Do you often find yourself putting other people in your life before yourself? Has this caused you to neglect your own needs and wants? Maybe you tell yourself this is just how you are and you are happy to always put others first. If so this could be a sign of being codependent. This is something that often accompanies other mental health struggles. It makes it so that we never give ourselves the care we need.
What is Codependency?
Codependency is a term thrown around quite often today that is not always used in the most accurate way. Codependency is a pattern of behaviors. It involves us diminishing our own needs so that we can meet the needs of others. Frequently we feel that others are more important than ourselves. As PsychCentral puts it, “It is when compassion turns to a compulsion to care for others. It feels as if you are living someone else’s life for them. You give up your own desires and needs to keep others happy.”
Codependency Often Develops Alongside Other Mental Health Disorders
This often develops alongside trauma, anxiety, and other mental health disorders as a way for us to cope with what is going on in our lives. Often times when working with clients that present with codependent behaviors I come to find that they learned it growing up with a family that was neglectful or abusive. Or they enter into abusive relationships later in life that force them to be codependent.
A Coping Mechanism
We can be taught by family or partners that are codependent themselves. Or develop it as a survival mechanism to deal with anxiety about abandonment from those we care about. Regardless of what causes us to develop this way, the result is that we become so used to putting our own needs to the side of others that we neglect ourselves and feel spread too thin. This is not a sustainable place to be. However, because we become so used to it we often don’t notice until we collapse.
Diminishing Yourself For Someone Else
What codependency often results in is a cycle of anticipating someone else’s needs before they ask. As a result, we begin diminishing parts of ourselves that may cause conflict. We do this to provide a false feeling of intimacy with that person that doesn’t satisfy us in a real way. This often leads to chasing after those few moments of connection. Or frequently being in a constant state of anxiety over what that person wants. All the while feeling inadequate and on edge.
Codependency Can Lead to Destructive Behaviors
Because we are so focused on what others think about us while dismissing ourselves this often leads to staying in abusive relationships longer than we should. Or ignoring our own intuition about others. One of the things I see often with clients struggling with codependency is that they have gotten so used to putting others first that they have trouble with their self-identity and have taken on others’ desires without realizing it.
How Empower Counseling Can Help
As mentioned above, one of the problems I work on with clients that have codependent tendencies is learning what their self-identity is again and how to put themselves before others. What this means is not becoming a totally selfish person, but how to healthily balance our needs with that of others while also realizing how working on ourselves also helps those around us.
We Can’t care for others if we don’t first care for ourselves
One thing I often say to clients about this is that if we never stop pouring ourselves into others then we eventually run dry. And then we can’t help anyone. We have to learn how to take care of our own needs so that we can be there for those we care about. Another part of working on this with clients is teaching them about the importance of self-love and learning ways to build this. By filling the space within ourselves we have been trying to fill with others we can start making better choices in life because they are what we want, not out of desperation to appease others.
Begin Online therapy in Alabama with Empower Counseling
If you have realized how your codependent tendencies have been affecting you and want to make a change to your life reach out to us about counseling. We can help you to make the changes you have been wanting and refocus your life back onto yourself! EMPOWER IS HERE TO HELP YOU. Find the courage to take the first step by reaching out. You will not be going on this journey alone. I’ll be with you offering support and encouragement the entire time. When you’re ready to live the life you’ve always wanted for yourself, follow these steps:
1. Fill out an appointment request.
2. Get to know one of our caring online counselors.
3. Start your healing journey where you feel the most comfortable.
Other counseling services in Birmingham, al
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