Last week we talked about codependency, and how to tell where on the continuum of codependency you might lie. If you missed it, you can read that post here. Today I want to talk about what aspect of codependency you most identify with. If you want to change something, you need to know what you’re targeting. Codependency is ultimately a negative force in our relationships, and honestly we would all feel better and operate in life better if we lowered our degree of it.
First a little background. In last week’s post I recommended the book Facing Codepedence by Pia Mellody. Pia Mellody one of the driving forces behind the treatment model of a trauma and addictions treatment facility in Arizona called The Meadows. Therapists have the opportunity to be trained in the “meadows model” of therapy. My mentor in the field is meadows trained, and she has trained me. So although I have not officially gone through the meadows model training, it is the model I use in therapy as an underlying foundation to all other models that I use. I find that it supplements any other model of therapy that I might find helpful to use with a particular client. So as we talk about codependency, the information I share will come from this model.
According to Pia Mellody codependency affects five different areas in our lives. I will often spend 3-6 weeks of counseling going through these areas depending on how much someone is impacted by them. So today will be an overview, and then I will dive into them in subsequent posts. Once you determine which area or areas that effect your life, then you can start to make changes in those areas.
Codependency effects these following areas:
1. Self-Esteem/Self-Worth: If you find how you feel about yourself fluctuating up and down based on how others feel about you, interact with you, or behave with you, then this is probably an issue that you struggle with. If you are a human being, then this is probably an issue that you struggle with at least a little bit 🙂 Oh and by the way, you can have self-esteem that is too high! I know! Those of you who struggle with low self-esteem can’t even imagine this, but it is possible to go through life believing that you are better than everyone else around you. It is just as unhealthy as low self-esteem. In fact, it makes you a jerk.
2. Boundaries: Boundaries are something we will talk about a lot over the course of this blog, but in general, if you struggle with saying “no” to things, if you feel that your schedule is always running you instead of you running it, if comments people make to you can cut you to the core even if you don’t agree with them or believe them, then you probably have an issue with boundaries. The category of boundaries is such a multi-faceted concept, and it encompasses so much more than we often think it does. I’m excited to dive into this more in a few weeks!
3. Need to be perfect/Rebellion: These are two sides of the same coin. All people are imperfect. It’s part of what makes us human. If you struggle with feeling like you need to be perfect, or you’ve been told your whole life that you are bad (or have decided that you’re going to rebel because the perfection expectation is too much for you), then you may have an issue in this area. The need to be perfect is exhausting! It is exhausting to those who feel it, and it is exhausting to the people in relationship with them. Part of healing from codependency in this area will involve embracing your imperfection.
4. Dependence – We have been created to be in relationship with others, and when that is done in a healthy way it looks like inter-dependence. Inter-dependence is the ability to know what you need or want, and the ability to ask an appropriate person to meet that need or want in a healthy way. When this area becomes codependent, it is because we are either too dependent in our relationships, anti-dependent, or needless and wantless. I describe needless and wantless as someone who has a vague sense that they are dissatisfied or unhappy, but when they are asked what’s wrong or what they need, they don’t know. I’ll define that more in a few weeks.
5. Control Issues – If you feel like you need to be in control of all things in your life at all times, including people, and it makes you anxious when things get out of your control, then you probably have an issue in this area. The flip side of this coin is someone who lives a life totally out of control. Their life is constant drama, constant crisis, and super exhausting to be around. Both of these express different ends of a continuum under the broader issue of codependency.
So there you have it. Five areas. Five ways that codependency can impact our lives, and hurt our relationships. We will go through each and every one of them over the next few weeks. Look at that! It’s like having counseling with me for free!! (Except that you have to be able to see the dysfunction in yourself without, which can be tricky to do. We’re all a little more blind to our own unhealthiness. Some of us more than others.)
The truth is that you will attract people as friends, and as significant others who are as emotionally healthy as you. If that’s not motivation to becoming a healthier person, I don’t know what is!