A general definition for codependency is, ” a pattern of over- focusing on another person to the neglect and detriment of the self.” To fully understand this concept, you have to understand what is meant by ” over- focusing.” There is an obsessional quality to over- focusing. When one obsesses, an imbalance in the self/other dynamic occurs. Anxiety or exhaustion are common symptoms of this imbalance. Maintaining your own life while trying to manage, control or fix someone else’s life is a drain of time and energy.
In certain life situations, codependency naturally occurs and is normal and helpful. For example, when you are in the early stages of dating someone that you really like, it is normal to obsess and direct a lot of activity and attention towards that person. In the situation where someone is ill or going through a crisis, it is normal to prioritize their needs over yours.
However, under normal conditions such as a friendship, family or romantic relationship, finding a balance between the needs of another person, yourself and the relationship is an important skill to develop. Being successful at attaining this balance says that you have self-esteem and have developed skills related to self awareness, communication and intimacy. Learning to set boundaries that create healthy separateness in relationships is essential in achieving recovery from codependency.
People with codependency often experience resentment, lack of fulfillment, and depression and yet still feel compelled to enmesh with people in order to feel purpose, identity and emotional stability. Stopping codependent functioning is simple in concept, however navigating the emotions necessary to achieve breaking the pattern is harder and more complex.
In upcoming posts, understanding the origin of codependence and how to transition to healthy bonding will be explored.