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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 October 20, 2020

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Hope is not a strategy when it comes to change. Commitment is what is needed to make real change happen. Can people change? Absolutely, but exchanging your excuses for commitment is necessary to get started.

Human nature leans toward habits, which can become ingrained over the years, but that doesn’t mean habits can be undone.

The good news is that your personality and behaviors can be changed, but it is up to you. Below are some tips to help you get started with change.

1. Figure out What You Need to Change

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of something you would like to change. That’s great! The first step toward change is acknowledging that you have something you need to change.

Look at the repeated problems in your life, the issues that seem to come up time and time again. Do you keep gravitating toward the wrong relationships, but you blame the people you are choosing, rather than looking at your problem in the selection process?

Do you jump from one job to another, yet blame co-workers and bosses, rather than look at what you may be doing to cause problems and dissatisfaction on the job?

We are creatures of habit, so look at the negative patterns in your life. Then, look inside to see what’s causing these repeated life problems to occur. If you can’t figure it out on your own, consider going to a counselor for better understanding. Once you recognize the area that requires change, you can move to the next step.

2. Believe That Change Is Indeed Possible

There are people out there who believe that personality is unchangeable. When confronted with their problem, such as constant negativity, they lash back with “that’s just who I am.” It may be who you are, but does it need to be?

Change in personality and behaviors is possible. Nobody stays the same from one year to the next, let alone across a decade, so why not move change in the direction that is best for you? Be proactive about the change you want in your life, including the belief that change can occur.

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Look for success stories and people who have changed and done what you so deeply desire to do. Seeing that others have been where you have are and have accomplished the change you desire will help you in your process to accomplish that change.

3. List the Benefits of This Change

In order for people to change, they need to buy into the premise that the change is necessary for their betterment. For example, maybe your goal is to be more productive at work. There are many benefits that could come from this, including:

  • Getting more done in a shorter amount of time.
  • Having more time for your family.
  • Getting a promotion
  • Being liked and appreciated by your boss.
  • Being part of the success of the company.

One of the best ways to help yourself stick to the commitment of change is to make a list of the benefits that the change will bring in your life. Make one list of the benefits for your life and another for your loved ones. Recognizing the full spectrum of benefits, including how your change will affect those closest to you, will help you stick with the process of change.

When you have moments of weakness, or fail on a particular day or time, then getting back on track becomes easier when you review your list on a regular basis. Posting your “benefits of change” list somewhere where you see it often, such as a bathroom mirror, will help you be reminded of why you are doing what you are doing.

4. Make a Real Commitment to Change

Make a commitment to the time frame needed for the change to happen. If you want to lose 50 lbs., then set out a realistic plan of a few pounds per week and a timeline that reflects those goals.

It will take you a lot longer than a month, but setting realistic goals will help you stick to your commitment. Change happens one day at a time. It is not immediate, but over the course of time because of your dedication and commitment to the process.

It also helps if you make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.[1]

People can change using SMART goals

    An example of this would be a person who wants to become an active runner so they can tackle a half marathon. The first step would be to research what other people have done for training plans to achieve this goal.

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    Runners World lays out specifics for a beginner to train for a half marathon: “Target the Long Run: Every other week, increase your long run by 1.5 miles until you’re run/walking 13 to 14 miles. On alternate weeks, keep your long run to no longer than three miles. Your longest long run should fall two weeks before your half-marathon. Plan to take about 15 weeks to prepare for the big day.”[2]

    These kinds of specificities will help you create a personalized plan that is achievable and time-bound.

    You can learn more about writing SMART goals here.

    5. Create a Plan of Attack

    You need a set of steps outlined to succeed. This is why 12-step programs are so successful. You can’t simply walk into a meeting and be cured and changed. You need to mentally process the change in order for the change to be lasting and effective.

    Create a plan for your change. Be realistic and investigate what other people have done to change.

