Are you codependent? Take this short quiz and see if you identify with codependency.

1. I am in a relationship with someone who is addicted to a substance or a behavior, or someone who is depressed.
2. I feel responsible for almost everybody and everything, but I feel guilty much of the time.
3. I can’t say ‘no’ without feeling guilty.
4. I can accurately ‘read’ other people by analyzing their facial expressions and tone of voice.
5. I try very hard to please people, but I seldom measure up.
6. I feel that I have to protect people, especially the addicted or depressed person in my life.
7. I live in such a way that no one can say I’m selfish.
8. I vacillate between defending the irresponsible person and blowing up in anger at them.
9. I often relive situations and conversations to see if I can think of some way I could have done or spoken better.
10. I am overly frightened of angry people.
11. I am terribly offended by personal criticism.
12. To avoid feeling guilt and shame, I seldom stand up to people who disagree with me.
13. I tend to see people and situations as “all good” or “all bad”.
14. Though I try to please people, I often feel isolated and alone.
15. I trust people too much or not at all.
16. I often try to get people I love to change their attitudes and behavior.
17. I tend to believe the addicted or depressed person’s promises, even if he/she has broken countless promises before.
18. Sometimes I have a lot of energy to help people, but sometimes I feel drained, depressed and ambivalent.
19. I often give advice, even when it is not requested.
20. I tend to confuse love with pity, and I tend to love those who need me to rescue them from their problems.
21. I believe I can’t be happy unless others, especially the needy people in my life, are happy.
22. I am often a victim in strained and broken relationships.
23. I am defensive when someone points out my faults.
24. My thoughts are often consumed with the troubles and needs of the addicted or depressed person in my life.
25. I feel wonderful when I can fix other’s problems, but I feel terrible when I can’t.

If you answered yes to 5 or fewer statements, you have relatively healthy boundaries, confidence or wisdom in relationships.

If you answered yes to 6-12 statements, your life is shaped to a significant degree by the demands of needy people in your life. You feel responsible for the choices others make, and you try too hard to help them make the right ones.

If you answered yes to 13 or more statements, you have lost your sense of identity, and you are consumed by the problems of addicted or depressed person’s in your life. You have to take steps to get well whether that person does or not.

Codependency involves a habitual system of thinking, feeling and behaving towards others and ourselves. It is a learned behavior, and again, is one of those side effects of a lack of healthy boundaries in life. Codependent characteristics are demeaning and can cause pain, and the habits become self-destructive.

Some of the common characteristics of codependency are:

1. Care taking – This is where one feels as though they are responsible for other people’s thoughts, opinions, actions, choices, beliefs, well being, etc. If you feel like making a choice that would make someone unhappy with you, not only do you wrestle with codependency, but also enmeshment with another person, which I briefly discussed last Friday I believe.
If you feel compelled to solve another person’s problem, or feel anxiety, pity and guilt over other’s problem’s to the extent that you feel you need to be the one who has to rescue or ‘make it better for them’ at great expense to your own well being, you have adopted a care taking role in someone else’s life. Codependency and enmeshment often go hand in hand.
Do you try to please others instead of yourself? Try to anticipate their needs, feel safer when giving? Do you feel sad when you spend all your energy, resources, and life… giving to other people and feel like nobody ever gives to you? Do you feel bored or empty or worthless when you are NOT helping someone overcome a crisis, or a problem in life, or someone to help?

2. Low self-worth – codependents tend to come from troubled, dysfunctional families. They may deny that their family was/is dysfunctional – after all, if it’s all you knew, it WOULD feel ‘normal’. Do you blame yourself for everything – including taking responsibility for someone else’s displeasure with you or your choices? Are you afraid to make mistakes? Do you reject compliments or praise? Do you feel like you are not good enough? Do you fear rejection? Do you feel ashamed of who you are? Do you often tell yourself you can’t do anything right, or other self critical, self destructive, self hatred type of language? Do you think life is not worth living, or believe that good things will never happen? Do you try and prove that you are good enough for other people? Do you settle for being needed, and diminish your own needs?

3. Repression – Do you push aside your thoughts or feelings because of fear or guilt or to gain someone’s conditional approval that if you perform the way they want that maybe you will finally feel the acceptance you desperately need? I am here to say, if you are pushing yourself aside because someone does not approve of your choices, not only are you harming yourself, you are also accepting conditional acceptance, based on your performance, rather than on genuine, authentic acceptance, that loves you and accepts you regardless if your choices, values, or opinions are different than theirs. This is real love. Anything less than that is settling for enmeshment rather than intimacy, and it is not REAL love. You have great worth and value. Are you afraid to be yourself? Have you lost your sense of self because you have become enmeshed with someone else?

4. Obsession – Do you worry about the smallest things? Are you super careful with what you say and how you present yourself to others? Do you feel anxious and/or responsible for other people’s problems? Are you more concerned with other people’s problems while repressing your own needs and feelings? Do you focus all your energy on other people and their problems? Do you lose sleep over problems or other people’s behavior? Do you worry a lot? What are you worried about? Finding the answer to that might just be the root, or at least the door to understanding the root issue.

5. Dependency – Do you feel unhappy with yourself, or lack peace and contentment? Do you look for happiness outside of yourself, in other people or addictions? Do you find yourself latching on to whoever or whatever you think will provide happiness? Did you feel loved and approved of by your parents? Careful now, before you say yes. Was their love and approval based on how well you performed according to their standards? Ie. if you successfully made it through university or picked the career of their choice for you? Or did they still love and approve of you even if you made decisions different than what they would have chosen for you? Do you feel like you need people more than you want them, like you can’t make it without them? Do you find yourself worrying or wondering or constantly making assumptions about whether people love you or like you or not? Do you believe that people are never there for you?

6. Poor communication – Codependents frequently blame, coerce, beg, advise, don’t say what they mean, don’t mean what they say, don’t know what they mean, or how to communicate it. They tend to not ask for what they need, or ask indirectly, leaving it a guessing game for others to try and interpret their needs. They find it difficult to get to the point they are trying to make, gauge their words carefully to achieve a desired effect, try to say what they think people want to hear. This is where people pleasing comes into play here.

7. Lack of trust – codependents don’t trust themselves, don’t trust their feelings, decisions, or other people.

Many codependents feel very hurt, scared and angry, have weak boundaries, struggle with having allowed themselves to be controlled, and often try to control the outcome of events in their current life. They may struggle with denial, sex issues, be extremely over responsible, or become irresponsible. They may struggle with feeling close to people, or wrestle with depression, among many other symptoms of the same root we have been discussing for the past few weeks -poor boundary development. Many of these symptoms first emerge out of necessity to protect ourselves from harm, and because legitimate needs we had were not met. and
These methods tend to feel like safe coping mechanisms to try and meet our needs indirectly. We think… If I meet someone else’s needs, they will reciprocate and meet mine. But instead, what usually happens, is that they just continue to take what we offer, and do not give back what we are looking for and desperately in need of. We are taking responsibility for them, neglecting our own needs, something we each our responsible for. We need to become safe enough to ask for what we need. We need to take responsibility for our needs and getting them met, rather then expecting others to automatically know, or mind read to try and figure out what it is we need.

This is just to get you thinking. I may need to circle back to this subject at a later time more extensively, but for now, this is an introduction to codependency. The roots of which, stem from, as I mentioned before… Lack of healthy boundary development.

If you’d like to look at a great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!

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How have you felt impacted by codependency?  What have you done that has helped break this cycle?  What resources can you share with the community that has helped you?  If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to identify and break codependency in your life!

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach

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