Patterns of codependency develop in childhood and can continue long into adulthood. Adults who are codependent continually look outside of themselves for approval and self-esteem. Often, they live their lives through others or for others. Attempting to control, or ‘fix’ situations is a common theme.
An excessive need to be in control, coupled with the denial of our personal needs, wants, and emotions, only continues to fuel our overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.
In family units where problems were not acknowledged and emotions were repressed, we learned that it was not ok to share our problems or express our feelings. If we grew up taking care of an emotionally ill or physically sick family member, or in a situation where a single individual’s need superseded the needs of the other family members, we learned that we could not, or should not, express our needs and wants, and instead should focus our time and energy on the needs of the other. All of these situations can create blocks limiting our personal power, cause us to lack a sense of self, and greatly reduce our ability to create and maintain healthy boundaries in adulthood leading to a life filled with personal stress, anxiety, and depression.
Many of the following behaviors are the direct result of childhood conditioning:
- Seeking approval from others
- Fear of criticism
- Confusing love with pity
- Attraction to other compulsive personalities
- Bottling up feelings