Codependency is a sickness; it’s an unhealthy love. Co-dependents generally have good intentions but low self-esteem and go looking for something outside of themselves to make them feel better. The consequences of maintaining a co-dependent approach to life is often a lot of resentment, frustration and unmet personal needs.
Codependents try to take care of people but the caretaking becomes compulsive and defeating. They project the illusion that they are caring when in reality it is the act of keeping others dependent on themselves that fulfills their needs. They find it hard to ‘be themselves’; some codependents seek solace through alcohol, drugs, and nicotine. Others develop compulsive behaviours such as work holism, gambling or indiscriminate sexual activity.
Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including families, at work, in friendships and romantic relationships. It often involves putting one’s needs at a lower priority than others while being excessively preoccupied with fulfilling the needs of others. When co-dependents place other people’s health, welfare and safety above their own, they lose contact with their own needs, desires, and sense of self. This false sense of reward and satisfaction from “being needed” further traps the codependent in the relationship.
Mental Health America states “Co-dependents often take on a martyr’s role and become “benefactors” to an individual in need. A wife may cover for her alcoholic husband; a mother may make excuses for a truant child; or a father may “pull some strings” to keep his child from suffering the consequences of delinquent behavior.”
The important lesson to learn from any type of dependency, be it drugs of addiction, food or relationships, is that as soon as that ‘drug’ wears off, you will want more and more each time of what we perceive brings comfort.
And if that’s not possible, then one will revert to anger and different forms of emotional manipulation to get what one perceives to be a need. Need and greed can often be confused. We live in the illusion that more is satisfying or gratifying, when in actual fact it is reinforcing the habit of dependency, slavery and in some cases, ultimately death.
Research states that people with co-dependency are also more likely to attract further abuse from aggressive individuals, more likely to stay in stressful jobs or relationships, less likely to seek medical attention when needed and are also less likely to get promotions and tend to earn less money than those without co-dependency patterns.(Wikipedia)
Dependency almost always begins with the way we think. Some people just can’t have a good day until they have had their bout of complaining and grouching. Together with their morning coffee, they like to begin their day with a dose of negative thoughts! Others are addicted to the Cinderella complex – poor me! And they go around thinking they are the victims and the world revolves around them. This mind-set doesn’t serve anyone!
Hence every spiritual path advocates surrendering or abandoning addictions. They distract us; defocus us from our real pursuit of transcendental peace and bliss. They hold us tightly within the reigns of an illusion that pain will be assuaged or feelings of deprivation will be satiated some day! And we keep hoping and praying.
The feelings of deprivation or emptiness drive us to go looking for that secret elixir. Much of the lack is more in our mind than in our life. The pursuit for happiness will not be met by being propped up from outside, but through a closer connection with our inside.
The first step is to acknowledge the damage this dependency is having on my relationships, my health and my finances. Is this how I am choosing to live my life? With more difficult issues such as drugs of addiction, one may need professional help together with intense work on building ones own self-respect and with that the sense of deserving better in life.
The second step is to be reflective and acknowledge that everything I need is right here, right now, inside of me. Nothing extra can complete me. When we look for completion from outside ourselves, we attempt frantically within relationships to hold so tightly on to our object of desire that we only succeed in suffocating it, or driving it away.
The third step is to be cautious not to perpetuate more negative karma with people around me. If I am enabling others’ addictions, then I am a shareholder in their negative karma.
And fourthly, if I am to be codependent, then let me be dependent on God. He is the one being who will never let me down. He is always giving and ready to empower me.
Its time… to reflect on our dependencies. By changing patterns of thinking and increasing self worth, we are able to be self-contained and take inner strength from our close relationship with God. Independence does not mean to be isolated or alone, but it means choosing to not take pain ever again from relationships.
© ‘It’s Time…’ by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK