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In reaction to negative circumstances, we have learned to endure life rather than to live it. We have developed personality characteristics which act as coping mechanisms. These mechanisms, while at one time protective, prove to be detrimental to forming healthy relationships. Some of these characteristics are:
We assume responsibility for other’s feelings and/or choices.
We have difficulty identifying our own feelings: happiness, pain, anger, joy, sadness, loneliness, etc.
We have difficulty expressing our feelings in healthy ways.
We tend to fear that our feelings or needs will be belittled or rejected by others.
We tend to minimize, alter or even deny the truth about our feeling or needs.
We tend to put other’s feelings and needs ahead of our own, not allowing there to be a healthy balance with our feelings and needs.
Our fear of other’s feelings (especially anger) determines what we say and do.
Our serenity and attention is determined by how others are feeling or by what they’re doing.
We do not realize that feelings are not good or bad, that they just are.
We question or ignore our own conscience, our own values, in order to connect with significant others—trusting and obeying their feelings or opinions more than our own.
Other people’s actions or desires tend to determine how we respond or react.
Our sense of self-worth is based on other/outer influences instead of on our personal witness of God’s love and esteem for us.
We have difficulty making decisions and are frightened of being wrong or making a mistake.
We are perfectionistic and place too many expectations on ourselves and others.
We are not comfortable acknowledging good things about ourselves and tend to judge everything we do, think, or say as not being good enough.
We do not know that it is okay to be vulnerable and find it difficult, almost impossible, to ask for help.
We do not see that it is okay to talk about problems outside the family, thus we leave ourselves and our families stranded in the troubles they are experiencing.
We are steadfastly loyal—even when that loyalty is unjustified and often personally harmful to us.
We have to be needed in order to have a relationship with others.
Overcoming codependency follows the same path as overcoming any other addiction or life trauma—developing a one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ.
Excerpted from the pamphlet, “Speaking Heart t’ Heart on Codependency.” Used with permission from Heart t’ Heart.