    For example, if you are dealing with anxiety and want to change that, then seek out therapy methods to address your problem. Stick with the therapy plan until your change process is complete. Simply hoping the anxiety will someday go away is not a plan.

    6. Commit to Action

    It is wonderful to set a goal for change and to write it down, but if you don’t act, then your mental commitment means nothing. There is no actual commitment unless action follows. To best kick start our change, the key is to act now[3].

    For example, if you committed to lose 50lbs, then now is the time to go join a gym, hire a trainer, and walk into a weight loss clinic to get support. We can make up our mind to be determined to change, but if action does not follow soon thereafter, then you will likely fail.

    If you wait until later that week, you will get caught up in doing your daily routine, things for works, taking care of others, or whatever it may be; there will be distractions that will derail you from taking action later. There is no better time to take action than when you make the decision to change.

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    For example, if you decide you want to finally write that book that is in your mind, but you don’t have a working laptop, then go and get a laptop today. Then, set aside an hour each day after work (and on your calendar) so that you can write. Instead of going out with friends after work, you are committing to achieve this goal, and you have time set aside to make that goal happen.

    7. Find a Support System

    When people want to change, finding a support system is key. A great way to find support is through group therapy or support groups. If you have a substance abuse issue, for example, you can find groups that specialize is supporting you through recovery and change.

    If you prefer to find support in the comfort of your own home, then you can look for online support forums and Facebook groups that deal with whatever change you are looking to pursue.

    Your ability to be successful in change is dependent on your ability to dive in; support systems help you with the initial dive and staying committed thereafter. and will help you stay committed to the process. Don’t underestimate the power you have by partnering with others who are seeking the same change.

    8. Get Uncomfortable

    Change should be uncomfortable. You are entering new territory and stepping out of your comfort zone. Your mind and past habits will be resistant to the change, as it is uncomfortable and difficult.

    If you give up because of the discomfort, then you are destined to fail in your pursuit of change. Embrace the discomfort associated with change and recognize that it puts you one step closer to accomplishing your goals.

    9. Stick to the Plan

    When people decide to change, sticking to it is difficult. If you get derailed from your plan, don’t berate yourself. Instead, allow yourself some margin of error and then get back on track.

    You can’t expect to go on a diet without splurging sometimes. The key is “sometimes.” The sooner you get back on track, the more successful you will be in accomplishing your change goals.

    Other researchers on the topic of change believe this process is about dedication and commitment to the change desired in our day to day lives, as Douglas LaBier from the Huffington Post so aptly stated:[4]

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    “Change occurs from awareness of what aspects of our personality we want to develop, and working hard to “practice” them in daily life.”

    Here are some tips on sticking to a plan:

    Engage in Self-Reflection

    Reflect on things that have derailed you in the past and problem solve them before they happen.

    Jot down those things that tend to get you off track. Now, list ways to combat the derailments before they happen. For example, if you are wanting to lose weight but you work late hours, then commit to morning workouts.

    If you know that in the past you would continually hit the snooze button and subsequently miss the workouts, then hire a trainer for early morning workouts. You are less likely to miss your workout if you have real money attached to it and someone counting on you to show up. You could also schedule morning workouts with a friend, so you know there is someone showing up and you don’t want to let them down.

    Brainstorm solutions for your past derailments so that this time around you are ready to stick to the plan and the commitment you have made to change.

    Define Your Commitment

    Commitment is a daily mental and physical plight when it comes to change. If your commitment is to lose weight, then be specific about how you are going to achieve your change. For example, you decide you are going to stick to 1,800 calories a day and a 1-hour workout every day.

    Then, write those goals down and chart your daily progress. Hold yourself accountable.

    Final Thoughts

    Can people change? Hopefully, by now, you believe that they can. If you have a sense of commitment and persistence, change is possible with any life experience.

    Start small, create specific goals, and don’t wait to get started. You’ll be amazed how far change will take you.

    More on How to Make Changes in Your Life

    Featured photo credit: Jurica Koletić via unsplash.com

    Reference

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