (It’s Margaret Rohde.) And I thought, I think she died. (I have no contact with her.) So I googled her name and up came an obituary that said Margaret Rohde died and it was dated the day before! But it turned out to be a completely different Margaret Rohde. Isn’t that weird? I have esp but for the wrong people!! LOL!!
And isn’t that something that she sent her kids to the store at a really young age. It must be yet another sign of narcissism. I would love it if you would do a post about narcissism. I only realized a couple years ago that my parents suffered from this and after I realized it everything fell into place and I wasn’t so mad at them anymore. They had a condition! Truly. It had nothing to do with me! Oh what a relief that was to realize that.
You’re posts are always the farthest thing from boring Lisa. I was thinking this morning before I even got out of bed about this post. And a lot of people have encouraged you to write a book and I think you should too. But a book doesn’t have a conversation and a back and forth with it’s readers like a blog does. A blog is so much more valuable to readers. Especially the kinds of things you write about Lisa. Things that help everyone. We are all so much alike in the things we’ve been dealing with our whole lives. And yet so many of us feel like we’re isolated or the only people who have experienced the kinds of things we deal with when just the opposite is true. That’s why your blog has such a healing force to it and that’s why we all love it and YOU so much Lisa.
I can tell that you are very together, even with all the sadness you’ve had to deal with. So much of your strength comes through in your writing and your commenting.
I guess I am in a pretty happy state right now. I guess it’s good to be 61! You get to leave behind all the things that used to bother you so much. I guess you just get to a point when you say hey if I don’t start enjoying my life, pretty soon it’s going to be over. It’s now or never! Which is a great motivator! At least for someone like me. Thank you Lisa for all our kind words. I am so lucky to know you and count you as my friend! xoxo 😀 ❤
I’m hysterical that you have ESP for the wrong people!!! Lol! But isn’t it spooky how our parents have such similar stuff?
After years of doing therapy, that is the one thing I can say with total certainty- we all think we’re so unique and that we come from such dysfunction, but the reality is, that our stories are very similar!! There’s never a need to walk around feeling isolated, like the only one with problems – we are one big human family, dealing with the same mixed up emotions. 🙂
I’ll write about narcissism next week. That will be a good one. By the way, speaking of narcissism… Have you seen that girl on trial for killing her boyfriend? Chilling. She’s on the stand this week. She makes Casey Anthony look like a saint. One of the Dr.s said she’s so ego driven that she’s enjoying the current spotlight. She’s super scary.
Thanks for your kind words. I really like my membership in this mutual admiration society! Xoxox
Lisa, your posts are very interesting, and I like teh way you not only write about your life and likes, but also about this kind of things – it’s like a very reliable source of information.
As perfection does not exist, I think it’s normal everyone recognises some of the symptoms. But I wonder, those symptoms aren’t always caused by the family situation, right? Can’t they be a result of your own character? Or is that just blindness for the influence of your family?
Thanks, Astrid. That’s a good question. If you feel like you have a relatively healthy family and don’t have those covert rules, and you find yourself with some of those symptoms, then it’s likely situational, or as you said, part of your personality. If you find that you have many of those symptoms and they interfere with relationships, then you know there’s a bigger issue.
Our families/parents are the greatest influence on us. It’s within our family that we learn what love is and what it feels like – how to love and be loved. We also learn about anger, stress, anxiety, depression, etc. and how to cope with these emotions. Everything is modeled for us through our parents or caregiver. Yes, we all have our own characters and personalities but they are greatly influenced by our family system. (Children are like sponges.)
The healthier a family is, and the more freedom they allow it’s members, the more your true character, personality or spirit will shine through.
The most unhealthy families produce children who are nervously trying to be something different or behave in a way that is pleasing to someone else. These children hide who they really are (feeling they’ll be rejected) in order to gain approval and love and stay out of emotional trouble.
Great post, Lisa. You made it really easy to understand. I think I may have tendencies of codependency. Is that possible? I think in my family, there’s mostly a lot of denial, until of of course, there could be no more denying. It took years and years for that to happen.
Yeah, absolutely. I definitely have tendencies. It’s almost as if there is unhealthy stuff laying there dormant until someone or something triggers it. When that happens, it feels like we’re 10 years old again. The trick is to just be uber aware of the tendencies and know your triggers. When old coping like denial, blame and avoidance, rear their ugly heads you know something is up.
Great comment. Thanks for always being such a thoughtful contributor, Amy 🙂