I Am Dead Inside: The Problem With Codependency
The Baffling Concept That We Live to Make Others Happy
Holla at all my people pleasers out there! This one is for you . . . and really, the rest of the population.
A few weeks ago, I attended an Identity Conference put on by Transformation Ministries, Inc. One of the sessions was on the topic of codependency and how it has poisoned and discolored our lives like a drop of black ink in a sink of water. Weeks later, I still think about what was discussed and how I am shaping my life differently because of my newfound knowledge.
Well I guess if you’ve made it to this blog post to begin with, then you either sense your personal codependency or you saw the hook “I Am Dead Inside” and thought this was a moral lesson from the The Office.
These two concepts may actually have more in common than you think. You can definitely feel dead inside when you are a struggling codependent. In fact, when you do some research, you will find that 96% of the world population can in some way be considered codependent.
You see, codependency is like an invisible disease – it claws its way into every word and action, and you will never know that it is here until it eats you alive. I denied being codependent for the longest time. Just take the word apart and define it yourself – you are literally depending on someone else to depend on you. It could be considered to be the same as a comparison of coworkers or coauthors – the burden of the task is distributed on both sides of the equation. However, with coworkers and coauthors, both parts have willingly agreed to join forces to accomplish a goal. They are under the same rules, same time restrictions, and same needs as the other copartner.
This is not how codependency functions.
A codependent person typically feels the strong desire to control or enable the other party in a relationship, under the impression that they are helping, by satisfying that other person’s needs in order to have their own needs met as a result. This could range from remaining in a relationship with an alcoholic or taking on a every one of your friend’s problems, making them your own, and attempting to fix them. The result is always a way to calm or destress your own personal anxiety – to fulfill you.
If you don’t know if you are codependent, here is a brief checklist:
- You feel anxiety about saying no.
- You need others to be are okay so that you can feel okay.
- If others are not okay, you start feeling stress or anxiety. You want to help them. Every. Time.
- You find your self working harder on a person than they are working on themselves.
- You try to provide unsolicited advice and solutions to the problems of others.
- You just thought of someone who does this and labeled them codependent.
- You just tried to think so advice and solutions for said person.
You probably related to many of these, if not all, in some capacity. The more you feel like this may be you, the more you will try to deny it.
You could be codependent on literally anyone or anything. It is a natural human mentality. However, it is a major source of anxiety, and a HUGE stressor in relationships. If your significant other comes back from work and has a despondent or angry demeanor, you immediately begin to think about the cause and how you, as the partner, can remedy the situation with your inherent need to make them happy. This is the same for any relationship, even friendships. Building friendships takes time and usually drags along the feeling that you needs to always have a good time together. We rely on others to make us happy, and we force ourselves to make others happy.
Let me make this perfectly clear.
YOUR. PURPOSE. ON. THIS. EARTH. IS. NOT. TO. MAKE. OTHERS. HAPPY.
As a Christ-follower myself, my identity is in who the God of the Universe says I am. You need to find your identity before you can attempt to break a codependent cycle. Identity cannot be found in anything of this world, or it will be meaningless. Going from wanting to fix someone, to getting frustrated, to overworking yourself, to giving up, to trying harder because you feel like you’ve failed, is a devastating cycle.
I want to provide you with five words of identity for who I believe every person is:
- You are worthy of love. (Eph. 2:4-5; Psalm 139:14; John 15:9-17; Rom. 5:8)
- You are created to be the child of a perfect, loving Father. (1 John 3:1-2; Gen. 1:27; 1 Peter 2:9)
- You were not made for this world, so therefore the world can have no grip on you IF you do not let it. You are offered citizenship of heaven. (Phil. 3:20; 2 Tim. 1:7; Col. 3:1-4)
- You are free. (John 8:36; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal 5:13-14)
- You are constantly renewed and strengthened. (Is. 40:30-31; Psalm 23:3; 2 Cor. 4:16)
Let me also provide you with five ways to rebuke the nature of codependence for which we are predisposed (thanks societal concepts, ugh).
- Think: Am I doing something for someone that they could do themselves? Am I doing this to make them feel okay with my awesome ability to fix situations? Will this make me feel okay to try and help them? If the answer is yes, stop. No one is going to oppose someone doing things for them to make them feel okay.
- Say no. If you do not want to do something, and the only thing keeping you from a “no” is inward anxiety, then you have every reason to say no. REMEMBER: anxiety over possibly disappointing someone and wanting to make them happy is codependence.
- Use the phrase “let me get back to you on that” and actually evaluate how you feel about the question or situation. If someone gets bothered, that is their internal problem to wrestle with.
- Take time to go through your own emotional baggage and either throw it in the laundry or get rid of it. Evaluate the root of your desire to help people and determine if it is healthy or not. This takes time; don’t rush yourself. It will just aid you in the long-run through the marathon of life.
- Speak truth over yourself every morning!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on codependency below! Or simply leave a tip or trick of your own.