Codependency: Signs, Causes and How to Overcome It

Codependency is a type of dysfunctional relationship where one person’s sense of self-worth and identity is derived from the approval, acceptance or validation from another person. It can be defined as an unhealthy reliance on someone else for emotional support and a sense of purpose. Codependency can manifest in many forms such as enabling, excessive caretaking and controlling behavior.

Often times codependent relationships form out of avoidance or fear of intimacy which can lead to feelings of loneliness, insecurity and low self-esteem. At Red Hill Recovery we understand how difficult it can be to break free from these patterns but with the right help you are able to regain control over your emotions and learn healthy ways to cope with life's challenges.

Whats is Codependency

Codependency is an unhealthy psychological condition that can manifest in various forms, such as controlling behavior, enabling, and excessive caretaking of another person. It is characterized by a person’s dependence on the approval, acceptance or validation from someone else to feel important and secure. This leads to feelings of low self-esteem and insecurity. Codependency can cause problems in relationships as well as difficulty functioning independently.

A person suffering from codependency might become chronically anxious or fearful when separated from their partner, tend to not express their own needs because they are too focused on helping others, constantly seek out approval from others rather than trusting their own judgement, or engage in activities that require them to protect or “save” another person at the expense of their own needs.

Signs of Codependency

  1. Difficulty with communication: Codependent individuals may struggle to communicate their feelings or needs in healthy ways, often resorting to manipulation or passing blame instead. This could manifest in a passive-aggressive manner (making snarky comments or jokes) or avoiding communication altogether.
  2. Low self-esteem: Codependent individuals may feel inadequate or have difficulty trusting themselves due to deeply rooted feelings of worthlessness. They may then rely on someone else's opinion as a source of validation, causing them to be overly dependent on their partner's approval.
  3. Control issues: Codependents may feel the need to constantly control situations and people around them in order to ensure their own safety and security, even if it means sacrificing someone else’s autonomy in the process.They may also attempt to control their partners through guilt trips, criticism and ultimatums, leading to tension and resentment within the relationship.
  4. People pleasing: Codependents tend to go above and beyond when trying to please others, sometimes at great expense to themselves—mentally, physically and emotionally—in order to gain attention or avoid conflict. They will repress their own needs and desires in order keep the peace, which can lead them feeling resentful over time.
  5. Emotional reactivity: Feelings can quickly become overwhelming for codependents since they are often so out of touch with their own emotions that any sudden change can cause extreme distress or panic attacks. This could also lead them into chaotic relationships where they are trying desperately hard just not “lose” anything from the relationship by whatever means necessary—even if it means compromising their ethics or morals in the process.

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Causes of Codependency

It can be caused by growing up in a family where one or both parents were not supportive, or where there was a lack of healthy communication. Other causes may include physical or emotional abuse, trauma, neglect, addiction, low self-esteem, difficulty expressing emotions and unmet needs. People who are codependent often feel responsible for other people's feelings and behavior and focus more on what others need than what they need themselves.

What Is a Codependent Personality Disorder?

Codependent Personality Disorder is when people feel responsible for other people's feelings and actions. They focus more on what others need than what they need themselves. People with this disorder may have had a difficult childhood, where one or both parents were not supportive or there was a lack of good communication. It can also be caused by physical or emotional abuse, trauma, neglect, addiction, low self-esteem, or difficulty expressing emotions and unmet needs.

Why Codependency Is Unhealthy

Codependency is not healthy because it means that people are too dependent on each other. People in codependent relationships often put their own needs aside to make sure their partner's needs are met. This can cause stress, anxiety and depression for both people in the relationship. Codependent relationships also mean that one person may have too much control over the other person, which can lead to abuse or unhealthy behavior. It is important for everyone to have a healthy balance between taking care of themselves and being there for others.

How to Overcome Codependency

Codependency can be a debilitating experience that leaves individuals feeling stuck in an unhealthy cycle, unable to break free. Fortunately, it is possible to overcome codependency with the right strategies and support. At Red Hill Recovery, we believe that learning healthy ways of connecting and expressing yourself is key to overcoming codependency and building healthier relationships. Here, we share three essential strategies for breaking free from codependency.

