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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

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Last Updated on April 1, 2019

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

When we talk about happiness, we often think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity. Many try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as their ultimate goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from them.

But, what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?

It’s a lot like your favorite food. The more often you have it isn’t always better. On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite. So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

Always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

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Video Summary

Don’t Assume Others Are Always Happy

Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time. Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales. On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives. So, it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life. Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires have their own set of challenges and problems.

When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve. As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time. During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals. But, I got through them; and, weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

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You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.  Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time now seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

Stop Trying to Be Happy–Just Be

It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.

So what can we do?

First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness. Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect. It’s through experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing similar trials. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

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To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.

It sounds like a paradox. But, what I mean is to accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life. Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

Understand the importance of gratitude. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment, flash back your memory to when you didn’t have something. I like to think about my career, for example. When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated. I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me. But, when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful! This memory keeps me going when I hit tough spots. It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Happiness and Sadness Exist Together

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments–happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories. But, your life will also be filled with rain and storms that never seem like they will pass while you’re going through them.

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But, whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.

Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones. Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”. In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements. Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

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