Codependency Is Trying To Create Connection

By Marshall Burtcher

Codependency is a strategy for surviving chronic chaotic, unavailable, abusive, and harmful relationships. It is a last-ditch effort to try to get three specific needs met that are essential to our survival and ability to thrive. Those three needs are: the need for safety, the need for connection, and the need for a stable sense of worth (I call this value-identity).

Today, we explore Necessity Two: Connection

The need for connection helps us build relationships in which we can begin to meet a larger array of needs and wants through mutual, safe, and warm reciprocation. The need for connection happens in a 3-way connection of interdependence. Here’s how that shows up:

  • You-to-You Connection: This is how you relate to and feel connected to your sense of self, being real, and taking up space.
  • You-to-Others: This is how you connect with others. This is how you ask for needs and wants, share feelings, outline desires, set boundaries, and build connection, and how you respond to their feelings, wants, needs, boundaries, and so forth.
  • Others-to-You: This is how others relate to you, including how they share their needs & wants, boundaries, desires, and how they respond to your needs, wants, feelings, boundaries, and so forth.

How these three ways of connection are created is where the deep work of healthy relating comes into play.

Codependency attempts to create these types of connections through appealing to the other person by pleasing them, trying to be ideal or perfect for them, avoiding conflict, and trying to fix their problems.

This approach creates a complex relationship of expectations, unspoken needs and wants, fantasy, and control habits. This results in a lot of confusion, pain, and broken trust in the relationship.

Adulthood builds these three connections from a basis of knowing, loving, and being one’s self. This allows us to detect people who are naturally compatible with how our needs get met and how we express and share ourselves. Relationships built this way experience conflict as a means to deeper intimacy and connection, feel emotionally and physically safe, and further motivate each person involved to share more of themselves.

This is crucial to experiencing fulfillment and happiness in any relationship you have.

Shifting from the codependent model of relating starts with acknowledging that your codependency is how you survived and is not how you’ll thrive.

You see, your codependency isn’t something that needs to be fixed or healed. What I’ve discovered works far, far better is adding to your skill-sets. This way you do not get trapped in trying to “not be codependent”. Instead, your energy and focus can be on mastering being interdependent and growing your experience and expertise in that skill-set.

This starts with how you respond to and treat yourself (that you-to-you connection mentioned above). I specifically start my students off with a gentle practice of pausing, acknowledging, and observing their own awareness.

This helps them begin to gently re-associate with their present moment and their emotional experiences.

You can start this practice right now by taking a moment to pause, acknowledge what you’re aware of in your senses (like a sensation in your body, an emotion, a smell in the room, temperature, colors, etc), and then practice observing those things like you would if you were watching a movie.

This helps you start nurturing a state of connection with yourself that you can build on.

May this add to your healing and journey!

Marshall Burtcher is a codependency healing expert. Marshall helps codependents, people-pleasers, and perfectionists stop fixing themselves and start loving themselves. Join Marshall this month for his free live workshop, “How To Heal Your Codependency Permanently” happening December 14th, 2022 by clicking here:

1 Response

  1. Joyce says:

    I am learning so much about this topic with you Marshall, I missed out for so long on connection growing up and long into my adult life. Having an emotionally unavailable, passive mother didn’t help to say the least, and of course, I just reciprocated…UGH!! But there is less shame and freedom in understanding why. I am so, fortunate to have found you, and now with your guidance and me doing the work, I am finally breaking free of soooooooooooooooo many years of people pleasing and perfectionism, now focusing on discovery with myself and the world. I look forward to having new TRUE connection with myself and others, I am starting to see it, I really am!! 🙂 Thank you! (Fist Bump)

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