When I found out I was doing these… I was shocked! It’s was so sneaky.
For most of my life, I would stuff my true feelings, wants, and desires because I didn’t want to hurt others or “rock the boat”.
I would always be waiting for the “right time” to tell people what I thought or needed, but that time would never seem to come, so I would bury my feelings… building resentment.
I would push away help from others, even in times of stress and overwhelm when I really needed it.
In fact, I lived most of my life in unhealthy codependent patterns, unable to set healthy boundaries or speak my truth… overextended and stressed, all in the name of “being of service to others”.
I was already doing too much for others, and then someone would ask if there was somebody who could bring an extra dish for the meeting and my hand would automatically fly up, as if it were raised by itself!
Then I would beat myself up in private for committing to yet another thing I didn’t have time for.
I didn’t realize what it was costing me at the time, but my codependency and people-pleasing ways were wreaking havoc on ALL areas of my life.
And here’s the interesting thing… in my 20 years of facilitating others, I find that almost everyone is doing this to some degree, but almost no one realizes it… and it’s costing us more than we realize.
So what the heck is “codependency”, and how do you know if you’re living with it?
First of all… please know that codependency is on a spectrum. We can all have codependent patterns that flare up from time to time, but for some of us, it’s ruling our life and we may not even know it.
I work with many accomplished, highly intelligent, and spiritually evolved people that are shocked when they see how much codependency is running their life, and how deep it can go.
In a nutshell, codependency is the need to be needed by others. Not “like” to be needed by others… but the “need” to be needed by others.
It’s a type of unhealthy relationship that was originally thought to only involve families of substance abuse but it can actually affect any kind of relationship… coworkers… neighbors… romantic relationships… really, any interaction with another human being.
It’s characterized by sacrificing one’s personal needs in order to try to meet the needs of others… but this can show up in many forms, and can unknowingly sneak into every area of our life.
Now of course… codependency is on a spectrum. We can all have codependent patterns that flare up from time to time. But if you find yourself often living in the patterns below, your codependency is probably costing you more than you know.
1. Hard Time Saying “No”: It’s fine to want to please someone you care about, but codependents usually don’t think they have a choice. Saying “No” causes you anxiety. Some codependents have a hard time saying “No” to anyone, and go out of their way and sacrifice their own needs to accommodate other people.
2. Avoiding Tough Conversations: Waiting to have an uncomfortable conversation with someone that turns into days, weeks, months, or even years. You don’t want to hurt their feelings or upset them, and yet there never seems to be the “right time” to bring things up. You sweep your true feelings under the rug, then rationalize and justify why not to speak up, so as not to rock the boat.
3. Squishy Boundaries: You make rules or guidelines for yourself and interactions with others, but can’t seem to stick to them or enforce them.
4. Reactivity & Defensiveness: A consequence of poor boundaries is that you react to everyone’s thoughts and feelings. If someone says something you disagree with, you either believe it or become defensive. You absorb their words, because there’s no boundary between you and them. With a healthy boundary, you’d realize it was just their opinion and not a reflection of you, so you wouldn’t feel threatened by disagreements.
5. Control Issues: Control helps codependents feel safe and secure. Everyone needs some control over events in their life. You wouldn’t want to live in constant uncertainty and chaos, but for codependents, control limits their ability to take risks and share their feelings. Sometimes you have an addiction that either helps you loosen up, like alcohol, or helps you bury your feelings, like being a workaholic or being OCD, so that you don’t feel out of control. Codependents also need to control those close to them, because they need other people to behave in a certain way to feel okay. Even people-pleasing and care-taking can be used to control and manipulate others.
6. Empathic to a Fault: Being able to sense the needs and feelings of others is a gift, but codependents are often experts at feeling what others need or feel, but can’t always access or hear their own needs or truth. Many of us successfully navigated the tumultuous currents and storms of our childhood by learning and using the ability to read other people’s feeling and needs. By tuning into other’s feelings and needs, we could hopefully avoid the potential emotional landmines around us. However, as we became an expert at reading and sensing others, we often lost our own connection to what we were needing or feeling, so this aspect of ourselves became underdeveloped.
7. Your Self-Care Slips: You may not be taking the time to exercise or feed your body what it needs, or even getting enough sleep because you’re so busy with obligations to others. Codependents can even become workaholics who don’t take adequate breaks at work or allow their body the rest it needs to recuperate.
But the biggest thing is that when we are acting out of codependency, we’re giving our power away, and unwittingly creating drama and chaos in our life.
Codependency is actually one of the top ways we sabotage ourselves from reaching our true potential in life.
We each came here this lifetime with a very specific Mission and Sacred Purpose, but without being able to hear our own voice and needs, or having the courage to speak our truth and set healthy boundaries, we’ll remain stuck in old patterns of self-sabotage.
When I’m working with others, I always marvel at the absolute transformation that takes place when someone awakens to and breaks through their codependency. I will never get tired of watching someone step out of their codependency, and reclaim their power.
This is why I created my new upcoming virtual course, Truth-FULLY.
If you’re ready to go deeper on your journey with unwinding your people-pleasing and codependency, you can read more about TRUTH-FULLY HERE.
In love and service,
P.S. In the comments below, I’d love to hear about your own journey with setting healthy boundaries, people-pleasing, and codependency. I read each comment personally, and I’d love to connect. 🙂