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Adapted from Melody Beattie’s classic best seller

Codependent No More –How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

Codependency is a psychological condition or a relationship in which someone is controlled or manipulated by someone with a substance abuse problem or a pathological condition.  Breaking free requires an awareness of how we got entangled, so we can set some goals to get free.  Melody Beattie’s book is a great place to start.

We are most likely to be codependent if we are:

  • From a dysfunctional home
  • Children of alcoholics or addicts
  • Involved with those who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling
  • Involved with those who have a mental health issue

We might be codependent when we:

  • help the addict to control their drug or alcohol use
  • rescue them from the consequences of their addiction
  • feel needed by taking care of the addict

When we’re codependent, we’re often resentful and get caught up in the drama of others, at the expense of our own needs and spiritual growth.

The Baha’i Writings encourage us to “plow our own field” rather than focusing on the problems of others:
If we allow our attention and energy to be taken up in efforts to keep others right and remedy their faults, we are wasting precious time. We are like ploughmen each of whom has his team to manage and his plough to direct, and in order to keep his furrow straight he must keep his eye on his goal and concentrate on his own task. If he looks to this side and that to see how Tom and Harry are getting on and to criticize their ploughing, then his own furrow will assuredly become crooked.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 92)
Sometimes this is easier said than done!  That’s why I like the following checklist so much – it helps us identify the areas where we’re most affected, so we know what to ask God to help us remove.

For each of the sections below: 

  • tick off all those that apply to you
  • choose the one which is most problematic in your life today
  • record your top priority from each section, on the goal sheet at the back of this checklist 

Caretaking: 

Codependents may:

  • Think and feel responsible for other people – for other people’s feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, want, needs, well-being, lack of well-being and ultimate destiny.
  • Feel anxiety, pity and guilt when other people have a problem
  • Feel compelled – almost forced – to help that person solve the problem, such as offering unwanted advice, giving a rapid-fire series of suggestions or fixed feelings
  • Feel angry when their help isn’t effective
  • Anticipate other people’s needs
  • Wonder why others don’t do the same for them
  • Find themselves saying yes when they mean no, doing things they don’t really want to be doing, doing more than their fair share of the work and doing things other people are capable of doing themselves
  • Not know what they want and need, or if they do, tell themselves what they want and need is not important
  • Try to please others instead of themselves
  • Find it easier to feel and express anger about injustices done to others, rather than injustices done to them
  • Feel safest when giving
  • Feel insecure and guilty when someone gives to them
  • Feel sad because they spend their whole lives giving to other people and nobody gives to them
  • Find themselves attracted to needy people
  • Find needy people attracted to them
  • Feel bored, empty and worthless if they don’t have  a crisis in their lives, a problem to solve or someone to help
  • Abandon their routine to respond to or do something for somebody else
  • Over commit themselves
  • Feel harried and pressured
  • Believe deep inside other people are somehow responsible for them
  • Blame others for the spot the codependents are in
  • Say other people make the codependents feel the way they do
  • Believe other people are making them crazy
  • Feel angry, victimized, unappreciated and used
  • Find other people become impatient or angry with them for all the preceding characteristics

Self Worth 

Codependents may:

  • Come from troubled, repressed or dysfunctional families
  • Deny their family was troubled, repressed or dysfunctional
  • Blame themselves for everything
  • Pick on themselves for everything, including the way they think, feel, look, act and behave
  • Get angry defensive, self-righteous, and indignant when others blame and criticize them – something they regularly do to themselves
  • Reject compliments or praise
  • Get depressed from a lack of compliments and praise
  • Feel different from the rest of the world
  • Think they’re not quite good enough
  • Feel guilty about spending money on themselves or doing unnecessary or fun things for themselves
  • Fear rejection
  • Take things personally
  • Have been victims of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment or alcoholism
  • Feel like victims
  • Tell themselves they can’t do anything right
  • Be afraid of making mistakes
  • Wonder why they have a tough time making decisions
  • Expect themselves to do everything perfectly
  • Wonder why they can’t get anything done to their satisfaction
  • Have a lot of “shoulds’
  • Feel a lot of guilt
  • Feel ashamed of who they are
  • Think their lives aren’t worth living
  • Try to help other people live their lives instead
  • Get artificial feelings o self-worth from helping others
  • Get strong feelings of low self-worth, embarrassment, failure, etc from other people’s failures and problem
  • Wish good things never will happen
  • Believe they don’t deserve good things and happiness
  • Wish other people would like and love them
  • Believe other people couldn’t possibly like and love them
  • Try to prove they’re good enough for other people
  • Settle for being needed 

