Co-dependence can be described as the need for a person to be a certain way in order for you to be OK. If you are more concerned with others’ needs than your own, is this selflessness or is it co-dependence? If you find yourself regularly ‘rescuing’ others, not only is this an indicator for co-dependence but it also means you are denying them the gift of growth. Any painful experience is an invitation to learn and grow from it. We can’t if we are being rescued. So, painful as it may be to hear, before you know it, you could become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution, even if it doesn’t feel that way. So, here are three steps to help you overcome it:
Recognise the consequences
- A basic human need is to reach our potential, rescuing them is denying them that right
- It creates ‘learned helplessness’; an inability to work out how to solve a problem because they know that someone else will always solve it for them. This is disabling, not enabling
- It can impact self esteem as one of the most powerful ways of feeling confident, is to overcome obstacles on your own. Like passing an exam you thought you couldn’t – it wouldn’t boost your self-esteem if someone had taken the exam for you would it?
- You will burn yourself out
- You are at risk of building resentment over time
Be a good role model and take care of yourself
- Take care of your needs: if you are tired, rest; if you need support, ask; eat healthfully; exercise regularly; manage stress; have fun
- Be assertive: remember that you have as many rights as anyone else; learn how to say no firmly but graciously; don’t fall into the passive-aggressive trap (putting up with too much and exploding when you’ve had enough); set boundaries. Sometimes people will be disappointed but that’s OK. It isn’t about people-pleasing, it’s about boundary-setting.
Encourage their independence
- Empathise with their situation without taking responsibility for it
- Avoid catastrophizing language , eg “that’s terrible” or “oh no!”
- Ask them what they would like to do about the situation and avoid stepping in with solutions yourself
If you find it hard to overcome co-dependence on your own – and it is a deep-seated urge requiring a great deal of effort, insight and focus – you might consider having hypnotherapy and coaching to help you develop a better relationship with yourself and others. Get in touch to find out how I could help you.
You may also enjoy my article Am I Co-Dependant.
(c) Tricia Woolfrey