The Real Test for Codependence: Needing to Protect the Status Quo
It took me a long time to stop being scared of learning about codependence. I craved depending on someone emotionally so badly, that I feared anyone telling me it was wrong for me to want that.”
Codependence is not about being over reliant on someone. It is about unconsciously making someone dependent on you to create an emotional debt.
Codependent people appear very capable and self reliant until they become upset or someone else becomes upset with them. It is in these situations that their emotional neediness shows up. Because of this inability to regulate negative emotions, codependent people are unable to make difficult decisions (that may be required to protect themselves) if those decisions might upset the status quo. This makes otherwise very capable people, vulnerable and unable to stand up for themselves effectively when the situation requires it.
The Test for Codependence
- Can you discuss important decisions about your own personal needs without worrying how this will make your family feel? For instance; could you discuss your need to further your education or to look for a job that you feel better suited to; even if discussing those needs might temporarily upset your family?
- Can you enforce a rule, even when it will make someone else in your family angry? For instance can you stick to the number of days you say your child must stay at home and study (after they have broken curfew) even if it makes them angry and say they hate you?
- Can you stick to your own goals and plans even when someone is using emotional manipulation trying to influence you, such as sulking or trying to make you feel guilty for not paying attention to them?
- Are you able to calm yourself down and get back to attending to your life after an upset, without needing someone else to soothe you and tell you things will be okay?
- Are you able to talk to your parents about personal problems they may need to deal with such as addictions, irresponsibility or immaturity, without feeling emotionally off balance?
How do you feel when considering these questions? If you cannot honestly say yes to all 5, you may need to learn skills to better regulate your emotions.
I waited too long to learn that I needed to stop working on trying to please people and needed to learn to stand up for myself and focus on my own goals instead. Once I finally did tackle this, I was amazed to discover that ending my people pleasing behavior actually made me much more attractive.”