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Codependents block off their own feelings.

Codependency, trauma and addiction go hand in hand. Codependency encompasses a wide-range of behaviour and thought patterns that cause people distress to varying degrees. Codependency is a response to trauma. It is a coping mechanism developed as a way to deal with an abusive, chaotic, dysfunctional, or codependent family.

Keeping the peace, taking care of others, denying your feelings, and trying to control things were ways to survive and cope with a scary and out of control home life. Codependency feels shameful. Children who grow up in dysfunctional families learn early on that there is something fundamentally wrong with them. Shame grows when we can’t tell people about our problems; we feel alone and inadequate as if these struggles are our fault and the direct result of our flaws. 

paper codependency

Codependency is an unhealthy focus on other people’s problems, feelings, and needs. Focusing on other people is a way to feel needed and to avoid or distract ourselves from our own pain. Codependents are very sensitive to criticism. Our feelings are easily hurt; we’ve dealt with a lot of hurt, blame, and criticism in our lives. We do everything we can to avoid displeasing others. We’ll bend over backward to keep other people happy and divert attention away from ourselves. Codependents are super responsible.

Often they are the glue that keeps a family going. Most of us were very responsible children who, out of necessity, became responsible for taking care of parents, siblings, household chores, and school work without parental assistance. We pay the price when we over-extend ourselves, become workaholics, or grow resentful when we do more than our share. Codependents block off their own feelings. Avoiding painful feelings is another coping strategy that codependents often employ. However, we can’t wall off only the painful feelings; we end up disconnected from all our feelings, making it harder to fully enjoy life’s joys, as well. Codependents don’t ask for what they need.

Hence it’s impossible to meet your own needs or ask others to meet them when you don’t even know what they are.

Codependents give, even when it hurts. Caretaking and enabling are hallmarks of codependency. What makes it unhealthy is that codependents will put their time, energy, and money into helping or doing for others even when it causes them distress or hardship. We struggle to set boundaries and need to strive for a balance between helping others and taking care of ourselves.

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