Definition Of Codependency: Codependency is a condition that results in a dysfunctional relationship between the codependent and other people. A codependent is addicted to helping someone. They need to be needed. This addiction is sometimes so strong, the codependent will cause the other person to continue to be needy. This behavior is called enabling. The enabler will purposefully overlook someone abusing a child, will call in sick for someone suffering from addiction, will put roadblocks to prevent their child from becoming independent, or even keep a sick family member from getting the treatment that would make them well. These are behaviors common to codependents. A codependent often suffers from a 'Messiah Complex' where he sees problems with everyone and sees himself as the only person who can help. Here is where I need to work...trying to be 'Mr. Fixit' for everyone...even those who don't feel they need anything fixed. A codependent counselor (common) will never think your sessions are done. In fact, they often create issues that weren't there just so they can continue to feel they're an important, no, essential part of your life. This is one of the reasons I always spend the first counseling session evaluating the problem and setting up a schedule of sessions to complete the work. If we're not making progress, I don't want to become the person you feel you have to take every problem to...it's too addictive to me. That's what codependence is...an addiction to being needed. To learn more, try one of these recent top-selling books on the definition and treatment of codependency.
Codependency Test: Take this test to find out if you're helping people who need or needing people to help:
1. Do you feel demeaned, hurt or offended when someone you love tells you they don't need your help?
2. In the last year, has anyone resorted to arguing, begging or raising their voice to get you to stop trying to help them?
3. If you had plenty of money and your child, sibling or parent had an addiction to drinking, spending, gambling or drugs, and they asked you for money to help with their necessary expenses (food, rent, clothes, bills), would you give them the money?
4. When someone shares a life or relationship problem with you, but doesn't ask for help, do you offer help or advice, anyway?
5. When you survey your relationships, do you find yourself surrounded by mostly people who need you?
6. Do you ever find yourself making excuses for the needy people in your life?
7. If someone you love has a substance abuse, emotional, spending or gambling problem, do you avoid confronting them?
8. Do you measure your self-esteem by how much someone depends on you?
9. Do you ever remind people where they would be without you?
A. If you answered 'yes' to any of the above, read the rest of this article and monitor yourself for the next 3 months to verify your answers.
B. If you answered 'yes' to 3 or more of the above, you may have a codependency problem. Read the rest of this article, get a trusted friend who is independent of you to keep you accountable, and read a couple books on the subject of codependence.
C. If you answered 'yes' to 5 or more of the above, do 'A' & 'B' above and ask your friend to attend an alanon, narconon or codependents anonymous meeting with you.
Causes Of Codependency: Many codependents, like other addicts, blame the people around them for their problem, or, more accurately, use them to deny their problem. 'I'm not codependent, I just love them so much.' 'It's just that they need so much help.' 'They couldn't get along without me.' Let's face the facts...the needy people in your life need to learn to take care of themselves, take responsibility for their own problems and begin to solve them. If you'd stop bailing them out, they'd learn to handle life's challenges, themselves. So, actually, you're hurting them! (we're not talking about a rare emergancy situation...we're talking about a lifestyle of needyness.) I remember how upset I was when, in my early 20's, my mother told me to get a job and move out of her house. It was the best thing she could have done for me. I resented her for at least 5 years. If you can be as strong as my Mom with the habitually needy around you, you're not codepentent. Codependency, like any other addiction, is caused by a feeling of emptiness...a low self-esteem. Instead of a drug, a codependent uses the needs of others to make themselves feel whole. That's why no one around them is allowed to recover...the codependent wouldn't be needed.