Depression

Many codependents:

  • Push their thoughts and feelings out of their awareness because of fear and guilt
  • Become afraid to let themselves be who they are
  • Appear rigid and controlled

Obsession

Codependents tend to:

  • Feel terribly anxious about problems and people
  • Worry about the silliest things
  • Think and talk a lot about other people
  • Lose sleep over problems or other people’s behaviour
  • Worry
  • Never find answers
  • Check on people
  • Try to catch people in acts of misbehaviour
  • Feel unable to quilt talking, thinking and worrying about other people or problems
  • Abandon their routine because they are so upset about somebody or something
  • Focus all their energy on other people and problems
  • Wonder why they never have any energy
  • Wonder why they can’t get things done

Controlling 

Many codependents:

  • have lived through events and with people that were out of control, causing the codependents sorrow and disappointment
  • Become afraid to let other people be who they are and allow events to happen naturally
  • Don’t see or deal with their fear of lose of control
  • Think they know best how things should turn out and how people should behave
  • Try to control events and people through helplessness, guilt, coercion, threats, advice-giving, manipulation or domination
  • Eventually fail in their efforts or provoke people’s anger
  • Get frustrated and angry
  • Feel controlled by events and people 

Denial 

Codependents tend to:

  • Ignore problems or pretend they aren’t happening
  • Pretend circumstances aren’t as bad as they are
  • Tell themselves things will be better tomorrow
  • Stay busy so they don’t have to think about things
  • Get confused
  • Get depressed or sick
  • Go to doctors and get tranquilizers
  • Become workaholics
  • Spend money compulsively
  • Overeat
  • Pretend those things aren’t happening, either
  • Watch problems get worse
  • Believe lies
  • Lie to themselves
  • Wonder why they feel like they’re going crazy

Dependency

Many codependents:

  • Don’t’ feel happy, content, or peaceful with themselves
  • Look for happiness outside themselves
  • Latch onto whoever or whatever they think can provide happiness
  • Feel terribly threatened by the loss of any thing or person they think provides their happiness
  • Didn’t feel love and approval from their parents
  • Don’t love themselves
  • Believe other people can’t or don’t love them
  • Desperately seek love and approval
  • Often seek love from people incapable of loving
  • Believe other people are never there for them
  • Equate love with pain
  • Feel they need people more than they want them
  • Try to prove they’re good enough to be loved
  • Don’t take time to see if other people are good for them
  • Worry whether other people love or like them
  • Don’t take time to figure out if they love or like other people
  • Centre their lives around other people
  • Look to relationships to provide all their good feelings
  • Lose interest in their own lives when they love
  • Worry other people will leave them
  • Don’t believe they can take care of themselves
  • Stay in relationships that don’t work
  • Tolerate abuse to keep people loving them
  • Feel trapped in relationships
  • Leave bad relationships and form new ones that don’t work either
  • Wonder if they will ever find love

Communication

Codependents frequently:

  • Blame
  • Threaten
  • Coerce
  • Beg
  • Bribe
  • Advise
  • Don’t say what they mean
  • Don’t mean what they say
  • Don’t know what they mean
  • Don’t take themselves seriously
  • Think other people don’t take them seriously
  • Take themselves too seriously
  • Ask for what they want and need indirectly – sighing, for example
  • Find it difficult to get to the point
  • Aren’t sure what the point is
  • Gauge their words carefully to achieve a desired effect
  • Try to say what they think will please people
  • Try to say what they think will provoke people
  • Try to say what they hope will make people do what they want them to do
  • Eliminate the word No from their vocabulary
  • Talk too much
  • Talk about other people
  • Avoid talking about themselves, their problems, feelings or thoughts
  • Say everything is their fault
  • Say nothing is their fault
  • Believe their opinions don’t matter
  • Wait to express their opinions until they know other people’s opinions
  • Lie to protect and cover up for people they love
  • Lie to protect themselves
  • Have a difficult time expressing their emotions honestly, openly and appropriately
  • Think most of what thy have to say is unimportant
  • Begin to talk in cynical, self-degrading or hostile ways
  • Apologize for bothering people

