Monday, December 3, 2012

Characteristics of a Codependent

Codependent is a tough word.  Not just because it makes you sound like something's wrong with you, but because it's also very hard to define.  It's hard to define because the spectrum of what is, and is not, a codependent is so broad.  Everyone exhibits some characteristics of codependency at some time or another in just about every relationship that they have.  However, you cross over into Crazyville when these characteristics define you more often than they don't.  Crazyville has been visited by every adult at some point in their lives, but it's those of us who take up residence there that need help. Understanding is the beginning of helping yourself. 

Here's a short list to help you determine if you've taken up residence, or if you've just passed through, or are passing through:

1.  True codependents have a very difficult time saying, "No".  Just no.  No explanation, no added words to justify our "No".  Just no. 

2.  They are very often irritated when someone doesn't take their "help" to heart.  After all, what's the point in helping if they won't listen, right?  (you need to insert sarcasm into that last part)  Most often, a codependent offers "help" whether they're asked for it or not.  Then they feel a little pissed when their helpful advice isn't taken and applied.  They can even victimize themselves because if you'd just have listened you wouldn't be in the mess you're in.  (more sarcasm there)

3.  Do you have a history of addiction in your family?  Either immediate or extended?  There's almost always (I use the term "almost" very loosely, there) a codependent somewhere around addiction. 

4.  Do you judge everything you do, think or want very harshly?  Sometimes to the point that your internal voice tells you that you aren't good enough, or simply aren't enough, period?   Do you walk away from simple conversations questioning everything you said to see if it was the "right" thing to say?  Do you call yourself "fat", "stupid", "silly", "dumb", etc...inside your head in a condemning way?

5.  Do you constantly seek attention, or recognition, for everything you do or what you think you "deserve"? 

6.  Do you do things for others so that they'll "like you"?  Do you lavish material things on people so they'll "like" you or think you're a good person?  Do you offer your time to people, so that they'll think you're "selfless" and caring?

7.  Do you do _________ ( fill in the blank), so that others will ______________(fill in the blank)?   Instead of simply asking for what you need or want, you try to do something so that you will "get" something.  This is manipulation at it's finest.  Recognize it for what it is.

8.  Does your need to feel needed become the basis for your relationships?  In other words, if someone doesn't openly express their "need" of you, then they must not really like you or think you're important and you can't be content unless you're needed somewhere.  You become restless and have feelings of low self-worth if you aren't "helping" or aren't "needed" somewhere by someone.

9.  Does your self-worth come from what others think of you?  If someone doesn't like you do you go out of your way to "make" them like you?  Even going so far as doing something you actually don't like so that they'll like you better?  

10.  Do you say yes when you really mean no?    The Bible tells us that God doesn't recognize something given under compulsion, but only a cheerful giver.  In other words, when you give when you don't really want to, only because you feel like you "should" or because you can't say no, then you aren't doing anyone a kindness...especially yourself. 

11. Do you communicate evasively to avoid confrontation? Would you rather just agree, even when something is very wrong and needs to be addressed?  I'm talking about when confrontation is needed, not just to be a jerk. There's a difference. 

12. Do you judge others extremely harshly?

13.  Are you a drama queen/king?  Everything is a huge deal, or you'll make it big deal.  Do you seek out drama and that's when you feel the most "alive"?

14.  Do you place your wants and needs on the back burner and justify that by saying that you're being a "good" person who gives of themselves and cares for others?  Do you do this to the point that your health, life, job, or other relationships have suffered? Do you justify doing this with your religion? 

15.  Do you stay in relationships that you know aren't healthy because you want to be "loyal" and thought of in a "positive" light by others? 

16.  Do you often feel numb to your emotions?  Have been in a situation where you know you should be angry/sad/happy and yet couldn't feel the feeling?  Did you fake a feeling because you "should" feel it?

17.  Does your personality change depending on who you are around?  Do you know you do that, but can't stop doing it or see nothing wrong with changing who you are to fit the "group"? 

18.  Do you fear stating your true thoughts, emotions, needs, wants, etc...and tell yourself that you're simply "avoiding confrontation"?   Or do you do this so that others won't know the real you or so that someone/anyone will like you more? Do you think you'll be viewed as "weak" if you cry or express a need that you can't meet on your own? 

19.  Do you try to control the behavior of other people by manipulation, lying, whining, ignoring them, withdrawing emotionally, with sex, etc...?  Do you think that if you lose control of something, it will all just fall to pieces? 

While this list doesn't cover all aspects of co-dependency, it's a very good start. If you answered yes to most or even half of these questions, you could pick up a book at the library to study more about what codependency is and what it is not, or call a shrink.  Being healthy is a GOOD thing!!  

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