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Patterns and Characteristics of Codependence

These patterns and characteristics are offered as a tool to aid in self-evaluation.
They may be particularly helpful to newcomers.

Denial Patterns:

I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.
I minimize, alter, or deny how I truly feel.
I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others.
I lack empathy for the feelings and needs of others.
I label others with my negative traits.
I can take care of myself without any help from others.
I mask my pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation.
I express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways.
I do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom I am attracted.

Low Self Esteem Patterns:

I have difficulty making decisions.
I judge what I think, say, or do harshly, as never good enough.
I am embarrassed to receive recognition, praise, or gifts.
I value others’ approval of my thinking, feelings, and behavior over my own.
I do not perceive myself as a lovable or worthwhile person.
I constantly seek recognition that I think I deserve.
I have difficulty admitting that I made a mistake.
I need to appear to be right in the eyes of others and will even lie to look good.
I am unable to ask others to meet my needs or desires.
I perceive myself as superior to others.
I look to others to provide my sense of safety.
I have difficulty getting started, meeting deadlines, and completing projects.
I have trouble setting healthy priorities.

Compliance Patterns:

I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger.
I put aside my own interests in order to do what others want.
I am hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings.
I am afraid to express my beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from those of others.
I accept sexual attention when I want love.
I make decisions without regard to the consequences.
I give up my truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change.

Control Patterns:

I believe most people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
I attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel.
I freely offer advice and direction to others without being asked.
I become resentful when others decline my help or reject my advice.
I lavish gifts and favors on those I want to influence.
I use sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance.
I have to be needed in order to have a relationship with others.
I demand that my needs be met by others.
I use charm and charisma to convince others of my capacity to be caring and compassionate.
I use blame and shame to emotionally exploit others.
I refuse to cooperate, compromise, or negotiate.
I adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage to manipulate outcomes.
I use terms of recovery in an attempt to control the behavior of others.
I pretend to agree with others to get what I want.

Avoidance Patterns:

I act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward me.
I judge harshly what others think, say, or do.
I avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a means of maintaining distance.
I allow my addictions to people, places, and things to distract me from achieving intimacy in relationships.
I use indirect and evasive communication to avoid conflict or confrontation.
I diminish my capacity to have healthy relationships by declining to use all the tools of recovery.
I suppress my feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable.
I pull people toward me, but when they get close, I push them away.
I refuse to give up my self-will to avoid surrendering to a power that is greater than myself.
I believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness.
I withhold expressions of appreciation.

The Patterns and Characteristics of Codependency may not be reprinted or republished without the express written consent of Co-Dependents Anonymous, Inc. This document may be reprinted from the website www.coda.org (CoDA) for use by members of the CoDA Fellowship.  

Copyright © 2010 Co-Dependents Anonymous, Inc. and its licensors -All Rights Reserved

Codependency - What is it?
Codependency is when a person has a strong desire to control people around them, including their spouse, children or co-workers. Codependents believe they are somehow more capable than others, who need their direction or suggestions to fulfill tasks they are responsible to complete. They feel compassion for people who may be hurting and feel they should be the one to help them. Codependent people give of their time, emotions, finances, and other resources. They have a very difficult time saying "no" to any requests made of them.

Codependency - A Matter of Control
Codependency, for others, doesn't express itself in a desire to control, but instead, in the need to be controlled by others. Because it is nearly impossible for Codependents to say "no" to people, they may find themselves the victims in physically and emotionally abusive relationships. They believe that if they can be good enough, or loving enough, they can change the other person's behavior. They sometimes blame themselves for the abusive behavior: "If only I had not forgotten to do the dishes, he would not have had to hit me." 

Codependency causes internal struggles with the opinions of others. Codependents may make decisions based on what they think other people want them to do. While they may believe that their motive for helping people is compassion, in reality they are doing it because they want love or approval. They may come to recognize the underlying nature of their behavior when they become hurt or angry at people they have helped who didn't return the same amount of help, love, or appreciation when they themselves were in need. They have difficulty understanding that instead of helping others by providing things they need, they may actually be hurting them by creating a dependent relationship. 

Codependency can also cause struggles in the area of time management. Codependents may feel they never have enough time to fulfill all of their commitments because they have made too many. The most important commitments and relationships are often neglected because they are too busy helping other people, participating in multiple activities, and running from one event to another throughout the week. This also relates to their inability to say "no" when asked to volunteer, attend a function, or help a friend. The idea of not volunteering, not helping or not attending is unthinkable. They may believe they are not being responsible, not being a good friend, or not being a good person if they refuse any requests. However, many of those situations and relationships leave them feeling hurt, angry, or resentful.

Codependency - The Questions

  • Do you find yourself making decisions based on other people's opinions?
  • Is it important to you that people like you and want to be your friend?
  • Do you have a strong desire to help others, but deep down you know you do it so that they will like or love you?
  • Do you seem to notice everyone else's problems and have a need to tell them what you think they should do to solve them?
  • Do you feel anxious, angry or upset when people don't do things you want them to do, or do things the way you want them to do them?
  • Do you find yourself in relationships where you do all the giving and the other person does all the taking?
  • Are you involved in activities that demand all of your time and energy and you are neglecting your family or yourself?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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