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Sacrificing your own needs for the other person in a codependent relationship can lead to dysfunctional or even abusive behaviour. But there are ways to make changes and cultivate healthier relationships.

It's natural to want the best for a loved one and to offer them support in their time of need. However, when taken to an extreme, the desire to care for another person can actually become harmful for both you and the other individual.

Codependency, also known as relationship addiction, takes place when one person believes it's their job to “save” another person by attending to all of their needs. A codependent person builds their identity around this purpose and takes on a self-sacrificial role in the relationship.

Codependency is often used to describe a person who enables their partner's addiction by covering up the addict's problems or shielding them from consequences. However, it can take on many different forms, depending on the relationship. For example, if you're codependent, you might take on excessive household responsibilities, fail to stand up for yourself, or end other friendships just to maintain your partner's approval. This unhealthy dynamic isn't limited to romantic relationships. You can also have a codependent relationship with a family member or friend.

Codependency can have consequences for both the codependent person as well as their loved one. The relationship has the potential to become one-sided or destructive. You might feel frustrated, resentful, or stressed out as you neglect your own needs and prioritize your partner's. You might even find yourself tolerating physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. And when a relationship fails or goes through a rough patch, you may experience a loss of self-worth because your identity is so tied to your partner.

Your partner, on the other hand, might not seek help for issues you enable, such as substance abuse, gambling addiction, or an eating disorder. Instead, they become more dependent on you to take care of them. In other cases, a partner might label you as “clingy” or lash out at your attempts to control them. Because of this, people with codependent tendencies often have a hard time maintaining healthy, satisfying relationships.

Fortunately, codependent tendencies can be reined in and replaced with healthier patterns of behaviour. By changing your thoughts and habits, you can enjoy more fulfilling relationships as well as a greater sense of self-worth.

Signs of codependency

Mental health professionals haven't developed a universal set of diagnostic criteria for codependency. However, there are some commonly accepted signs to consider.

Lack of satisfaction or purpose in life outside of the relationship. Your sense of identity is wrapped up in your partner's, friend’s, or family member’s, so it's difficult to maintain relationships or enjoy hobbies independently. You might forgo events with other people because your partner doesn't want to attend.

Idealization of partner. It's common for people to admire their partner's good qualities. However, if you're codependent, you might put your loved one on a pedestal or fail to acknowledge the flaws that everyone has.

Enabling partner's poor choices and behavior. If your partner has an addiction, for example, you might lie to other people about it, make excuses for your partner's behaviour, or bail them out of trouble. While rooted in good intentions, this simply prevents your loved one from facing the consequences of their actions and learning from their mistakes.

Controlling behaviorbehaviourbehaviourbehaviourmembersfriendspartnerbehaviou. You might try to manipulate your partner into doing what you want, failing to realize the only person you can ever control is yourself. You might mistakenly believe that controlling the other person will somehow lead you to happiness.

Guilt when not attending to your partner's needs and wants. You see it as your job to “fix” all of the other person’s problems. So, you experience guilt when you take time to focus on yourself or anything outside of the relationship.

Unwillingness to state needs, desires, and moral stances due to fear of conflict You might feel alone or neglected in the relationship but keep it to yourself because you don't want to potentially upset your significant other. You might also stay silent when the other person does things you morally oppose, such as bullying.

Taking on undue blame. Rather than run the risk of an argument, you might just go along with whatever the other person in the relationship says. For example, if your partner forgot to load the dishwasher but blamed it on you, you might apologize to avoid conflict.

Taking on too much responsibility. You might clean up after your partner to earn their praise, even if it stresses you out or takes up a lot of your time. In terms of finances, you might pay all the bills even when you have similar income levels. By doing this, you stretch yourself thin while simultaneously enabling the other person.

Preoccupation with the other person’s thoughts or feelings. You might obsess over whether your partner is upset and, if so, how to fix their problems. Your mood might reflect your perception of their mood since you disregard your own emotions.

Build your self-esteem

self-esteem can make you more resilient to social pain, such as the hurt that comes with rejection. Research also shows that people with high self-esteem may experience reduced levels of anxiety and depression. So, by building self-esteem, you can better manage the anxiety underlying your codependent behaviour

You'll also feel more empowered to handle the inevitable ups and downs of relationships.

Build positive social relationships. The quality of your social life can influence your level of self-esteem and vice versa. High self-esteem helps you cultivate satisfying relationships, and satisfying relationships help improve your self-esteem. Aim to extend your social interactions beyond the person you're overly focused on.

CBT-based Hypnotherapy and Self-esteem

Hypnotherapy for self-esteem helps challenge negative thought processes and limiting beliefs and can eliminate self-doubt allowing you to generate a more positive future, improving self-image and increasing determination. We use CTB with the integration of hypnotherapy, which is more effective than using CBT alone. The self-awareness that CBT offers renders it a highly successful way to modify behaviour, embed and consolidate new thinking, and aid deep relaxation.


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