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Building Self-Esteem

Building Self-Esteem is one of the most important steps in overcoming codependency. It’s important to recognize your own worth and value as an individual and to accept that you are worthy of being loved and respected by others. Building self-esteem can involve challenging negative thoughts about yourself and your capabilities, setting realistic goals for yourself, engaging in positive self-talk, taking time to reflect on your accomplishments, spending time with supportive people who love you unconditionally, or engaging in activities that make you feel good about yourself. As you build confidence in yourself and recognize your self-worth, the codependent behaviors will start to diminish over time.

Improving boundary setting skills

Another strategy for overcoming codependency is improving boundary setting skills. Codependent behavior often involves sacrificing one’s own needs while trying too hard to please others or meet their expectations without ever setting limits or boundaries around what is acceptable behavior or how far one should go. Having healthy boundaries means knowing what you will not tolerate from other people and being able to say “no” when needed without feeling guilty or ashamed. To develop boundary setting skills, practice identifying what is acceptable behavior for yourself as well as for others through active listening and communication with your loved ones.

Building Self-Esteem

Finally, it’s important to encourage self care when working on overcoming codependency. Investing in activities such as yoga or meditation can help create space between you and other people so that you don’t feel compelled to fix their problems or take responsibility for them even if they are struggling emotionally. Additionally, taking up hobbies that bring joy into your life can also help distract from any anxious thoughts stemming from unmet needs or worries about another person’s wellbeing. Lastly, getting plenty of sleep each night can help ensure that Stress hormones are kept at bay which will allow clearer thinking when trying to work through challenging relationships or difficult decisions related to codependent patterns of behavior.


Can codependency be prevented?

Yes, codependency can be prevented by recognizing patterns of behavior and thoughts that lead to unhealthy relationships. It is helpful to become aware of one’s own boundaries and self-worth, as well as the signs that a partner may not be available emotionally or healthy for a relationship. Taking breaks from relationships to find balance is also beneficial in preventing codependent behaviors. Additionally, engaging in therapies such as individual counseling, family therapy, and group support like Codependents Anonymous can help those struggling with codependent traits develop healthier boundaries and more balanced relationships. At Red Hill Recovery we offer a range of treatment options for adults needing support for codependency issues including couples counseling and other forms of therapy provide by our certified counselors.

What is the role of addiction in codependency?

Addiction plays an important role in codependency. People who are codependent often find themselves enabling or attempting to take control of their addicted loved one's behaviors. This behavior can include doing things such as making excuses for their loved one's behavior, hiding evidence of addiction, and providing money to support the person's substance use. By taking on these roles, they may be trying to protect the person from harm but this can lead to further perpetuating the cycle of addiction and codependency. Ultimately, it is important for those struggling with both addictions and codependency to seek professional help as soon as possible in order for them to recover properly.

How does codependency affect personal growth and development?

Codependency can disrupt personal growth and development in a number of ways. Codependent behavior is often characterized by an inability to make healthy decisions independently, difficulty expressing emotions or needs, lack of self-respect, and difficulty identifying boundaries. All of these can lead to a limited sense of self-worth and limit one's ability to establish meaningful relationships with others. Additionally, codependent behavior can prevent people from achieving their goals as they may prioritize caring for the needs of another person over their own needs. This can be especially damaging when it comes to pursuing education or career objectives since codependents put other people’s desires above their own aspirations. Ultimately, involvement in toxic relationships impedes personal growth and development due to its unbalanced nature which stifles creativity and independence.

How can codependency be addressed in therapy?

Codependency can be addressed in therapy by helping individuals recognize their patterns of behavior and reconnect with themselves. Therapists may also offer cognitive-behavioral therapies to identify the underlying cause of codependent behavior, such as childhood trauma or past relationships that were unhealthy. Other therapeutic strategies include focusing on self-esteem building and identifying healthy boundaries within interpersonal relationships. Ultimately, re-establishing a relationship with oneself can help break the cycle of codependency and lead to healthier communication between family members, friends, and partners.

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