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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

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 August 16, 2018

Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

He asks you for your opinion, but only follows his own advice regardless of what you say.She loves to talk about herself, everything about her is just better than you.  When you try to share anything happy about yourself, she seriously doubts it.

If you know someone who acts like these examples, there’s a chance they might be a narcissist.

What is a narcissistic personality?

Narcissism is a spectrum personality disorder which most of us have.

In popular culture, narcissism is interpreted as a person who’s in love with themselves, more accurately, their idealized selves. Narcissists believe that they are too unique to be understood and that they are so good that they demand for admiration from others.

Psychologist Stephen Johnson writes that,[1]

the narcissist is someone who has buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) describes narcissistic personality as a personality disorder. It is a spectrum disorder, which means it exists on a continuum ranging from some narcissistic traits to the full-blown personality disorder.[2]

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not very common, but the truth is, we all have some of the narcissistic traits.

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Traits of a narcissist:

  • They have a deep need for admiration and validation. They think they’re special and too unique to be understood.
  • They feel they are superior to other. They achieve more and know a lot more than you.
  • They do not show their vulnerabilities. They fear what others think of them and they want to remain superior in all situations.
  • They are unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. They want to be the centre of attention and believe that showing emotions is a sign of weakness.
  • They are skilled manipulators and are emotionally abusive. They know how to make use of their charm to take advantage of others to get what they want.

How are narcissists different from others?

Narcissism expert and the author of Narcissism in a Nutshell, Zari Ballard, tried to answer some common questions asked by non-narcissists about what a narcissist thinks and feels from a narcissist’s perspective.[3]

Do narcissists know they are narcissists and are they happy?

We could really care less about how others feel. We enjoy our so called cold existence. True narcissists don’t want to change. We feel in total control of our lives using this method.

Do narcissists know or understand right from wrong?

Narcissists know the difference between right and wrong because they understand cause and effect. There is no “guilty conscience” giving them a clue and they are displaying the symptom of being “indifferent to social norms” while most likely presenting as ‘cold-hearted.’

Narcissists have a very different thinking mechanism. They see things from a different perspective. Unlike non-narcissists and empaths, they don’t have much sympathy and are reluctant to show emotions to others.

Why do people become narcissists?

1. Narcissism is vulnerability taken to an extreme.

The root of a narcissistic personality is a strong resistance to feeling vulnerable with anyone.[4]

Narcissists refuse to put themselves in a position where they feel vulnerable. They fear that others will take advantage of their weaknesses, so they learn to camouflage their weaknesses by acting strong and powerful. The think showing emotions to others is a sign of weakness, so they learn to hide their emotions and act cold-hearted most of the times.

Narcissists live in a state of anxiety because they are highly aware of their emotions and how others think of them.

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Vulnerability aversion, is the root of a narcissistic personality.

2. A narcissistic personality could be a result of a wounded past.

Narcissists are desperate to seek validation constantly because they either didn’t feel worthwhile and valued in the past, or were being paid too much attention as the most precious and unique one in the world.

Faulty or inadequate parenting, for example a lack of limit setting, is believed to be a major cause, and both permissive and authoritarian styles of parenting have been found to promote narcissistic symptoms.[5]

Both parents who fail to see the worth in a child, and parents who spoil and give excessive praise to the child promote narcissism as the child grows. While the former ones make the child feel inferior of others and want to get more attention, the latter ones encourage an idealized-self in the child.

How to deal with a narcissist?

1. If someone close to you is a narcissist, embrace the differences.

There’re different personality types and not everyone will think and act the same as you do. Instead of trying to change others, learn to accept the differences and strike a balance when you really have to communicate with them.

2. Don’t try to change them, focus on your own needs.

Try to understand that narcissists are resistant to change, it’s more important for you to see who they really are, instead of who you want them to be. Focus on how you feel, and what you want yourself to be.

Embrace the fact that there’re different types of personality and the only thing you can control is your attitude and your own actions.

3. Recognize what they do only comes from their insecurity.

Narcissists are quite vulnerable deep inside, they question others because that’s how they can make themselves feel better.

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When you learn that what a narcissist does to you is nothing personal, but something that comes from their insecurity, you know that sometimes they just need a certain amount of reassurance.

This is especially important if the narcissist is someone you have to closely work with, or if they’re your family member. The right amount of reassurance can calm them down and get the tasks on hand completed.

4. Ask them what would others think instead of what’d others feel.[6]

Narcissists don’t feel guilty, but they care about how others think of them deep in their heart.

Clinical psychologist Al Bernstein explains:

There are just things, like other people’s feelings, that narcissists rarely consider. If you have their ear, don’t tell them how people might react; instead, ask probing questions. Narcissists are much more likely to act on ideas that they think they thought up themselves.

If you have to work with a narcissist closely, focus on the facts and ideas, not the emotions.

5. Let go of the need of getting a narcissist’s approval.

You’re not who a narcissist says you are. Don’t let their blame game undermine your self-esteem, and don’t argue with them just to defend what you believe is right.

There is no point arguing with a narcissist just to prove them wrong because they will not give in proving themselves right. It’s more likely that you’ll get more upset when they disagree with you in an unpleasant way.

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Know your own worth and detach from a narcissist’s opinion on you.

6. If a narcissist is hurting you, stay away from them.

Remember, a healthy relationship is two-sided. It’s about mutual respect and it’s based on give and take. But any kind of relationship with a narcissist is likely to be the contrary, it’s about making the narcissist happy and constantly supporting them. A relationship like this will only weigh you down and is unhealthy for your growth.

7. Set a boundary and always keep it.

If you’re setting a boundary, you have to be willing to keep it. When a narcissist sees that you’re trying to take back control of your life, they will try to test your limits, it’s just their instinct to do it.

Be prepared that your boundary will be challenged. Make your boundary clear, have all the actions needed to be taken in your mind.

For example, if you have decided to stop communicating with them, they will likely to show up in front of you just to talk to you. Be brave enough to keep your boundary, don’t back down and get close to them again; or else they will not take your boundary seriously any more.

8. Learn when to walk away.

When a narcissist starts to make you feel uncomfortable and doubt about yourself, it’s time to pick yourself up and give yourself enough respect to just walk away from them.

If you’re in love with a narcissist, you should seriously think about ending the relationship and move on for a better life. If the narcissist is your family member, you don’t have to be cruel to them, but it’s better to keep distance from them.

Reference

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