Many of us grew up in a family where we are taught to care for others, often times at our own expense. You might have grown up in a household where you taught that your role in the family is to be the relief, in whichever way that looked. You might have learned that I’m not okay unless the people around me are okay, and I’ll bet there were lots of times they weren’t okay. If you’re wondering why you feel drained and empty in your relationships, this might resonate with you.
Losing yourself in others
It’s true, usually we don’t feel okay unless those around us are okay. Makes sense, we want what’s best for the ones we care about. But finding the balance is a hard thing, especially when you grew up in a home where saying “no” wasn’t really an option for you. You learned to ignore your needs, your wants, yourself. And it’s catching up with you.
People who have codependent tendencies may have been praised and reinforced for how accommodating they are and this can be rewarding. You’re probably successful in your career and love what you do. On the flip side of the coin, you feel burned-out and have little left to give after work – most importantly to yourself. Over the years, you probably forgot who you are and what you even need. You might have forgotten what excites and energizes you. You’ve lost the balance between tending to the needs of others and tending to your own needs. Here’s what that can look like.
10 signs of codependency:
- Putting people’s comfort before yours, even when you don’t have it to give.
- Difficulty with saying no, so you over-commit.
- Apologizing often when it wasn’t your fault.
- Not trusting yourself so you seek the approval of others.
- Difficulty with expressing opinions, wants, needs.
- Ignoring it when someone hurts your feelings, wondering if you’re being too sensitive.
- Feeling lonely when you’re around people.
- Staying in toxic relationships
- Taking on people’s problems as if they are your own.
Codependency is expensive
I get it. Your family needed you. A lot. You might not know who you are outside of the role as “the help.” Now, it feels like if you were to actually spend your weekend on things you’ve been putting off forever like cleaning out your closet, it would be selfish of you. You might sometimes feel torn between helping your mom with yet another another favor and having down time to yourself. In fact, your needs have been put off for so long that you might not even know what they are. It might feel like your identity has been wrapped what the people around you need for so long that you don’t know who you are at your core. You might notice a familiar pattern in other relationships where you fall back into the familiar role of the relief. You sure others are okay, but that same level of care usually isn’t returned. They know which buttons to push and what to say to persuade you to place the focus on them. To them, your down time means you’re available. They’ve become dependent on you and it costs you a lot.
Lean in to yourself
Codependency is overwhelming and eventually it catches up. What if you got curious. What if you learned that it’s okay to say no. We can take a deeper look at your fears around having boundaries. I can offer you a safe space to feel heard and seen, peeling back the layers you’ve put in place that has kept people our for so long. We can explore who is really hiding behind the part of you that others see – you. If you’re ready to take a leap and take a chance on trauma therapy, schedule a consult here.
Zulaikha Straight, MA, LPC, NCC, NCIAC, NCLC
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