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If You’re Overly Dependent, Probably It Is Due to the Scars of Childhood

If You’re Overly Dependent, Probably It Is Due to the Scars of Childhood

When you suspect that you or someone you know may suffer from co-dependence, you may start wondering where these traits originated. Why do some people become co-dependant and others do not? And is there any definitive answer about what causes it?

A Psychological Definition of Co-dependence

Assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, Jonathan Becker said:

“Codependency can be defined as any relationship in which two people become so invested in each other that they can’t function independently anymore. Your mood, happiness and identity are defined by the other person. In a codependent relationship, there is usually one person who is more passive and can’t make decisions for themselves, and a more dominant personality who gets some reward and satisfaction from controlling the other person and making decisions about how they will live.” [1]

Codependency Always Come from Childhood

Everyone’s journey to becoming co-dependent may begin in different ways, but most often it stems from childhood. It is identified in the upbringing along with the parent’s inability to provide a stable and secure environment.

In these situations, the following things could occur [2]:

The child has to be the caretaker

When parents are not able to take on their parenting duties, the role falls on the child. In these cases, the child may be responsible for cleaning, cooking, looking after their younger siblings and also keeping an eye on the parents.

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The child is taught to be a people-pleaser

Because of the environment described above, the child has to balance keeping everyone happy.

The child needs to take up so much responsibility

Part of the childhood becomes lost because their mature responsibilities far outweigh their age.

The child learns that people who love them can also hurt them

This is particularly common in families with emotional or physical abuse. The child knows they can be let down by those close to them.

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The child is often scared

The childhood environment was scary in many ways. There was no solid stability and each day could be quite different. Some days the child may have been upset, worried, stressed or even cried. As an adult, this can lead to anxiety or the fear of being alone.

The child develops low self-esteem

They are often exposed to circumstances where they do not feel worthy and feel that something is wrong with them [3].

Common Personality Traits You May Discover in Co-dependent People 

  • Easily Feel Undervalued: Despite the enormous effort to go out of their way to help the other person, they regularly feel undervalued.
  • Tend to Please: Attempting to please people with the hope that it will help in gaining approval or love.
  • Easily Feel Self-Blame: Feeling responsibility for the behavior of others, and as a result, they often blame themselves for other people’s bad behavior or simply make excuses for the person.
  • Fear of Loneliness: An innate fear of being alone, rejected or unloved.
  • Be Overly Responsible: Feeling responsible for fixing other people’s problems.
  • Inability to walk away from unhealthy relationships because they are unable to let go, despite that person not being a positive figure in their life.
  • Devalue the Self-Value: Other people’s needs often come before their own.
  • Difficult in Self-Expression: Difficulty in communicating as freely as they would like or in making decisions in a relationship.
  • Low self-esteem and abandonment issues.
  • Crave for Others’ Approval: Valuing validation and approval from others more than their own [4].

Some Questions to Help You Check If You Are Co-dependent

  • Are you scared to stand up for yourself if you are receiving physical or emotional abuse?
  • Do you do take on more than your own share of work at home or at work?
  • Are you reliant on others to feel good about yourself?
  • Do you have low self-esteem?
  • Do you regularly put the needs of others before your own?
  • Do you feel responsible when other people do wrong things?

If you were affected by this article, be sure to read my other article about steps you can take to change this pattern.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

[1] Everyday Health: Do You Have a Codependent Personality?
[2] Psych Central: What Causes Codependency?
[3] PsychCentral: What Causes Codependency?
[4] Recovery Connection: Top Ten Indicators that You Suffer from Codependency

More by this author

J.S. von Dacre

Writer at Lifehack

Alert: If You Always Avoid Things You Fear, You May Have This Issue 10 Best Romance Movies That Reflect the Harsh Reality of Relationships Things Parents Do Unconsciously That Make Their Kids Become Codependent If You’re Overly Dependent, Probably It Is Due to the Scars of Childhood 90% of People Confuse Codependency with Intense Love. Are You One of Them?

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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