The term “codependency” can mean different things to different people. Over the years, a number of authors have offered a variety of definitions for this difficult dynamic that seems to affect more people than we can imagine.The definition is a very simple one: “codependency” occurs when we put other people’s needs ahead of our own on a fairly consistent basis. In truth, when we are codependent, we are also people-pleasers who will go to virtually any lengths to avoid unpleasant conflict with others.
DOES THIS SOUND LIKE YOU?
- You are tired of giving and giving to other people, without getting much in return.
- You are concerned about the pain and/or abuse that you are experiencing in your relationships.
- You feel sorry for yourself, baffled about why this is happening to you but not knowing what to do about it.
- You try to convince yourself that the problems you are experiencing aren’t really that bad.
“BUT I’M SUCH A NICE PERSON!”
Because codependents consistently put others’ needs ahead of their own, they often believe that they are “nice” people.“I’m doing what everybody wants me to do,” you tell yourself, “so why do I get mistreated so much of the time?” Indeed, this will be a real dilemma for you as a people-pleaser. If you are codependent, it probably doesn’t make sense to you that you are being treated abusively by the very people you are trying so hard to accommodate!
But the truth may be that you are not really as “nice” as you would like to believe you are, because you are not saying yes to everyone else just to be kind to them. Nor do you do more than your fair share of tasks because you truly want to be of service over and over without any kind of reciprocal arrangement.When you say yes (especially when you really want to say NO), you are actually protecting yourself from having to face the potentially painful consequences that can result when someone is angry or disappointed with you for not agreeing to do what they want you to do.
Even though you are really trying to look out for yourself by side-stepping these negative outcomes, which could be seen as a self-caring intention, it is unfortunately not a healthy form of self-care when it is done out of resistance to unpleasantness.