WHAT IS CODEPENDENCY?
Melody Beattie is the queen of the codependency realm. She started writing about codependency in 1987, with her groundbreaking book Codependent No More, and has written a slew since. She’s been sharing writing about this stuff for a long time now. It’s amazing to imagine the number of people she has helped with her knowledge!
The Definition of Codependency
In Melody Beattie’s book The New Codependency, she describes it loosely, as:
“Codependency is normal behavior, plus. There are times when we do too much, care too much, feel too little, or overly engage. We forget where the other person’s responsibilities begin and our responsibilities stop. ”
“Codependency is about crossing lines. How can we tell if what we’re doing is codependent? When we cross the line into the Codependent Zone, we’ve usually got an ulterior motive for what we do, and what we’re doing hurts. It doesn’t work.”
Codependency & Control
In The New Codependency, Beattie has 22 chapters on Breaking Free From Control. 22 fabulous chapters!!! Control is one of the core elements of codependency. It’s the way we calm our anxiety, by focusing on controlling tons of things that we have no control over, but think that we do (like how people behave at dinner parties, if a friend likes another friend, how people receive hard news, the mood in the room, the neighbor’s cat, the neighbor … you get the idea).
Really, it is an illusion of control. This basically means: we think we have control, but we don’t. It is an exhausting business, trying to control all the people in our lives. Not only is it exhausting, but it’s impossible! The only thing we have control over is ourselves. Say it with me: the only thing we have control over is ourselves. Once we can learn that, we can start walking down a much more peaceful and easy road. I know, it’s easier said than done, right???
Melody Beattie considers care-taking to be “the heart of codependency.” Here’s a list of what Beattie believes care-taking is (The New Codependency pp.40-41).
- doing what isn’t our responsibility and what we don’t want to do
- doing what people are capable of doing – and need to do – for themselves
- meeting people’s needs without them asking for help
- getting involved in what isn’t our business
- doing more than our share when someone asks us to help
- forcing our help on people, when they do’t want it
- giving more than we receive instead of mutual giving
- taking care of people’s feelings or problems; neglecting our own
- facing people’s consequences so they can avoid them
- speaking for people and not letting them speak for themselves
- pouring more interest into joint efforts that the other person does
- not saying what we need
- taking care of other’s feelings as a substitute for taking care of our emotions or unresolved issues
- needy giving – giving that attaches ourselves to others
- making excuses for others, but not understanding ourselves
- not standing up for our rights, but advocating for other people
- not getting paid what we’re worth
- compulsively care-taking and not knowing how or when to stop
Knowledge is power; anything in the list ring a bell for you?