Codependency is the belief that your happiness comes from someone else. This belief develops as a result of having unmet childhood needs and leads to limiting beliefs about your self and your capabilities. When a child is not given the kind of care they need from their caregivers, they naturally believe it is their fault. Out of pain, the child then seeks to be perfect by focusing on the needs of the parents in the hopes of finally being worthy of their love. This develops into a patterned set of adult behaviors and beliefs that create dependency and pressure on another for the sustenance they feel unable to provide for the self. This not only leads to a second hand life, but a life that can feel empty in its solitary moments.
Symptoms of codependency can be: controlling behavior, distrust, perfectionism, avoidance of feelings, intimacy problems, caretaking behavior (carrying someone rather than caring for them), hypervigilance, and stress related illnesses.
Codependency is a widespread condition of our times. The great majority of us suffer from it, to one extent or another. The work is in relearning how to have a self and how to develop a rich, sustaining inner and outer life. This also includes development of mutually supportive relationships that nurture the growing self.
Artwork by Daniel B. Holeman