Codependency is when we become emotionally addicted to another person and expect them to fix our life or expect ourselves to fix theirs.
Usually, this ends up being a needy “victim” and a “savior,” both of whom feel bound together by feelings of dependency, guilt, and need.
Many of us play the role of both victim and savior in various relationships throughout life, but often codependent people lean more toward being one or the other.
Codependent people start to base their self-worth and well-being on someone else: they give away their personal power and set themselves up for disappointment, heartbreak, and enormous frustration when other people don’t meet their expectations.
It’s a real drag, let me tell you.
Who is Most Likely to Become Codependent?
Anyone of any gender, age, or culture can be codependent. It’s an emotional pattern of seeking validation and personal security and fulfillment through another person and it’s very, very common.
Just because it is common, however, does not mean codependency is no big deal.
It actually can lead to years of wasted time, crushing heartbreak, and enormous energy spent on chasing your own tail in a circle.
In terms of personality-wise, codependency often affects those with low self-esteem and unresolved trauma.
I know for myself that painful childhood and adolescent experiences coupled with fairly intense struggles with loneliness, anxiety, and depression caused me to engage in codependent behavior for years.
I sought out external things that could make me feel better, playing the role of victim.
I thought if someone could see how I really just need them or want a “chance” like everyone else then everything would turn around.
I’d bask in the glow of validation and intimacy and find all my emotional issues, anger, and disappointment behind me like it is in the love songs.
But reality is a lot different.
When you go out looking for someone else to complete you, you just end up feeling even more incomplete inside.
Codependency is a behavior that occurs in those who are in search of a positive feeling or experience outside themselves to fill the hole they think is inside themselves.
Doesn’t that sound like it could be almost anyone of us at some point in life? And, like I said, it has definitely been me at many points.
The good news is that overcoming codependency is completely possible.
I know that for me participating in the shaman Rudá Iandê’s free online masterclass on finding true love and intimacy was a huge eye-opener in terms of understanding the codependent behavior I’d been engaging in for years and working to overcome it.
The main problem with codependency is it doesn’t work. It sets you up for disappointment, leeches away your energy, and puts you on a nauseating merry-go-round of neediness.
You start to forget your purpose and seek it outside yourself, losing friendships and your own connection with yourself in the race to “get” that one great relationship that will make everything work out.
But it never seems to come.
Rudá’s masterclass includes powerful exercises for seeing relationships and love in a new way and reframing our search for love and fulfillment.
The way I’d always thought about things I do my best and then one day I meet someone special and things are great.
The truth is that without doing the work on ourselves first even a wonderful partner can end up just feeding into our codependent patterns and emotional issues.
Our culture and many of our earliest emotional struggles often involve a fear of abandonment and a craving for closeness. It can even result in Self Love Deficit Disorder (yes – that’s a real thing).
We want to be seen, recognized, and valued.
At least I know I do.
But in order to not let these needs become part of a codependent circus show in which we are the lifelong clown we need to take ownership of meeting those needs for ourselves before we can think that anyone else will be able to relate to us in a long-term mutually upbuilding way.
It’s sort of like until you learn to row your side of the canoe you can’t reasonably expect to coordinate with another person as well.
Especially when the boat is taking on water and there’s a waterfall up ahead.
It’s definitely possible to steer a canoe solo, although it tends to fishtail around a lot, there are some great one-man and one-woman canoers out there. But for a two (or more) person canoeing experience that lives up to your dreams, you need to work in synchronicity, paddling on your side and having rhythm and balance.
There’s some give and take, and even if one partner takes a break for awhile there is no expectation of just letting things slide and the other person will figure it all out or fix it.
If there’s an injury or dehydration it’s time to stop and sort that out before continuing the journey; and, if an arduous portage is up ahead from your current location of Rocky Relationship River to a new place called Pure Love Lake (not an actual place, as far as I know) then at least you know it will be worth it.
Sorry, just had to include that Canadian canoeing metaphor (and say sorry. Sorry about saying sorry, hope it didn’t make you feel uncomfortable).
So, the point is: by learning to stop looking for the answer and fulfillment outside ourselves we can re-center our power and begin to find fulfillment in life that doesn’t depend on someone else or external validation.
Finding Fulfillment in Life
The truth is that seeking fulfillment in life through another person or any external thing will always end in disappointment.
The problem isn’t with wanting love, friendship, or attachment.
The problem is in hoping that it will complete or fulfill you on an intrinsic level. The problem is in the mindset of hoping to find “the answer” or “the person” who will suddenly make things work smoothly and without a struggle.
The irony is that dedicating ourselves to finding that outer cure-all solution actually leads to even more struggle and pain.
Whereas dedicating ourselves to our purpose, helping others, and letting go of attachment to the outcome of actions, will pave the way to a life of real fulfillment and meaning.
There’s only so many times you can tell yourself “if or when” X happens then I can finally be happy. Or then I can finally relax.
There’s only so many times you can swoop in to save your partner and try to fix their life for them or plead with them to fix and comfort you before it becomes a losing game.
The exciting news is that once you leave codependent patterns and relationships behind you can start to set out on a world of mutual empowerment and real respect and value for yourself and others.
Finding fulfillment in life from enriching friendships with people who really get us for who we are to discovering true love and intimacy without the pressure and toxicity of codependency is all about improving our relationship with ourselves.
It’s about empowering ourselves to be the kind of person to ourselves and others that we wish others would be to us.
It’s about aligning our purpose with a desire to help others with absolutely no expectation of having something returned to us and letting this practice guide us away from dependency and into empowerment.
Finding the flow state through “intuitive expertise” is a key step to truly embracing our gifts and practicing them in our life.
Validating ourselves and our passions come before any outer validations and achievements.
I’ve also found the Out of the Box workshop with Rudá Iandê to be extremely helpful in helping me see the ways that I’ve been sabotaging myself and to show me how I can come into line with my purpose and power without having to run from negative emotions or anger.
Out of the Box really shows how you don’t need to be anything other than yourself and how you have the tools to embrace your full potential already in your grasp.
It’s like an antidote to codependency and a supercharged key to finding and activating your purpose.
So many times in running from what’s uncomfortable we create repression and blocked mental, emotional, and physical energy that could actually be rechanneled into positive and proactive endeavors.
We want fulfillment outside ourselves. We want someone to soothe the pain or we want to make the pain go away on behalf of someone else we care about without them having to take their own personal journey.
The result is codependency, and it never works because at the end of the day it always comes back to you: your purpose and your ownership of your own self, and your power is what drives you and attracts others to you.
It’s what allows you to flourish in life and love and to enjoy relationships based on mutual connection and romance rather than codependency and needy attachment.
There’s always a way forward, and it starts with you.
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