Lesson 1.5 More Characteristics
- Or you take excessive responsibility for other people’s lives
Not all codependent individuals are running away from responsibility. In fact, some of them tend to take excessive responsibility for their life and for the lives of others as well. Usually, the tendency to be overly responsible stems from guilt or shame. More specifically, we think that, for some reason, we ought to be competent and strong enough to take care of others and solve their problems, while taking care of our own business too.
Sadly, feeling too responsible for your partner’s happiness and wellbeing can indicate the presence of codependent tendencies. In other words, you can’t let go (or you don’t want to) of a complicated relationship because you think that your partner won’t be able to cope and that makes you feel guilty or ashamed. To avoid these unpleasant feelings, you choose to remain in that relationship, even though taking care of yourself and your partner completely drain your energy.
In such cases, you need to remember that the most important person in your life should be you. Only after you’re strong enough to assume responsibility for yourself, you can start lending others a helping hand. In addition, let’s not forget that a relationship is a pact between two independent people who choose to spend quality time together. Notice the word ‘independent’. It means that the two of you should find a way to split responsibility, no pass it from one to the other.
- You may struggle with obsessive tendencies
First of all, just because you have a few obsessive thoughts now and then doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re struggling with OCD. However, obsessions can sometimes point towards codependency, especially when the content of your obsessive thoughts is related to your partner or your relationship.
Thoughts like “I have to check him/her constantly”, “I have to know where he/she is all the time”, “It’s been an hour since we last talked. I have to call him/her”, “I have to marry him/her, no matter what”, etc. are actually obsessions that result from your insecurities.
These irrational have’s can quickly transform you into a suffocating and overly-attached person, who seeks to control every little aspect of your relationship. But the same obsessive thoughts that nurture your codependent tendencies can drive a wedge between you and your partner, making him/her less willing to continue this suffocating interaction between you two.
Once you deal with your insecurities and come to terms with whatever bad experiences that may have left you emotionally scarred, your obsessions will slowly fade away, leaving room for confidence, trust, and respect.
- You deny and repress your true self
Once again, we’re forced to bring up the topic of shame and guilt. It appears most of us are too ashamed to discuss our codependent issues openly. Besides, knowing that codependency affects our relationship can often make us feel guilty.
According to many experts, shame and guilt are two of the most ‘perverted’ feelings that our mind often troubles us with. The reason why these emotions are completely useless and irrational is that they keep us in a constant state of idleness. In other words, we pity ourselves, and we don’t do anything to get out of our miserable situation. That is how shame and guilt restrict our freedom, trapping us into all sorts of unpleasant situations like codependency or other types of dysfunctional relationships.
But we don’t want to accept this truth. It’s too painful to talk about it, so instead, we choose to bury it deep down inside. Unless we find the strength to bring our codependent tendencies out into the open, we are doomed to fall into one toxic relationship after another.
11 You can’t tolerate uncertainty
As we all know, life is made up of ups and downs and of course, this can influence our relationship in a positive or negative way. However, it’s not the ups and downs of our relationships that cause us to feel uncertain, but the fact that we can’t predict the future course of our marriage, friendship, affair, etc.
Although most of us have simply accepted uncertainty as a normal part of life, codependent individuals seem to struggle with this issue a lot. They are desperate to know the exact course of their life in advance. Since they can’t achieve this impossible goals (because no one can), they become overly attached to the first person who gives them a sense of control and predictability. Of course, the feeling of power that they gain after entering in a codependent relationship is just an illusion because, as we mentioned earlier, no one can eradicate uncertainty 100%.
If you find yourself feeling confused and discouraged by the fact that your life seems chaotic and uncontrollable, the worst thing you can do is trick yourself into believing that someone else can provide you with that beautiful sense of control that you desperately crave.
Accept the uncontrollable, and your life will slowly become easier and more ‘malleable’ to change.
- You sometimes feel like an outsider
Codependency can often make us feel like we’re some kind of ‘weirdos’ or outsiders. Consider this next scenario. Everyone around you seems to move on with their lives and engage in all sorts of exciting projects, and here you are, stuck in a relationship that feels increasingly more like a prison. For you, life seems to have stopped long ago, and the only thing that’s keeping you afloat is this relationship that you don’t even find satisfying or fulfilling anymore.
Such grim perspectives can make anyone feel discouraged, sad, or even depressed. It’s like your existence is no longer yours anymore, and you can’t seem to find a way to regain your thirst for life.
On top of that, people around you are visibly worried about you. Some of them might pity you; others might offer a helping hand or a few kind words. Since shame determines you to deny your codependent tendencies, any intervention from a friend or family member will be immediately blocked by a barrage of rationalizations and ‘carefully-packed’ explanations. The bottom line is that people will slowly begin to distance themselves from you. Soon enough, the only person left will be the one with whom you share the same codependent relationship.
- You feel like a victim/prisoner
Since codependency keeps you trapped in a toxic relationship, it’s somehow normal to feel like a detainee. But this is a special kind of prison, one in which you are the warden, the guard and the prisoner all at the same time. For many of us, getting rid of our codependent tendencies seems like a scattered dream, but there are plenty of ways to escape, and that’s what this guide is all about.
What most of us probably don’t know is that there is a huge difference between being a victim/prisoner and acting like a victim/prisoner. Codependency makes you adopt a victim-like behavior, and since you’ve probably played this role for quite some time, you became accustomed to it. In other words, you’re not really a victim or a prisoner, (because you have the power to overcome this issue), you’re just acting like one.
Second, since you’ve built this prison with your own hands (or should we say you own attitude), it means you know its every weakness. Moreover, you are the one who holds the keys to every door. In short, you can escape anytime you want.
Escape this prison that you call a relationship. Stop playing the role of a victim. Be the real you!
- You find it difficult to make a decision (even a trivial one)
When codependency is built into the foundation of our relationship, even the simplest decision, like what to eat for dinner, becomes an overwhelming challenge. Since we don’t trust ourselves with anything and we almost always rely on our significant other to do the job for us, at some point, we simply give ourselves entirely to that person. But that’s not the only explanation behind our unwillingness to make even the smallest decisions.
There are situations when we avoid making decisions because we don’t want to upset our partner in some way. We are so terrified by the idea of being single and facing life’s challenges by ourselves that we give up on making our own decisions, hoping that he or she will feel ‘important’. In short, we put our partner on a pedestal, and we let him/her be the boss.
- Your relationship feels like a roller coaster
The life of a codependent individual unfolds between extremes. His relationships are marked by ups and downs, moments of intense passion followed by complete ignorance on both sides. One day you’re on a wonderful vacation together and the next day you’re sleeping in separate rooms. The main problem is that in time, these constant shifts between love and war will deteriorate your relationship.
But why is this happening to us? Why do we keep jumping from one emotional state to another? The answer is relatively simple. It’s an internal struggle between two conflicting desires. On one hand, you want to express your originality and free spirit and on the other you don’t want to let go of that wonderful sense of security that your codependent partner might provide.
Unless you find a way to reconcile these two opposite desires, all your relationships will go through the same reckless circle of sublime bliss and profound agony.
As always, write down all the characteristics that describe your behavior and attitude towards your current partner. If you’re single, think of a past relationship and try to identify what were the telltale signs of your codependent tendencies back then. This will be the portrait of your codependency and as you move forward, you can keep this portrait in mind when it comes to healing and growth.