What is codependency?
When we struggle with codependency we can be experts at taking care of everyone else and have trouble taking care of ourselves and trusting our instincts. It can often feel as if other people are unavailable and do not follow through on promises. And though there is frustration, it feels impossible to leave unhealthy relationships, or ask for the kind of emotional support and connection we need.
When we suffer from codependency we can feel chronically unfulfilled and anxious in our relationships with our partner, family members, friends, or co-workers. We are aware that we avoid conflict in our relationships and experience a profound discomfort at the thought of communicating needs. We prefer to swallow feelings and keep our internal world to ourselves, though at the same time we want to be known and connected with others. We put the needs of others first and feel a deep sense of guilt if we assert our needs.
Roots of codependency
When you grow up in a family where there is an unspoken agreement not to express feelings, needs, or create emotional conflict, you do the best that you can as a child to uphold these rules. And while you are putting your energy into living by your family’s guidelines, you are not shown helpful ways to express and take care of your needs and experience pleasure without feelings of guilt. Instead you learn not to share your problems and feel ashamed if you have needs.
You learn not to be too assertive and prefer to be indirect in your communication with others. You can feel pressure to be perfect in everything you do. You may learn that to feel safe and in control of your life you need to be the one who is right, responsible, and never needy. You may want more spontaneity in your life, but more often than not you end up being the one who is overly responsible.
There are many ways that therapy can help you recover from codependent ways of relating and help you build new ways of showing up in relationships. My approach is to work together to make your relationships less anxious, more intimate, and more enjoyable. We collaborate in therapy to help you:
- Learn how to communicate your needs and feelings in safe and connective ways
- Build helpful emotional boundaries between yourself and others
- Learn how to tolerate disappointment and conflict in relationships
- Create realistic expectations of yourself and others
- Learn what is your responsibility to take care of and what is up to others
- Build self esteem that does not rely on how well you solve problems for others
- Stop overextending yourself for the sake of others
- Learn how to make choices in life based on your own needs
- Discover how to be more playful and spontaneous in life
- Learn what brings you joy and pleasure in life and how to receive it
I can be reached at 415.721.3355 or by email to discuss how we can work together on resolving codependent ways of relating so you can feel fulfilled in relationships and have the skills to take care of yourself.