Co-dependency (according to Wikipedia) is defined as a psychological condition
or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is
affected with a pathological condition (typically narcissism or drug addiction);
and in broader terms, it refers to the dependence on the needs of, or control of, another.
It also often involves placing a lower priority on one's own needs, while being excessively
preoccupied with the needs of others. Co-dependency can occur in any type of relationship,
including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships.
Co-dependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive
compliance, or control patterns. Narcissists are considered to be natural magnets for
So when I discuss co-dependency, I am referring to the broader
definition of dependence on the needs of, or control of, another. What I've noticed is
that people are very protective of their need to be co-dependent. Many who are
co-dependent feel that it is a healthy thing and that if one isn't co-dependent that
she is cold and uncaring.
At least I've been accused of being cold and detached,
not showing enough emotion. I can certainly understand this perspective even
though it's not how I feel in my heart.
There is a saying in the Bible where Jesus says something to the effect of, "I am who
you say I am."
What does this mean? As an example, it means that you are going to
perceive me a certain way, and so that is who I am to you. I could be the most kind,
loving, thoughtful philanthropist on the planet, but if, based on your belief systems and
life experiences, I say or do something that doesn't make sense to you, you could
perceive me as a threat and not like me.
Is this fair? Well, it may feel unfair if you
determine your self-worth based on others' perception of you. Let's face it.
People are going to judge us every day, but if we draw our own strength and self-esteem
from within, our feelings of self-worth won't fluctuate so drastically.
So the solution is to
declare who I am and let others have their own opinion of me because they're going to
anyway. If a relationship is important to me, then it's up to me how hard I want to work to
help the other person really know me. If someone doesn't understand my language and
way of communicating, then I might as well not be saying anything. My words fall on deaf ears.
Step 1 is that we must be honest with ourselves and get to know ourselves.
Step 2 is to honestly communicate our Truth to others, and it's no different if we are at home or at work.
We should be able to express who we are and be "personal," regardless of where we are.
This means I am a person at home, and I am a person in the business world. I take my
personality with me wherever I go.
This makes it easier since I don't have to wear masks
and facades to please others. I can just be me. But if I don't know who ME is, then it
becomes more complex. I will then allow people to reflect back to me all sorts of confusing
messages, and I won't know which is the Truth.
To summarize, we are all co-dependent in
some ways because we live in a world of people who are continually reflecting back to us
things about ourselves.
The more we can love and accept and forgive ourselves, the less we need to be co-dependent.
The more we can speak our Truth and know it's OK for others to perceive us unfairly, the
better off we'll be.
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