Effects of Codependency in Family
By Yasmin Kerkez
Codependency is a common relationship struggle within the family unit. Let’s look deeper into the areas of codependency to really understand what behavioral patterns exist – so that we can then work on reversing them and regaining emotional independence and power in a relationship. It’s also important to remember that codependency can exist even without physical or verbal contact. Often in family estrangement our thoughts can keep us trapped in this codependent state and we can continue to put the issues, and needs, of our family member before our own even if separation exists between you and your family member.
In regards to family relationships, some of the main areas that exist in codependency are the following:
- Poor boundaries
- A loss of self and existing in a state of low self-worth, which leads to:
- Unbalanced emotional dependency and the need to feel loved.
- Unbalanced responsibility and the need to be the caretaker.
- Inability to express thoughts, feelings and emotions honestly.
To begin with, it’s essential to recognize how we lack boundaries in a codependent relationship. We often find ourselves tolerating abusive or uncomfortable situations and treatment. We often agree to do things out of obligation to the point that it’s inconvenient for us or causes stress in our own life and routine. We find ourselves existing in an enmeshed relationship without boundaries or respect for our own needs and feelings. We can feel responsible to give of our time and resources – such as financial support, help with chores, help with our family members responsibilities or happiness – without having the strength to say no. We can also fail to have emotional boundaries – and continually exist trapped by the critical labels and judgments they’ve placed on us without having the power to break free. Boundaries are one of the greatest missing elements in a codependent family relationship.
Another equally missing element in codependent relationships is a strong sense of self. And the danger in family conflict or estrangement is that we have existed this way for so long that we really suffer from this – and really truly can lose our self and our identity within the relationship – which then has a ripple effect into other areas of our life. When we exist in a codependent relationship we put ourselves second. We start to feel or exhibit any of the following:
- Lack of respect for our self and our needs.
- Lack of self-confidence.
- Feelings of inadequacy and feeling inferior to our family member.
- Feeling abandoned and unloved.
- Rely on the happiness, or approval, of our family member to feel worthy and accepted.
- Constantly needing validation from our family member and basing our self worth on their opinions of us.
- Become very reactionary and extremely sensitive to criticism because we have lost confidence in our self.
- Become a people-pleaser and constantly focus on the happiness and needs of our family member before our own.
These are all very dangerous and damaging elements as they only continue to destroy our personal strength and identity and we continue to lose our self in the relationship. It means we are inhibited from healing because we are always focusing on someone else’s needs and not paying attention to our own. We therefore fail to have the energy needed to heal and feel better – because we are constantly giving our energy and power to someone else.
The good news is that codependency is not a clinical condition, so it can be reversed through behavioral changes and actions. The first step to healing is to recognize if you are existing in a codependent relationship. If any of the aforementioned themes spoke to you then chances are you are struggling with codependency in your family relationships. But this can be reversed.
If you do experience any of these environments then you need to realize that you no longer need to play those roles. The behavioral patterns you developed in your past are no longer needed now – and you can let them go.
If you need help with knowing the steps to take to break free from existing in a codependent relationship – and how to reclaim your power and continue on your healing journey – please know that help exists. Codependency is very common in family, and if you experience this, you are certainly not alone. Getting help with codependency issues can help you reclaim your life. If you feel that this article on codependency in family spoke to you, and you need help in this area, then please consider our Healing Harbor Membership, which offers weekly help, support and lessons with how to navigate relationships issues and conflict in family. You can break free from codependency in family and reclaim your life!
By Yasmin Kerkez
Please visit Yasmin’s website to learn more about Overcoming Codependency and Family Struggles. Join her community of support here: https://familysupportresources.com/membership/