How to Identify Codependency

by Michael Epstein
The first step in changing unhealthy behavior, such as codependency, is to understand it.

The first step in changing unhealthy behavior, such as codependency, is to understand it.

Codependency is learned from other family members who display this same type of behavior. It is a behavioral and emotional condition that affects a person's ability to have a healthy relationship. Codependency most often affects a spouse, sibling, parent, friend, or co-worker of a person afflicted with alcohol or drug dependence. To identify a person with codependency, it is necessary to observe his/her behavior and characteristics.

Observe the behavior of the person in question. Codependents will have low self-esteem and find it hard to "be themselves." They often become "benefactors" to an individual in need and act as martyrs in such situations. Thus, codependent persons develop a sense of satisfaction from "being needed." Some codependent people may try to "feel better" through addictions, such as alcohol, drugs or nicotine. They may also develop compulsive behaviors like gambling or overactive sexuality. When their actions become compulsive, codependent persons will have trouble breaking the cycle of their behavior; then, they will act like victims.

Identify the characteristics of the person in question. Someone who is codependent will exhibit a range of common characteristics, such as: They usually have an exaggerated sense of responsibility; they confuse love and pity; they do more than their share; they become hurt when others do not recognize their efforts; they have an extreme need for approval; they are compelled to control others; they do not trust themselves or others; they have a fear of being abandoned; they have difficulty identifying feelings; they are rigs; they have problems with intimacy; they have chronic anger and problems with lying; they have poor communication skills; and they have difficulty making decisions.

Submit the person in question to a codependency questionnaire. Anyone who can identify with most of the questionnaire should consider seeking professional help or arrange to be evaluated for codependency. Here is a list of questions that can positively identify signs of codependency (although only a qualified professional can accurately diagnose codependency): 1. Do you remain quiet to avoid fights? 2. Are you worried about how people think of you? Have you ever lived in a house where someone had an addiction? 3. Have you ever known someone who abuses or belittles you? 5. Are others' opinions more important than yours? 6. Do you have trouble adjusting to changes? 7. Do you feel rejected when your significant other chooses to spend time with someone else? 8. Do you doubt yourself? 9. Do you feel uncomfortable expressing your true thoughts and feelings? 10. Do you ever feel like you are "not enough"? 11. Do you consider yourself "bad" when you make a mistake? 12. Do you have trouble accepting gifts or compliments? 13. Do you feel humiliated when someone close to you makes a mistake? 14. Do you think people in your life would fail without your help? 15. Do you constantly wish someone would help you with various tasks? 16. Do you have trouble answering to authority? 17. Are you confused about yourself or life? 18. Do you have difficulty saying "No"? 19. Do you have difficulty asking for help? 20. Do you have too much going on that you cannot justify your actions?

About the Author

Michael Epstein started writing professionally in 2010 for Warner Music Group. He earned a Bachelor of Science in leadership and management studies at New York University. Epstein is also pursuing a Master of Business Administration in marketing and media/communications management at Fordham University.

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