Boundaries 

Codependents frequently:

  • Say they won’t tolerate certain behaviours from other people
  • Gradually increase their tolerance until they can tolerate and do things they said they never would
  • Let others hurt them
  • Keep letting people hurt them
  • Wonder why they hurt so badly
  • Complain, blame, and try to control while they continue to stand there
  • Finally get angry
  • Become totally intolerant

Trust 

Codependents:

  • Don’t trust themselves
  • Don’t trust their feelings
  • Don’t trust their decisions
  • Don’t trust other people
  • Try to trust untrustworthy people
  • Think God has abandoned them
  • Lose faith and trust in God

Anger

Many codependents:

  • Feel very scared, hurt and angry
  • Live with people who are very scared, hurt and angry
  • Are afraid of their own anger
  • Are frightened of other people’s anger
  • Think people will go away if anger enters the picture
  • Think other people make them feel angry
  • Are afraid to make other people feel anger
  • Feel controlled by other people’s anger
  • Repress their angry feelings
  • Cry a lot, get depressed, overeat, get sick, do mean and nasty things to get even, act hostile or have violent temper outburst
  • Punish other people for making them angry
  • Have been ashamed for feeling angry
  • Place guilt and shame on themselves for feeling angry
  • Feel increasing amounts of anger, resentment and bitterness
  • Feel safer with their anger than with hurt feelings
  • Wonder if they’ll ever not be angry

Sex: 

Some codependents:

  • Are caretakers in the bedroom
  • Have sex when they don’t want to
  • Have sex when they’d rather be held, nurtured and loved
  • Try to have sex when they’re hurt or angry
  • Refuse to enjoy sex because they’re so angry at their partner
  • Are afraid of losing control
  • Have a difficult time asking for what they need in bed
  • Withdraw emotionally from their partner
  • Feel sexual revulsion toward their partner
  • Don’t talk about it
  • Force themselves to have sex, anyway
  • Reduce sex to a technical act
  • Wonder why they don’t enjoy sex
  • Lost interest in sex
  • Make up reasons to abstain
  • Wish their partner would die, go away or sense the codependent’s feelings
  • Have strong sexual fantasies about other people
  • Consider or have an extramarital affair

Other: 

Codependents tend to:

Be extremely responsible

  • Be extremely irresponsible
  • Become martyrs, sacrificing their happiness and that of others for causes that don’t require sacrifice
  • Find it difficult to feel close to people
  • Find it difficult to have fun and be spontaneous
  • Have an overall passive response to codependency – crying, hurt, helplessness
  • Have an overall aggressive response to codependency – violence, anger, dominance
  • Combine passive and aggressive responses
  • Vacillate in decisions and emotions
  • Laugh when they feel like crying
  • Stay loyal to their compulsions and people even when it hurts
  • Be ashamed about family, personal or relationship problems
  • Be confused about the nature of the problem
  • Cover up, lie and protect the problem
  • Not seek help because they tell themselves the problem isn’t bad enough or they aren’t important enough
  • Wonder why the problem doesn’t go away

Progressive 

In the later stages of codependency, codependents may:

  • Feel lethargic
  • Feel depressed
  • Become withdrawn and isolated
  • Experience  complete loss of daily routine and structure
  • Abuse or neglect their children and other responsibilities
  • Feel hopeless
  • Begin to plan their escape from a relationship they feel trapped in
  • Think about suicide
  • Become violent
  • Become seriously emotionally, mentally or physically ill
  • Experience an eating disorder over or under eating
  • Become addicted to alcohol and other drugs

 

Goal Setting

For each of the sections you’ve just completed, record your #1 problem or concern:

Caretaking:

 

Self-Worth:

 

Depression:

 

Obsession:

 

Controlling:

 

Denial:

 

Dependency:

 

Communication:

 

Boundaries:

 

Trust:

 

Anger:

 

Sex:

 

Other:

 

Progressive:

 

Now, from the list above, choose the top 3 areas you’d like to work on:

 

 

 

 

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