Isn’t everyone codependent?

There are some natural and healthy behaviours mothers do with children that look like codependency. Additionally, nurses often do many things that may look like codependent behavior to the unititiated.

Are people mutually interdependent on each other?

Yes. There is perhaps a continuum of codependency, that most people might fall on. Maybe this continuum exists because so many people are taught not to be assertive, or to ask directly for their needs to be met? We probably can’t say though that everyone is codependent. Many people probably don’t feel fulfilled because of other things going on in the system at large.

Anne Wilson Schaef believes the whole society is addicted; the object of addiction isn’t the important issue, but rather that the environment sets us up to be addicted to something,i.e. food, sex, drugs, power, etc.

If that is true, then all of us are either addicts or codependents. From this perspective, society produces a pattern making it hard not to be codependent. But it still doesn’t change that we’re not getting what we need and we’re not feeling fulfilled. Then the question is, how do I become more fulfilled and feel better about myself and the life I’m living?

Why do we become codependent? What causes it?

It’s widely believed we become codependent through living in systems (families) with rules that hinder development to some degree. The system (usually parents and relatives) has been developed in response to some problem such as alcoholism, mental illness or some other secret or problem.

General rules set-up within families that may cause codependency may include:

  • It’s not okay to talk about problems
  • Feelings should not be expressed openly; keep feelings to yourself
  • Communication is best if indirect; one person acts as messenger between two others; known in therapy as triangulation
  • Be strong, good, right, perfect
  • Make us proud beyond realistic expectations
  • Don’t be selfish
  • Do as I say not as I do
  • It’s not okay to play or be playful
  • Don’t rock the boat.

Many families have one or more of these rules in place within the family. These kinds of rules can constrict and strain the free and healthy development of people’s self-esteem, and coping. As a result, children can develop non-helpful behaviour characteristics, problems solving techniques, and reactions to situations in adult life

Melody Beattie writes that codependency is unique in that recovery can be fun and liberating. What does she mean?

Oftentimes, a part of being codependent is a resistance to being able to HAVE FUN AND PLAY! ;) So part of recovery from codependency is learning how to let go and have fun. Therefore it’s bound to be liberating, and fun as we learn how to let go and play.


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