Friday, December 14, 2007

10 Signs of Co-Dependency - How Are We Doing?

I have been studying co-dependency for a little while, and here is my list of ten (10).

Please comment back to add to this list.

1. You find yourself dropping things YOU have to do or want to do, only to do for others. This is a biggie. We do things for others at the expense of the things we want or have to.

2. We find ourselves in the role of a helper, too much, too often. We do things for others, when they should be doing it themselves.

Here's an example we can all relate to:
We are over a friend's house, and she is doing something, and we say, "Here let me help you with that." and soon we begin to take over, the other person "leaves" (they let go of the chore) emotionally or literally. All of a sudden, we find ourselves as "hired help" - except without the money. Worse, someone else gets the compliments for all the work we've done! Ever notice this one?

Or how about this one:
Have you ever been to an event, where the other person is supposed to be doing something and you jump into help? And the person literally "leaves" to do something they want to do - personally - for themselves and you are left "holding the bag?" You see them talking and laughing with others, and you? Where are you? Working your tail off.

3. We find ourselves busy, too busy, doing, doing, doing. We need to examine our "doing" list. What is a "doing" list? It's an inventory of what we have done today. Are there more things on the list we are doing that others should be doing for themselves?

4. We feel guilty - a lot of guilt or a twinge of guilt - if we take time out for ourselves at the expense of supporting others. Or even some guilt for taking time out for our well-being.

A lot of women feel this. It's one of the reasons they don't join support groups, (like Al-Anon) because they can't leave the kids with Grandma or Dad to go do something - because - we feel guilty or we think, we can't ask for help (men have the "Can't ask for help" problem).

5. We been to feel unsatisfied if we are not - busy, busy, busy. We find ourselves cooking, cleaning, picking kids up, volunteering, - to the point of chaos. We hold it "together" - but barely. But if things slow done, we feel guilty (there's that word again) or worse "used less" or . . . "useless."

6. We begin to feel resentful about doing for others, and them not doing the same.

We feel "unappreciated." This is a biggie for me! And it leads to resentment. Look at my resentment!

We feel, bad that we are not "accepted" or "complimented" or someone doesn't say "thank you" or you are "wonderful." We begin to measure ourselves by how people measure us. And this is how we begin to get "hooked" to wanting to be accepted by others through their compliments.

When we expect others and need others to say these things, we are getting some of our self-esteem from them.
What I mean here is; We only feel good about ourselves, when we are thought well of by others. Our value starts coming from others. And we set ourselves up for failure by doing this, because we will never always be perfect in someone else's eye.

Don't get me wrong, we all need to feel good about ourselves. It just needs to be inner directed, not outer dependent. That's why it's called "self-esteem" and not "other-esteem."

7. We feel a sense of worthlessness and anxiety. We feel a little more unsure of ourselves.

We feel anxious if the other person does not need us.

We feel anxious if the other person is doing something, and they are not doing it "right" (which is another way of saying; they are not doing it your way).

Here is a SHIFT in Thinking: The greatest gift we can give to others, especially our children and our qualifier, may be ...... -----> (here it comes ) ...... ----> letting them do it for themselves.

By allowing them to do it for themselves, they learn and start to feel their own self-esteem increase, where they begin to see they are not inept. May be, just may be, we are creating a cycle here. Let people fall every once in a while. (I'm not talking about going out naked in the front yard or jumping off the Grand Canyon.)

Yes, perhaps through our desire to help others, we begin to control, and we may make the other person feel inept. We do this by accident of course. But what if this is true?

What if, in our desire to help, we actually hinder their growth?

8. Do people expect you to do things? To the point, that when you don't, they are "Shocked"?

9. Do we wait to see the other person's mood, and our mood is dependent on their mood? Is our mood going to be adjusted based upon our qualifier's mood? If we are in a good mood, does our mood change when the addict's mood is bad? YIKERS!!!! This is BAD!! It doesn't even have to be our qualifier's mood. We have a friend, he's bummed. We adjust our feelings, so we don't make him feel worse. But, do we feel guilty for finally being happy?

10. Do we find ourselves, hunting for alcohol, looking to see where they hid it? Do we find ourselves, addicted to the other person's addiction?

  • In otherwords, do we find our thoughts filled with the words; "What are they doing right now?" when they are gone.
  • Do we find the words going through our brain; "Are they out there drinking?" (or doing whatever the addiction is)

Read the above list over again. We may have a co-dependent personality because we worked ourselves into the behavior and over time it has become our "normal." Or we may have seen this cycle of co-dependency in the house and family environment we grew up in.

PS - Helping is not bad. This is not what I am saying. Going to the other extreme of not helping and worrying only about one's self is selfish. But there is a heathly balance. This is why Al-Anon is available and it is for us.


Al-Anon Lifer said...

Great list and explanations. Today I did something for myself. In the past, I have done the same exact thing, but it was for the other person. What a difference the outcome. I felt better, the other person felt good, and it all had to do with the correct motivation and attitude - taking care of oneself first. If we don't do this, we can't help others when they ask and really need our help.

Joe said...

It's so easy to fall into a pattern and we do, do, do. It has become my problem. Then, when I feel people "should" return the favor, they don't. I project my "shoulds" on them. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

What happened to your wife?

Joe said...

To: Al-Anon Lifer. Thanks for the compliment. And I agree taking care of yourself first, is the most important thing to do. I hear in Al-Anon the example of putting the oxygen mask on ourselves first before we should anyone else -so we can help others.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?