“Do you think I’m codependent?” I asked as I sat in my therapist’s office. I was trying to recover from my recent discovery that my husband of 22 years had been cheating on me. I’m not even sure where the word ‘codependent’ came into my awareness or why it had occurred to me to ask her. In hindsight, I thought what she did next was a bit strange.
She stood up, walked across the room to a filing cabinet. After she rummaged through some papers, she pulled a page out and walked back across the room and handed it to me. Then she said, “We’re all a little codependent.”.
Wow. Just Wow.
Narrator: She was indeed, and most definitely is ‘codependent’.
I found it curious that she had to get me a piece of paper to explain codependency to me and that she spent very little time educating me or trying to discover my codependent patterns in relating.
Needless to say, I found a new therapist when I finally mustered the courage to leave my marriage, who promptly urged me to attend a weekly Codependents Anonymous (CODA) meeting. I spent 1 year attending those meetings. In fact, I still have all the milestone chips I earned over that year. They provided me with great support and insight into who I am, how I got this way, and why I do what I do.
By this point you may be asking, just what is CODEPENDENCY?
Quite simply, codependency is a covert bid for power or control. I also have learned to define it as an agreement between two people to repeat unconscious patterns.
Yes, they are short concise definitions, but man are they loaded.
Codependency is in essence outsourcing your sense of well being to someone or something.
When we start to examine our relational dynamics with others, there is a huge percentage of those interactions that have some sort of codependent undertone. Very rarely do we make direct requests to others to meet our needs, wants or desires. We drop hints. We pout. We maneuver. We coerce. We manipulate. We become resentful or sick in our bodies.
I can hear you saying, “Well Jill, you make it sound so evil!” Not at all. We are all just a bunch of kids walking around in grown-up bodies trying to feel safe or get our needs met. Sadly, we learned this behavior in childhood for survival. There’s nothing evil about that.
Aren’t we direct? Most likely because our needs didn’t get met when we were young. We learned very early on that others’ needs were more important than our own, or our caregivers were just plain incapable of meeting our needs.
Yet, somehow all of this sounds so weak or needy. At least to me it did. Yet I’m strong, independent and capable. So when I heard a podcast recently on the topic of high achieving, high functioning codependency, my ears perked up.
The Mark Groves Podcast guest was Boundary Boss herself, Terri Cole. Terri is a licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert and author. She specializes in codependency and their antidote: healthy boundaries.
Terri shared some hallmark indicators of what codependency looks like in high achieving people.
You may be wondering, ‘Do I have the disease-to-please?’ or like I asked my therapist that day, “Am I Codependent?”.
Here are 10 indicators you may be a High Functioning Codependent:
Feeling responsible for solving the problems of other people
Feeling used and unappreciated for all you do
Offering advice to others whether they’ve asked you or not
Expecting others to do what you say
Taking things personally and personalizing the problems of others in your life
Feeling like a victim
Trying to please others in order to obtain their love and acceptance
Using manipulation, guilt and shame to get what you want.
Making excuses for the bad behavior of others
I’m going to leave that right there and back away slowly…
I will be back in the future to talk more about each of these things and how they might show up in your life.
And if you’re ready to begin healing your codependent patterns I highly recommend you join us in The Membership for all the tools and support you need to heal your codependency and begin creating healthy boundaries and standards in your life from a place of wholeness and integration.
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