We all appreciate the feeling of being needed; however, the way in which we go about cultivating that need may lend itself to unhealthy relationship patterns. Co-dependency is the need to look outside one’s self in order to feel better. In most cases, co-dependents are well-intentioned, setting out to care for or help someone experiencing difficulty. Sounds like good people, right? The care-taking is not offered without expectations, sometimes intentionally, sometimes subconsciously. The individual being cared for rarely meets the giver’s expectations for gratitude.This leaves the co-dependent feeling unappreciated and taken advantage, of further lowering self-esteem.
Below is a list of characteristics of co-dependent individuals:
1. Need to control others
2. Feelings of guilt when asserting self
3. Sense of responsibility for the actions of others
4.Tendency to become hurt when efforts aren’t recognized
5. Lack of trust in self and others
6. Difficulty adjusting to change
7. Fear of being abandoned
8. Lack of trust in self and others
9. Difficulty making choices
10. Confusion of love and empathy
If you find yourself feeling familiar with many of the above characteristics it may be time to evaluate some of the relationships in your life. Co-dependency can be effectively treated through therapy in individual and group settings. Therapy often focuses on processing family of origin relationships norms as well as past trauma. Effective treatment can allow individuals access to their full range of emotions, as well as increased sense of self-worth.